Friday, October 19, 2007

Seawolves 4 - UAF 3

In an early season game you might expect a few gaffs and bumbles. But this third game of the season for UAA saw more than it's fair share from my center ice seat. It was fitting then that a great individual effort on a long shift would provide the game winner. Tommy Grant's great goal with 3:35 seconds left in 3rd period broke the 3-3 tie for good. Grant was the last of four rookie forwards (who've seen action before tonight this season) to net a goal. As the 3rd period waned the Seawolves managed a fair bit more offensive pressure than the determined Nanook team. On the shift that produced the game winner, the Seawolves were particularly determined keeping the puck in the UAF zone for what seemed like close to 90 seconds. About 15 seconds before the goal came, Grant showed great anticipation getting to a puck in the far corner and I turned to my daughter and excitedly said, "That kid's a hockey player". As I looked back up Tommy had the puck on the other side of the net behind the goal line and carried it back up the far side looking for an opportunity. Finding nobody free, he simply fired the puck low through Chad Johnson's legs. 1st collegiate goal and a game winner. Nice.

As I said though the game tonight was often a bit of a mix of ugly broken plays and (less often) pretty ones. UAF got on the board first when a blocked Naglich shot dropped to a trailing Tyler Eckford who gave Jon Olthuis no chance with a ripper from about 4oft. UAA took the first penalty of the night when Jared Tuton didn't release from his guy soon enough after a face-off. Man, I gotta say I hate that stupid call. Expect to see plenty of those with two refs. UAA killed the penalty and on the second shift following the play a hustling Paul Crowder got to a puck deep in the corner and knocked it to Kevin Clark who fired a shot on the net which Chad Johnson kicked out to a rush Josh Lunden who just had to fire it past Johnson. The rest of the period mostly wasn't pretty hockey. It was competitive enough but neither team looked sharp.

Much of the first half of the 2nd looked similar to the first. It was overall a little sharper and passes connected more often. I thought UAA had most of the better chances through that first half though. Blair Tassone broke in pretty cleanly after UAA killed off a short 5-3 but ran out of room and couldn't get a good shot off, the rebound though was picked up by someone (I can't remember who) and their shot was kept out of the Nanook goal by a scrambling Nanook defenseman. The game was fairly wide-open and more entertaining throughout the second half of the period and I began to notice Coach Shyiak trying different line combinations. At 12:44 Craig Parkinson and Kevin Clark combined on a nice rush with Kevin firing a bad angle shot which deflected back to a rushing Mat Robinson who buried it giving UAA the 2-1 lead. The Nanooks scratched their way back into a tie when Aaron Lee scored at 16:01.

The 3rd period was similar to the first two but was perhaps a bit more defensively oriented, the Nanooks couldn't seem to manage to get many shots through. UAA's defense did a better job as the night progressed keeping the Nanooks to the outside. Perhaps a factor of the size difference in the two teams. In any case, Craig Parkinson put the Seawolves up 3-2 at 8:09 of the period finishing a nice rush with Kevin Clark and Josh Lunden. Not quite 3 minutes later the 'nooks tied the game again with their best goal of the night when Novotney took a nice pass from Dustin Sather and beat Jonny O. The goal gave the game some drama, though the Seawolves really started looking like the better team as it went deeper into the period.

I have to say that this tendency (if you can call something a tendency after it happens twice) to score a big goal late in the game is a nice thing to see. The final five or six minutes of this game was all Seawolves. I think I told Mr. Suze (when he wasn't shouting "Down in front" at Governor Palin) it sure looked like UAA simply had more desire. A good win to get. Coach Shyiak got to play with the lines a fair bit and I'm sure he'll do some of that tomorrow night as well. Non-conference games are tailor made for that. I'm guessing here that we might see Matthew Gordon in between the pipes tomorrow so that Coach can see him in action. Sean Wiles saw his first action of the season. He's got a long reach and managed at least one decent shot on net. I thought Mat Robinson had a great game. He was all over both ends of the ice. Kane Lafranchise was the only freshman defenseman dressed and he played a very solid game. The play of all the freshman forwards was excellent of course with Parkinson and Grant both contributing important goals. Anybody who gets to play on a line with Kevin Clark and Josh Lunden is a lucky guy. They made plenty happen again tonight. Neither team scored on the power play. Craig Parkinson isn't shabby on faceoffs and that's nice to see. I think Luke Beaverson had his best game so far this season. He carried the puck when necessary and laid on some big hits. Almost nobody really played mistake free hockey though. Hopefully, things will be a little sharper overall tomorrow night. Not that I'm bitching about being 2-0-1.

I thought I was done and almost hit the publish button but as I proofread all this I'm considering that the team played better than the picture I'm painting. It was an entertaining hockey game. It had a lot of the good elements that make a game enjoyable. It was up and down a lot the evening. Enough of the miscues were as much created by the opponent as were unforced. So for anyone that didn't see the game I'd hate to leave a bad impression. Maybe I'm saying this partially because the game is on the TV as I write this and I'm hearing David Tuttle's color commentary and wondering if we were watching the same game. Anyhow, I'll sit back now and watch and enjoy it again.


Kris said...

There was an obvious difference in the way that the Nookies played tonight rather than the last few years. Doc seems to have them playing more focused on the neutral zone and transition. They are sitting between the blue lines looking and forcing mistakes and then pushing the puck up the ice and creating rushes.

One thing that you did not mention Donald, was that the lil' Nookies do not hit anything. If they were playing T-ball they still couldn't hit. I saw one real hit by them. The Seawolves were hitting everything in sight. And, did I mention that the Nooks fall every time you touch them.

schloppy said...

The Captain pasted 4 Nanooks, real solid hits. I hope he delivers that kind of "leadership" the rest of the season. While Grant's goal deserves some obvious mention the level of control in the offensive zone just prior was amazing, it's clear they've been practicing using the net as an obstruction and trying the "stuff" probably more than it should be-- sure is fun to watch. Grant's eyes are intense, the kid looks like he's right on the edge of snapping. I can't help but think of Happy Gilmore's "That's my puck, don't ever touch my puck!" wheeling through defense and bouncing off anything in his way... and unlike Gilmore all while maintaining puck control (very nice). Some referred to his goal as "soft" and I can't disagree more, anytime you get the goalie stepping to follow and you can "slide the five", that's skill and should be respected. I expect to see some more game winners out of Grant.

The four refs on the ice is distracting, I can't figure out who's making the decisions out there. Anybody care to explain this crazy happening and why we must upgrade from three blind mice to four? I do agree with Haider, that refs more than once impeded play... and I'll add this - sometimes less is more.

I can't wait to see if Beaverson continues to abuse, Robbinson makes up for forgetting his man on the backcheck, and Grant delivers on a promising opener. This could be an incredible season.

Donald Dunlop said...

Great comments. Thanks for the additional perspectives!

You're right ... I didn't notice the nooks trying to take the body. I saw one good hit on Lovdahl but he easily doubled that for payback. And yeah ... there was a lot of neutral zone turnovers ... both through sloppy play I think and through their checking.

It was a good game for Luke. He looked quicker and I always like when he carries the puck on a rush. He is always good in his end and if he lays on the hits all season like he did tonight then some WCHA foes will be counting bruises.

The zone possession was great leading up to the goal. And I think Grant (who was on the ice for at least a minute) had a lot to do with that. It was a goal scorers goal. He was patient with the puck and when he didn't find anyone to dish to he took a smart shot.

As for all the stripes on the ice; I thought the linesman was a factor in the 3-1 goal that UAF scored. When Robbie pinched at the UAF blueline to try to keep the puck in he was trying not to hit the linesman and that disrupted his pinch. He should have plowed the guy which probably would have kept the puck in. But instead it took a nice bounce and they scored. Robbie looked pissed coming off after that one.

I didn't mention Backstrom in the post either and he had a strong game. He nearly stuffed one home and had a couple of other good carries too.

There's so much to remember from the game when you're trying to write it all up. Thanks again for the comments ... stuff like this helps readers get a good idea of what happened. Keep commenting!

444 said...

Nice win Wolves!

Suze said...

I thought the linesmen were horrid. Hopefully they'll be better in tonights game, though I doubt it.

Passing was not nearly as good as in the BU game, so hopefully we see them clicking and playing more to their potential.

Neil said...

I didn't like our defensive miscues, Olthius misplayed the puck and Eckford buried it. Backstrom tried to play the puck at the blueline, got beat and UAF had an oddman rush that resulted in another Nook goal. This will happen, but you hate to see it happen three times in one game. In the WCHA it will kill us. Now is the time to button it all up and work it out. I think we will be fine, our guys seem pretty resiliant.

Anonymous said...

I wish UAA did a better job of promoting the games. Here they gave out tons of free Seawolf Pride T-Shirts (thank you UAA alumni!!), and they didn't even use it as a drawing tool.

When the Aces give free stuff away, they are always sure to mention it in their ads. This was a perfect opportunity, and it didn't cost the U a thing. :(

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