Tonight's game had a little bit of everything for a Seawolves fan. A great opening period and a half where they built a 3-0 lead by playing a great defensive game had me pumped and full of confidence for a win. Then 16 seconds changed everything and I was about as anxious regarding an outcome as I have ever been. When the Gophers tied it at 3-3 that anxiety ramped up another notch.
But Mitch "Backhand" Bruijsten erased that feeling completely with his sweet power play goal at 13:18 of the 3rd ... sealing the deal. The Gophers pressed and had chances after that but Chris Kamal was sharp and the defense continued to do good work to preserve the win. The Seawolves are the only team to ever beat the Gophers at the Mariucci during the WCHA playoffs and now they've done that twice.
Sean Wiles opened up the scoring for the Seawolves with just 37 seconds remaining in a first period that the Seawolves dominated in near exactly the same manner as pretty much all six periods last weekend versus Mankato. The Gophers paid about the same amount of attention to their defensive game and after a Grant shot rebounded to the slot Wiles pounced and easily beat Patterson to put the Seawolves up 1-0. The Seawolves were opportunistic throughout the period and led in shots 14-7 while Gopher color-guy Larry Olimb kept mentioning how much UAA "sat back" on D. Interesting analysis there Mr. Hockey Guru. Maybe you should call Mankato games for them.
Jade Portwood made it 2-0 just 1:56 into the second period as he skated down the slot as the trailer on a 3-on-2 odd man rush with Parky and Wiles. Craig dropped the puck to Jade after going wide and Jade caught Patterson moving left to right and buried his shot. It was a dream come true start for the Seawolves. And it only got better from there.
With Nick Haddad off for a really weak hooking call, the Gophers shoved a puck back to the line intended for the defenseman. The pass though was badly placed and split the two defenseman down the middle. Aaron Ness then stomped his feet like a wittle baby and refused to chase the puck signaling for Patterson to come out and handle it. Patterson seemed pissed that Ness was being a lazy primadonna and made a poor attempt to shove the puck up to the pissy Ness; Alex Gellert's hustle though put him in the perfect place to intercept the puck. He took it to the slot and with a single deke opened Patterson's legs and beat him like a rented mule. 3-0 Seawolves with 9:19 gone in 2nd.
I don't know about you but I was out of my mind with delight at that point. That lasted about as long as a non-emergency moment on Stargate Atlantis when less than three minutes later while on the power play Jake Hansen broke in for a scoring chance from the blueline. He was awarded a penalty shot after not scoring on the chance. He scored on the penalty shot though to make it 3-1.
Then 15 seconds later while still on the power play, one of the only shots on the night to come from the backline got through without Kamal getting a clean look and suddenly the game was 3-2. If you didn't feel a little shell shocked at that moment you aren't human. The Seawolves did. And for much of the rest of the period they struggled at times against the offensive onslaught that followed. But that struggle paid off as they went to the dressing room before the final period with a 3-2 lead.
All that seemed to reamain was to continue to play the same way they had for most of the game. They did so but for one rush by Kevin Wehrs who beat Kamal from the high slot with a nice wrist shot high on the blocker side at 11:18 of the 3rd.
But the 'Wolves showed exactly the same RESILIENCY that they shown so many other times this season. They kept playing the game the same way. And when Erik HOWLah viciously slashed a Seawolves defenseman on his right hand (not on the stick there homerboy LaPanta) the Seawolves went on the power play. That's when Mitch scored the game winner just 21 seconds into the man advantage. He ripped a low hard backhander from 16 feet that beat Patterson just inside the left post, Patterson never saw it as Craig Parkinson skated in front of him at the perfect time.
The Gophers would get opportunities and chances over the last 6 and a half minutes to tie it back up but couldn't. The Gophers got a power play with just over 3 minutes left in the game and skated that plus the final minute with an extra guy on the ice. Parky won some key faceoffs. Kamal played solid. The defense continued to challenge for loose pucks. One scamble with under ten seconds looked as if it had a chance to produce a tying goal but Kamal and every other Seawolf player on the ice kept it out even though there were about 10 bodies in the blue ice at one point.
Great win Seawolves. There is only one thing that will make us Seawolves fans prouder. And you guys know exactly what that is. And you know exactly how to make that happen. Keep playing your game.
Here's the boxscore.
Here's the boxscore.