Mitch Bruijsten somehow found a ping ponging puck in a mess of bodies with 1:26 left in OT to give the Seawolves a much needed win tonight. It was the Seawolves first real chance in the overtime as St. Cloud had prevented them from getting deep in the zone while manufacturing their own attempts to win the game.
Bruijsten's goal came after defensemen Scott Warner dropped to a knee semi-butterfly style to prevent what would have been the game winner for the Huskies. Warner bumped the puck out to Mark Pustin who speedily took it into the St. Cloud zone and put in on net, Daniel Naslund sent a rebound chance back on net and from there it was a bit chaotic. St. Cloud goalie Mike Lee knocked the puck into the air and as the St. Cloud defense collapsed around the crease in a mad scamble to force the puck out ... Mitch somehow found it and put it over a sprawled Lee for the winner.
The combination of Naslund, Pustin and Bruijsten had been energetic and effective all night. I'd mentally noted well before the winning goal came that their shifts had mostly produced positive results. One of those results was the first goal of the game at 5:25 of the period. Just 21 seconds after the completion of a pretty decent power play Naslund managed to keep the puck deep in the St. Cloud zone and Mark Pustin mananged to find Scott Warner on the blueline and (through traffic that was four players deep) he rifled a wrist shot with eyes that Lee never saw until it bounced out of the net.
Overall in the game scoring chances were few and far between for both teams. But at 6:14 of the 2nd period and just 17 seconds after St. Cloud killed off a penalty Luka Vidmar slammed a puck home in the crease into the open side of the net. Much credit for that goal has to go to Jade Portwood's excellent work along the boards to deny St. Cloud a breakout. Jade stole the puck, turned in toward the net stepped around a defender and fired a shot. The puck beat off Lee and careened off the post behind the netminder to a waiting Vidmar who made no mistake finishing easily.
I believe that was only the 2nd time this season that the Seawolves have had a two goal lead. St. Cloud cut the lead in half just 2:28 later at 8:42 on a bit of a double defensive error by the Seawolves. The first mistake didn't cost them but on the 2nd Jared Festler found the puck on his stick about 12 feet from the line in the slot and finished nicely by roofing it over Chris Kamal.
At 2:52 of the 3rd, the Huskies tied the game on a power play goal from alleged double-felon Tony Mosey. Obviously the game stayed 2-2 until the end of regulation.
I thought both teams played fairly well. Naturally, St. Cloud fans will say their team sucked all night but the truth is that the Seawolves really moved their feet well and beat the Huskies to lots of pucks. There was some up and down play but it wasn't racetrack hockey. Both defenses managed to defend successfully high in their zones quite often and lots of the game was played between the face off circles. There were fairly even sections where one team or the other got the puck deep and managed to get cycling games going and generate chances. Each team had several odd man rushes of all varieties but I'd give the Seawolves a slight nod in that category.
Shots on goal were 20 apiece reflecting the generally good defensive play from both sides. I thought Chris Kamal was very solid between the pipes all night. He not only made the saves you'd expect a Divsion 1 goalie to make but came up with a few extra nice saves as well. It wouldn't surprise me in the least for him to get the start tomorrow even if Coach Shyiak had a rotation in mind before the weekend.
All four lines for the Seawolves managed some good play and generated chances and that was good to see. I really thought Nick Haddad's play on the night would earn him a goal. He really had a good game I thought and deserves mention (everybody deserves a mention actually as it was a quality team effort throughout the lineup... but hey ... bloggers get tired too and I am now even though I'd like to stay up and watch the replay but won't).
Congratulations to the squad on the win. Interestingly, they'd finished celebrating and left the ice while the referees were in the video booth reviewing the final goal. Could have been ugly if they'd managed to find a reason to wave the goal off. Happily, that wasn't the case and tomorrow the Seawolves have a legitimate chance to sweep a WCHA opponent and greatly improve their points position in the league table.