Friday, October 24, 2008

Friday Night: Seawolves 4 - Bulldogs 3

I don't want to overstate the impact of special teams play in light of the new enforcement. But again, it was special teams effectiveness that played the biggest role in tonight's game at the Sully. It was a real quality hockey game I thought. The Bulldogs came to play. They never lagged and for much of the night they managed to give as good as they got. I would credit UAA with a more effective physical effort by a good margin ... as it should be.

I know somewhere last week I said that the Seawolves would need to committ less penalties. 9 isn't less; so I'm a bit concerned. Duluth's 2 power play goals (granted ... the Seawolves killed off 7 of 9 power plays) is what kept them in the game. Let's not forget it was 4-1 in UAA's favor up until 17:23 of the 2nd period. After the 4th UAA goal at 12:04 of 2nd no UMD player took a penalty for the rest of the game. Six Seawolves did. Nevertheless, it is a positive sign to hold onto and win a game like that. A 3rd Duluth power play goal (to potentially make it 4-4) was disallowed after a fairly extensive video replay around the 10 minute mark of the 3rd. Jonny O was uncharacteristically perturbed after the initial call. Mat Robinson and Josh Lunden immediately got the ear of an official and they decided to review it. I believe they ruled it goaltender interference. Phew. The game really didn't have to be that close.

I couldn't name a Seawolf player that didn't contribute something positive. Sean Wiles is making a believer out of me. He musta let a stud get into his jersey tonight. I counted four times where he stripped the puck from a Bulldog player in their zone ... twice behind the goal line. He contributed to scoring chances and was strong on the PK. He went down and blocked the last shot of the game with .01 seconds on the clock. He left it all out on the ice ... body and soul.

Kevin Clark looked like a scoring machine. I honestly have to say that he ONLY got two goals. He easily could have had more. The post he hit will show up in some bad dream one night. ARGH! Pick a name at random on the roster and you'll find a Seawolf that did their job. Nils Backstrom had a very noticable presence all night. He delivered some strong hits and combined that with great play along the boards. Definitely his most postive game of the season so far. With the plethora of good puck handling defenseman that this team has it's perhaps unfortunate that a guy like Nils has to take a more stay-at-home role this season. He logged his share of PK time tonight and I'd say he was more "in charge" of his own end than he'd looked earlier in the season.

Of course, Mat Robinson was the best hockey player on the ice. I start feeling a bit self-conscious pumping Robbie's tires so often here but there just isn't anything he can't do. And tonight, he did more than a little bit of everything. Paul Crowder's strongest play of the game wasn't the pretty power play goal that he buried from a smart Brian Bales feed. I said Brian was cerebral last week and now I think his nickname should be "Brain" Bales. But back to Crowder here ... late in the game he picked up a puck at the blueline wide on his backhand. He established himself by putting a defenseman on his back until he could step inside of him while cutting across the goal for a scoring chance. The play resulted in a face off in the Duluth zone which allowed UAA preparation to kill off the remaining time. It was a key effort at an important time. It sorta came out of nowhere.

Now back to Bales ... Clark, Bales and Lunden is turning out to be a "sick" line. If Josh Lunden has the sort of year that I think he's capable of having then I'm not sure UAA will be able to hold onto him for his senior year. Undrafted WCHA players who score 20 are delectable tidbits for NHL teams looking for unoticed gems. I hope he puts himself into position to face exactly that dilemma eh? And then let's hope that he wants to finish his college career first.

Jared Tuton surprised everyone and made his first start of the season. I think it took him a little while to find his feet and after the first big hit that he delivered (I counted 4 high quality hits) he looked a bit stung going back to the bench. But he showed good confidence and by the end of the game looked strong. He really rocked a couple of guys. Good to see him all patched up. Ken Selby had a couple of good rushes showcasing his speed. Backstrom made a beautiful pass to Ken late in the 2nd period which I am still bummed didn't click because he would have been in clear. Trevor Hunt played probably his best defensive game of the season tonight and had at least one good offensive chance in the 3rd that just didn't quite click. He'll get other chances and he had a rare penalty free outing ... good on ya Trev.

Whenever Kane Lafranchise is on the ice I feel confident. He has all the tools. His pairing with Mat Robinson is as strong a pairing as exists in the league. They are both very responsible, very skilled going backwards and they are both dangerous going forward with the puck. Kane was responsible for the defensive play of the night when reached around a Bulldog forward (who was in a position to break clean into the zone) and stripped the puck away. Shane Lovdahl made a great defensive play in the 1st period sliding across smartly and blocking a pass which likely would have resulted in a goal. There were many other good defensive efforts as well.

Every Seawolf player was committed in their own zone tonight going down and blocking many many shots. I think Craig Parkinson left it all out on the ice. I especially noticed him in the defensive end where he was very effective. Tyler Moir's positives tonight were at both ends of the ice but I definitely noticed his backchecking efforts. That sort of effort from a freshman is always a good sign. Tommy Grant understands it all now I think. Perhaps here and there as a freshman he was half-a-bubble off level. Not now. He showed perfect anticipation on his 3 goal of the year when he positioned himself to trail the play as a 2nd wave and that tactic paid off. Tommy has been showing (and continued tonight) the ability to get around an opposition defenseman on the outside. Keep that up Tommy.

That's all I've got in me. I'm sure I missed commenting on how important this or that play was; hopefully a commenter or two will fill in any blanks.

Edit: Jonny O had a strong game. His best of the season as well. He came up with a sharp save on the very first Bulldog chance and was good the rest of the way with none of the Bulldog tallies being his fault.


Jeremiah said...

I'm proud of our guys for taking a lead and keeping it for good! Stay out of the box and wins will come easier!

On a side note, did anyone else notice that the scoreboard still says Justin Bourne for #12 and Merit Waldrop for #14? Minor detail, but it really needs corrected.

Anonymous said...

i did notice that, they also had ads for last weekend's aces series as well.

annabelle said...

I have to say that the boys did play really really well. What we noticed is that no matter who was on the ice, all players played well defensively and all players contributed offensively. Real TEAM play. Good job boys and good luck tonite again.


Anonymous said...

McCabe to Fairbanks

Kris said...

A couple things to note. First it might not have been a technical power play but the first UMD goal was five seconds after the penalty expired. In the second it did seem as the PK sat back a couple times and that is usually when the slobber dogs scored or at least gained momentum. Secondly I still think the Maine game was a better game for Johnny O, I really am not sure how you can debate that but UMD probably did play better but didn't get nearly as many shots through to Johnny.

Other than that I totally agree. I almost disagree with Robinson being the best player on the ice but I will go with it. I would have said Crowder but didn't notice him much in the 3rd. Way to go guys keep it up!

jjack said...

I just went to and was frightened for a second.

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