This weekend marked the end of UAA's non-conference schedule for the season. From here on out it's nuffin but WCHA opponents. The non-conference record for this year ... 3-2-1. That's not horrible, and it's not stellar either. It's not likely to be a great help should our boys be on the bubble of the NCAA tournament at season's end.
After the brutal loss on Friday night the team did come back out on Saturday and played with renewed vigor and focus for 60 minutes. It didn't result in a win obviously but they led the game for a solid 50 mins or so and held onto that lead. It took a bad call to make the difference; let's talk about that bad call.
A five minute major for interference that the referee described he called because the PSU player was in a vulnerable position. There was no vulnerability due to his position on the ice. He was in the middle of the circle; his vulnerability was that he was going for the puck with another UAA player. Interference is called when the player checked doesn't have the puck. In this case, the puck was in the PSU players feet. There was no contact to the head, though Austin Azurdia did use his elbow in the commission of said felony. Then the PSU player dropped to the ice like a flopping sack of potatoes and stayed down just long enough to influence the referees call.
When the referee that called that looked at the replay he surely must be embarrassed by his ineptitude. Coach Thomas as generally gracious about the call in the post-game interview with Tuttle but it was a really bad call. The result of the play should have been Azurdia getting 2 mins for elbowing and the PSU player getting 2 for embellishment.
The thing that really bothered me from Saturday night though was the number of times PSU players made contact with Mantha. FOUR separate times Mantha was taken out and the net dislodged. How many times did UAA players run over the PSU netminder? ZERO ... the PSU net wasn't dislodged all night. The one instance of contact between a UAA player and goaltender Skoff resulted in the absolute most hilarious full-twisting double-flip I've ever seen a goalie attempt. Should have been a diving call on that one.
The referees on the weekend made about an equal number of stupid calls for each side so mostly it was a wash except for the aforementioned 5 min major debacle.
And what the hell was with that linesman? Haven't seen that sort of ridiculous mismanagement of face-offs since Jeff Cooper stopped being an official. Anyway, it was good to see Coach Thomas give that crew a piece of his mind a couple of times. The linesman were two guys that we often have ... so I dunno what was up their butt this weekend.
Now it's on the road to Minnesota and Michigan to face what's certainly the best two teams in the WCHA: Mankato and Tech. There's 8 league points available and getting any of them isn't guaranteed by any stretch of the imagination. It'll take 60 minutes every night, an appropriate game-plan AND lots of guys having their best games ... they know this now, right? Any slack play will cost us WCHA points.