Saturday, January 16, 2010

Seawolves 5 - MTU 4

Escape from Houghton as quickly as you can Seawolves.  Before the law catches onto yous.  Don't use the "Crazy Train" above.  You've already been on it too long today.  I'd recommend north to Canadia but if you have to drive into Wisconsin that should work too.  I know MTU really gave the game to you, but no court in Houghton is going to see it that way.  They're going to label you as felonious thieves.  How Michigan Tech didn't win this game I don't know; they outshot UAA 36 - 22.

With the score 5-4 for 18 minutes and 31 seconds of the 3rd period the Huskies pressured often and had loads of decent chances.  But more went wide or got blocked than made it through to Jonny O.   With less than two minutes in the game the referee Jon Campion (well-known for his proclivity to involve himself in the outcome of games) got in on the act giving MTU a power play with 1:39 left and then a 2 man advantage with 1:06 left.  MTU pulled their goalie at that point for the rare 6 on 3 chance.

This is where the main thievery happened.  In one series of chances the Huskies banged the puck over a gaping wide open net twice.  I guess you have to credit the three guys on the ice for the Seawolves at the end.  But I don't know what exactly to credit them with.  Essentially, they just backed in as tightly as they could, adjusted to the position of the puck as best they could and kept their sticks out in front and as active as they could.  What did Jonny O do?  Prayed and scrambled.

You can't credit real skill for keeping the puck out for a minute of 6 on 3 hockey.  It's luck.  I mean they had 6 fucking hungry-for-a-win-after-going-winless-in-14-games dudes surrounding 3 omg-i-just-want-out-of-this-alive defenders and a goalie.

With 4 seconds remaining Jared Tuton (left with no other choice sprawled on his stomach) pulled the puck under his chest to get a whistle.  The referees then allowed a Michigan Tech player to take two of the most vicious hardcore swipes to free it that I've ever seen.  I guess it was Drew Dobson as he picked up a 5 minute penalty for cross-checking.  And by cross-checking of course they meant the aforementioned attempts to injure Jared Tuton by slap shotting him to death.  It was brutal and really deserves another look by the league. 

The last two minutes wasn't the only interesting part of the game.  Far from it.

To open the game the Seawolves came out a bit flat and somewhat tentative.  The Huskies had the bulk of the play until they scored the inevitable first goal at 7:54.  At 11:19, Kevin Clark then converted on a gift of a breakaway off the boards, he threw a little hitch in his stride as he sped to the net and then beat Josh Robinson cleanly to tie the game.

I felt fortunate that the game was tied at that point.  Then just a little over 2 minutes later on the power play Kevin notched his 2nd of the game.  I felt even more fortunate that the Seawolves had the lead going into the period intermission.  Tech had outshot UAA 9 to 3 at that point.

Then early in the 2nd period things really looked to be going UAA's way.  Tommy Grant finished an easy goal after Kevin Clark had done some tremendous work along the boards and shoved the puck out sweetly to the corner of the crease as he passed behind the net.  Boom.  3-1 with just 3:05 passed in the period.  Then a minute and seventeen seconds later, Clark notched his hattrick with his family in the stands watching.  Um ... allow me to ask here; can someone please arrange for Kevin's family to be in attendance at all the remaining games?  Thanks in advance.

So it's 4-1 and there's 35:28 left to play.  Um ... I felt comfortable.  I did note in the chatroom that another goal for the Seawolves would probably finish the game but that a goal for MTU would "make it a hockey game" again.  It took MTU a little over 10 minutes to answer.  But then they answer in pretty quick succession ... 14:35, 15:33 and 18:50.  Suddenly, it's 4-4 and everyone in the chatroom is checking their liquor cabinets and wondering what would work best to quell the feelings of overwhelming impending doom.

And so of course, in order to keep all our innards in a stressful uproar, Sean Wiles potted the go-ahead 5th Seawolves goal with just 1:29 passed in the 3rd.  That ensured eighteen minutes and twenty-nine seconds of stress for everyone listening on the radio or squinting at the fuzzy low bandwidth streaming broadcast.

Then of course, the referees noticed that the most penalized team in Division 1 had only been whistled for penalties twice in the game.  That sort of inequity could not be allowed to stand.  And this recap now finds itself back where it started.  With Nils Backstrom being shown to the sin bin for what I called a "fucking perfectly clean check" in the chat at 18:21.

All in all.  It was the craziest game of the year.  The Seawolves escaped with 4 precious points and thanks to Duluth's OT win versus Mankato, UAA sits alone in 8th after coming into the weekend solidly entrenched in 9th.

A lot of credit for the 4 points should fall onto the shoulders of the Seawolves #1 line who combined for 6 of the 11 goals and a total of 5 assists.  Kevin Clark had a 4 goals and 2 assists on the weekend making him a solid candidate for WCHA Offensive POTW honors (of course depending on other individual results on the weekend, which I have absolutely not looked at).  And that scoring outburst came with nary a trip to the penalty box.

Congratulations to Kevin are in order for a fine weekend regardless of any league honors.  I said before the weekend that the team needed scoring leadership specifically from #9 and he provided exactly that.  Good on ya Kevin.  Combined with all the energy and enthusiasm he managed against DU, he's had a real fine road trip.

And in case you're wondering, Paul Crowder notched the last Seawolves hat trick against UMD back on December 8th, 2007.

Here's the detailed boxscore from Dallas Baldwin at the UAA website.  Expect no future insightful analysis of this weekend's series.  The video was of such low quality that it was impossible for me to make any mental notes.  I couldn't even read the numbers on the backs of the sweaters.


James Anderson said...

Here is the local news story:

Congrats Seawolves fans on the sweep. 5 out of 8 points for this long road trip - not too bad.

Donald Dunlop said...

Thanks again James. No horn playing on this one though? :-(

Anonymous said...

Good job Seawolves. It was trully one of the more stressful of your games that I've watched. Good job to Clark and Grant and Wiles. They came through offensively when they needed to. And defensively I give a huge pat on the back to the Seawolf players on the penalty kill who were out for the entire 1:39 at the end of the game. Good job Jonny.

-30- said...

Yeah, the Seawolves perhaps got two points MTU may have deserved, but the point is they appear to be learning how to win. This was a desperate Michigan team at home and a tired UAA team at the end of a long road trip. All the UAA boys spilled their guts and even insane calls at the end of the second and third didn't stop them from grabbing two points. I don't think their was any gas in the tank at the end. What more can fans ask?

Anonymous said...

Right now we are only 3 points behind Minnesota. Lets see the schedules:

Minnesota's remaining WCHA games:
5/6 series are against the top 5 WCHA teams, the other being us.

Now UAA's final remaining WCHA games:
3/5 series are against top 5 WCHA teams, one series against MSU who is behind us, and MIN.

If there was ever a time to start to cheer for some of those top 5 teams, it would be on the weekends they are not playing UAA. We do have a realistic chance to catch them, but only time will tell how it all unfolds.

Suze said...

The guys could have played better on Saturday, but as -30- said, they looked very tired. It will be good to have them back home, and the important thing is they found a way to win.

Tech may have deserved the 2 points, but UAA deserved the two points in Denver as well.

Lets bring some friends to the Sully this weekend and make some noise!

Anonymous said...

olthius has earned his keep as #1 goalie IMO. He looks much more poised in the four games since coming back from break. The only time i saw any frustration the last 2 weekends from jonny o was on saturday against tech during the 2nd period. Rhakshani laid a pass on ruegsegger on saturday in denver that my mom could have finished, so he is definitely not to blame for any loss taken. olthius looks like a quality goaltender if you ask me.

in the last 4 games, jonny o has a 92% save percentage and a GAA of 2.5. That is far better than his career numbers, and lets hope he can continue this trend. That is the kind of goaltending UAA needs to win more than half of their games.

Go Jonny O. I have never been more confident in our goaltending in the last 3 years.

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