I didn't have much to say Saturday about how the guys played since the overwhelming sense I got from that night's game about the refereeing overrode everything. But there were some nice performances from some guys that should be highlighted.
First I'd like to start with the blueliners. I thought as a group Seawolf defenseman played really well. There can be no denying that some mistakes with the puck and/or missed assignments turned into positives for Mankato. That said, I really liked what I've seen out of Scott Warner and Brad Gorham lately. These two guys are playing like leaders. They both seem determined and focused to me.
After the leadership group on the blueline the name I want to mention is freshman Derek Docken. I'm wowed at his consistently excellent defensive play. I know he made a mistake this weekend (a split second one) that led to a goal on Saturday night but that's been the rare exception for this rookie. I think it's already time to look at him as a veteran. He certainly hasn't played like a rookie. His positioning is always smart. He's willing to carry the puck deep into the opposition zone and always does it smartly.
I'm completely jazzed with everything he's done so far this season. He's played every game so far and I'd expect him to continue to do so. Derek probably isn't going to awe us fans with many dipsy-doing fancy-pants skate-o-rama hat-trick games over his career but his steady excellence and adherence to his defensive responsibilities will make him a memorable player for me. I'm looking forward to the next 3 and 3/4 seasons with him standing watch back there.
We got to see a couple of guys play this weekend that we either hadn't seen or only seen briefly. It's a tough schedule and league when it takes 14 games to get everyone some ice time in a game. I understand Kory Roy had been injured though I'm not aware of the extent. In any case, he played this weekend and looked comfortable in his roles ... it's difficult to pick up a new number on an opposition broadcast so I didn't get to see him play much but as I said when I did notice him he looked good.
Andrew Pettitt got some face-time on the TV broadcast as the Mankato folks nabbed him for a between the period interview. He handled himself just as well in the interview as he did on the ice. I saw him make at least one sweet spin move to advance the puck into the Mankato zone that told me he's got some nice stick skills and good feet. Most of his action the rest of the team was geared to possession and cycling which he performed well.
Good on Scott Allen bagging his first collegiate goal. He's played with great energy so far this season and I liked what I saw of him backchecking more effectively this weekend. Let's hope that getting the first one behind him opens up the gates for more.
Curtis Leinweber had the most individually successful series of any Seawolf player this weekend. He came into the series with no points on the year which had been mostly played at forward. He moved back to the blueline this weekend and banged in 3 goals plus an assist. I have to say at this point that my consistent hope to see him play more at forward over the last couple of seasons is done. It sure does seem that he brings the offense more effectively from the backend than when he plays up on the wing. I haven't looked at all the stats from other WCHA series yet but it will surprise me if he doesn't get the nod for WCHA Defensive Player of the Week.
We've been seeing a shitload of different lineups so far this season. Some of that is obviously due to injury. Here's what I want to say about that though ... it's going to give a lot of guys chances to skate with a lot of other guys ... and in the end that's going to contribute to the same sort of team feeling that we saw at the end of last season. Guys playing FOR each other equals success. Let's none of us forget how important that is and how it will become a contributor to success down the line.
I'm sure I've missed some things I wanted to mention but I'm about out of time here today to get this posted. I'll have at least one decent series preview this week leading up to the series against the hostile and abusive UNDs. With assholes like me going out and finding offensive and/or racist blog titles and picture folks in Grand Forks still wonder why they're being forced to drop their nickname?