I felt like titling this post "4-3 So Nice, Seawolves Do It Twice". But that wouldn't reflect the fairly decent offensive effort from the boys tonight. And of course, there isn't a Seawolves player that didn't want to win tonight. The Seawolves put 36 shots on net tonight with 3 finding their target. That's a very positive sign.
Credit the Union defensive play for their win though because the Seawolves attempted 58 shots. Union blocked 19 in a good defensive effort. The Dutchmen managed 23 shots on goal for the game with the Seawolves blocking 11. Hmmm ... only 11 blocked shots and a 4-3 loss ... where have I seen those numbers before? Oh yeah ... last night versus CC.
Again tonight, I thought the backchecking effectiveness was substandard. I think it was the difference in the game. Instead of backchecking forwards moving their feet, they reached with their sticks. Instead of giving up the body and blocking shots, they spectated. And it wasn't only young players that didn't backcheck well.
For easily the last half of the game the Seawolves had their way offensively. The third period saw 18 shots get through to Union goaltender Kinkaid. By my count there were at least 8 really quality scoring chances after Union went up 4-3.
Unlike last night versus CC, the Seawolves buried themselves in a 3-0 hole before finally stepping up their play and responding with 3 straight goals of their own. Matt Bailey, Nick Haddad and Scott Warner tallied for UAA.
There was some potentially bad news with Sean Wiles going out for some sort of shoulder injury. We all hope that it's something minor of course. Keeping the guys that are supposed to be our primary goal scorers healthy is going to be necessary for more positive outcomes than we saw this weekend.
Another less important yet still key stat was that Union won 35 faceoffs to UAA's 26. Only Craig Parkinson was better than 50% on the night. The Seawolves got 7 power play chances on the and did manage to get a goal on the 9 shots during the man advantages. Contrast that to Union's 3 power play chances, 8 shots and 1 goal and you begin to see there is quite a bit of work that needs to be done on the power play.
On the flip side, overall the penalty kill has produced 2 shorthanded goals in the 4 games so far this year. That's pretty promising.
Chris Kamal got the call tonight and I don't think there is much one can say differentiates his effectiveness from Rob Gunderson's. Both had excellent saves at some point and both perhaps showed a bit more net than they probably meant to. So expect the rotation to continue next week at this point.
This is a team that certainly seems to step up it's efforts when they're behind on the scoreboard. That's not a bad identity to cultivate but it would be better to not be behind. It's a very young team. We're seeing lots of promise from some youngsters and some obvious maturity from some veterans. I think it will take some more time to gel.
Unfortunately, next weekend the team heads out to Duluth and if the less than stellar backchecking continues there ... well let me just say that we'll probably see our boys trying to muster another comeback. In my opinion, if the team can come out and set a solid defensive tone we'll have a chance to leave Duluth with some WCHA points. The non-conference action is over until we face UA_ late in the season. The meat grinder awaits.
I'm already tired of late 3rd period praying for a tie. Hopefully, we can see a more tight checking game plan next weekend mixed with opportunistic play and good finishing.
The camera work and directing tonight wasn't quite as horrendous as last night. There were probably only 8 or 9 times where we were left staring at actionless parts of the ice for dozens of seconds versus the 20 or so times during the CC game.
I'll have more extended thoughts on individual players when I review the weekend on my Monday post. These opening four games have provided some important lessons for the team to learn. Let's all hope they do.