Freshaman Alex Gellert experienced both the highs and lows of college hockey this afternoon in his 3rd Division 1 game. Gellert opened UAA's scoring with his 1st period game winner just 2:44 into the game. After a strong rush deep into the RPI zone the puck found it's way back to Kane Lafranchise would fired a heavy shot from the top of the slot, Mickey Spencer picked up the rebound from that shot and fired a wrister, RPI goaltender York made the stop but gave up a fat rebound to the right ... Gellert was in perfect position and just had to pop the puck into the open side. On Alex's 2nd shift of the game he picked up one of the now famous marginal D1 checking from behind penalties and was shown the gate.
It was the only goal UAA needed as RPI wasn't able to get any pucks past Jon Olthuis who was solid in net for the Seawolves.
The Seawolves killed off the 5 minute major without giving up many serious chances and even manufactured a couple of short handed situations that created some danger. UAA dominated some nice portions of the period with good possession in the RPI end. At 14:41 Josh Lunden made it 2-0 off the rebound from another Kane Lafranchise shot. Shots in the period were 14-9 in UAA's favor at the break.
RPI's CJ Lee was tagged with less marginal CFB penalty and shown the gate at 6:37 of the 2nd. UAA gained and held possession in the RPI zone regularly throughout the 2nd period. It wasn't quite a dominating performance overall but did have some dominating possession by the Seawolves.
At 17:31 Kevin Clark's great effort made it 3-0. The Seawolves had the puck deep and were forcing it toward RPI's goal with Clarkie skating left to right across the crease, he picked up the puck and after being held and mauled went down to the right side of the net. The play wasn't over for him as he bounced up to his knees and chunked the puck home. Nick Haddad and Tommy Grant picked up the assists. Shots in the 2nd period were even at 9.
The third period was relatively quiet with the Seawolves performing well but not challenging offensively as hard as they seemed to in the first two periods. They definitely pushed the game forward but didn't generate many chances. RPI outshot the Seawolves in the period 7-4.
Overall Jonny Olthuis played a solid game. Only about a half a dozen shots were real threats and he was up to the task on all of those. Defensively, the team was solid. I saw only one bad blown assignment defensively but RPI muffed that chance; good positional play and a quick glove hand by Jonny O kept them off the board. Only one RPI player (Jerry D'Amigo) ever seemed to generate any dangerous looking plays.
All the forward lines played well for the Seawolves with each of them being able to manufacture chances off the cycling game. The Seawolves transition game looked good but didn't generate any goals. They did generate chances. Finishing those chances looks to be something that needs continuing work. I can't say enough good things about Lee Baldwin. Once again he looked like a veteran and we saw a couple of heavy one timers from him. The Portwood-Parkinson-Crowell line deserves mention for their hard work. A couple of times I was impressed with the hard work that all of them did along the boards.
I think Josh Lunden's maturity will be a real asset in the development of Naslund and Bruijsten. He certainly set a good example tonight especially with his skating and play away from the puck. With Gellert out, Sean Wiles and Mickey Spencer filled in where possible and I thought both had solid outings.
Leinweber and Lafranchise are going to be an ongoing offensive threat as the season progresses. They showed bits of that today for sure. Jared Tuton was solid and steady as usual. I don't like to criticize players here (and this is a small but important observation) ... Luka Vidmar needs to find more focus I think. Too many pucks come off his stick too easily sometimes. He always looks good going forward but a fumbled puck or two by a blueliner can be really costly.
Drew Darwitz had his most solid outing as a freshman. I saw no defensive mistakes (which I'd seen but tried not to focus on in earlier games) today from him and he continued to show promise moving the puck forward. When Backstrom and Hunt come back, Coach Shyiak is going to have some hard choices to make with regard to which blueliners dress.
My player of the game for UAA would be Kevin Clark. He scored the "best" goal but moreso because as usual he was creating a bit havoc in all areas of the game. I know ... not giving the nod to Olthuis for his shutout is questionable on my part. He did have 25 saves. But honestly (and I'd hope Jonny would agree), not many of those were really quality chances. He's worked lots harder in lots of other games over his career.
It was a solid win but not great. RMU will be an interesting test tomorrow night especially depending on their result versus UA_, which starts in about 5 mins. Congrats to the team. The W is the most important stat tonight.
Click here for the boxscore.