Sean Wiles scored a couple of pretty goals tonight for the Seawolves. It was a nice way for him to get back into form after a fairly long goal scoring drought. Wrapping up the sweep and getting the 4 points was good news for the Seawolves. Again, tonight's game was an all-around team effort. Everybody on the ice for UAA contributed positively.
At times during 5-on-5 play the Seawolves really moved the puck well inside the Tech zone with solid passing, great positional play and a solid sense of where they're teammates were. It was even machine like. There were some sloppy moments here and there ... was it just me or did it seem like the puck was in the air way more often tonight than a typical game.
There was a lot of good defensive play from the team again tonight. They did get lucky a couple of times with a bouncing puck or two around the crease that fell onto a UAA players stick for a clearance and Tech did hit the pipe once.
Both Tech goals were a bit flukey. The first was a semi-hot little wrist shot from outside the blue line. Kamal was out on the top of his crease and it apparently went in between his arm and his body. I bet he got 49% of it. Aw well. The second was a floppy little soft bouncer that found it's way through. Neither incident seemed to affect his play from my vantage point. I thought he was solid and got a fair bit more of a test tonight.
So the scoring .... Tommy Grant broke into the slot and Wiles found him with a tape to tape pass, Grant caught the puck and dished it back to Sean who buried it. It was a great pass. Sean's second goal was the result of some great work by Curtis Leinweber. Curtis tenaciously kept the puck in along the point with several bodies vying for it and then pushed the puck in deep and then found an open Wiles for the 2nd. Real nice weekend for Curtis ... his maturity, leadership and of course offensive contributions on the ice stood out.
Jordan Kwas was johnny-on-spot to tap in a loose puck in the crease @ 9:41 of the 3rd period for the game winning goal. The goal came just 34 seconds into the power play with assists to Bailey and Grant.
Mitch Bruijsten picked up his 8th goal of the season burying an empty netter at 19:30 which I think he was dying to pass to Daniel Naslund who'd joined him on the 2-1 rush. For some reason though the MTU defenseman played the pass and Mitch was forced to finish it himself. Daniel sorta had a goal called back. Wes McLeod corralled a puck on the blueline and thought he'd kept it in firing a low hard shot at the goal, Naslund made a sweet tip to roof the puck but the play had been whistled offside.
The Seawolves had another puck find the back of the net only to have it declared no-goal after a review. I'm betting it was disallowed because of interference to the goaltender and not as some people initially thought because it was kicked in.
I think Mark Pustin added some energy and speed to the lineup. We'll be seeing more rather than less of him in upcoming games I'm betting. Jade Portwood and Nick Haddad are friggin machines. I mean that in the best possible sense. I just don't have words for how good Craig Parkinson has been this season. It's nice praise to say a guy did a little of everything and did it well. Craig did a lot of everything this weekend.
Matt Bailey is good at lots of things. Tonight I was impressed with his ability to win pucks along the boards through great positioning. When he got to a spot he owned the spot and won the puck. He's an effective force on the cycle or on the rush. We're just going to be happier and happier he's a Seawolf with each weekend throughout his career I think.
Alex Gellert also worked hard this weekend and picked up two assists on Friday night. Daniel Naslund had another good weekend. He's definitely "found his feet" this season. His quickness is much better but moreso he's found a better positioning sense so he's in a better place to respond to a puck.
Congrats to the team. I'm impressed with the character. They all seem really well focused on the task at hand. "Step Three" is to somehow sneak a couple of points out of Grand Forks next weekend.
And no, I don't feel bad that Tech is "0 for whatever". I still remember them slaughtering UAA 9-0 down in Houghton a few years ago. So no, bummer for them I'm sure.
How many licks does it take to get the the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop? Well, that's a tough thing to say for sure at this point. Let's analyze it ...
The Seawolves possibilities to secure a home ice bid were slightly enhanced weekend by all the other results. As of today the team is tied for 6th place with CC at 20 points. The Black Bears have played two fewer games than UAA. They split with DU this weekend.
Minnesota picked up one point in it's series at Duluth this weekend. The Gophers have 19 points and also have two games in hand over UAA. St. Cloud got swept by UNO and so diminished their chances. They're a full 4 points our of 6th tied with Mankato for 9th. St. Cloud has two games in hand over both Mankato and UAA.
Looking at the upcoming schedule, I'd say that St. Cloud has the most difficult path. They've got Duluth on the road, UND at home, Wisconsin at home and then DU on the road. Including this weekend's series with UNO, St. Cloud's last five series of the year are against the top 5 teams in the league. Yeah, they can pretty much kiss home ice goodbye without some sort of inspired run.
Both CC and Minnesota have a bit of a mixed bag for remaining schedules and I'd rate the difficulty level of their schedules as about even. The Gophers have DU at home, Bucky on the road, Tech at home and then finish with Bemidji State. CC has Mankato at home, Bemidji on the road, Duluth at home and then finish on the road at Wisconsin.
All three of the above teams along with UAA are the contenders for the last home ice spot. The Seawolves have UND on the road, UNO at home and then finish at Mankato after the home and home Governor's Cup series.
I don't see 6th place being any lower than 27 points. For UAA that means 7 out of the remaining 12 points could very well be required to secure the first ever home ice WCHA playoff series. 7 points out of 12 against those three opponents seems very doable to me. But so does the Gophers and CC getting 8 out of their last 16 points. So there's that.