Yellowjackets Skate Past Saints
Yellowjackets 4, St. Scholastica 2
After Friday's tie with St. Scholastica, the Yellowjackets got a double dose of bad news. Already depleted by injuries, junior captain Justin Faryna (Calgary, Alberta) and starting goaltender Garrett Tinkham (Paradise, Texas) were bitten by the injury bug and could be out for an extended period.
The depth of the Yellowjackets shone through brightly on Saturday night, as the two players who stepped into Faryna's and Tinkham's positions contributed and the Yellowjackets picked up their first win of the season, 4-2 over the Saints at Mars-Lakeview Arena.
In the game two players - goaltender Ben Waalkens (Albert Lea, Minn.) and forward Bobby Roseland (Sartell, Minn.) made their Yellowjacket debuts and both played a key role in the win.
With the victory, the Yellowjackets find themselves sitting atop the NCHA standings after the first weekend of play, holding a one-point lead over four teams.
Unlike Friday, both the Yellowjackets and the Saints came out rather conservative in the opening period, as the teams went nearly five minutes without a shot on goal. The Yellowjackets, for the second night in a row, would break the ice with a first period goal. With a faceoff in St. Scholastica territory to the right of Friday's hero, goaltender Colin Rundell, Joey Massingham (Duncan, British Columbia) took the puck and fed it to Colton Kennedy (Kenora, Ontario), who came off the left wing boards and took a wrist shot from the slot that beat Rundell between the pads to make it 1-0 at 6:50. The Yellowjackets kept the puck in the offensive zone for much of the period, with the best chance for the Saints coming off of a defensive zone turnover, but Waalkens was there, making a pad save to keep the game at 1-0 late in the period.
In the second, the Yellowjackets struck early to make it 2-0. Freshman Kevin Clark (San Dimas, Calif.) made the play at the blue line to hold the zone and played the puck into the right corner. Kennedy got there first, looking over his shoulder as he went for the loose puck. He spotted Massingham in the slot, fed him a pass and Massingham put home his second goal of the season just 1:34 into the period to make it 2-0. Seconds later, the Yellowjackets would take a penalty and the Saints' power play would bite them again. This time it was Jeremy Dawes, carrying the puck into the zone on the left wing and snapping a shot from the wing past Waalkens to make it 2-1 at 3:12. The Saints momentum was short-lived, though, as the Yellowjackets answered just 46 seconds later. Josh Kesler (Naperville, Ill.) carried into the neutral zone, fed the puck up the left wing and took off for the St. Scholastica net. T.J. Ahvenniemi (Thunder Bay, Ontario) moved into the zone, looked off the defender and let a shot go from the left circle that Rundell stopped, but he kicked the rebound straight up the slot and Kesler was there, putting it home for his first goal of the year and making it 3-1 at 3:48. Tom Budziakowski (Toronto, Ontario) also picked up an assist.
The Yellowjackets would stretch the lead to 4-1 in the early going of the third period. Cody Hotchkin (Duluth, Minn.) had the puck behind his own net and sent a pass up the left wing to Roseland. Roseland made a smooth play, chipping it past the St. Scholastica defenseman and taking off on a two-on-one. Roseland carried into the Saints' zone, got the left circle and snapped a shot off, beating Rundell on the stick side just 1:48 of the period. A penalty was called on the Yellowjackets on the play, and the Saints would again close the game to two, converting in a flukey way with the man advantage. Brett Corcoran, who scored twice on Saturday, had the puck in the left circle and tried to make a pass across to the right post. Jeff Forsythe (Campbell River, British Columbia) got a stick on the pass to break up the play, unfortunately he tipped it past Waalkens and it was a 4-2 game with 16:34 to play.
Both teams had chances the rest of the way, but it was the Saints who didn't get the favor of the hockey gods. They hit three posts in the third period, including a pair within ten seconds of one another midway through the frame. In the final minute the Saints pulled their goaltender, but they were unable to generate any offense and score the equalizer.
Massingham and Kennedy finished with a goal and an assist, while Budziakowski picked up a point in his second consecutive game. Budziakowski and Massingham are the only two Yellowjackets to open the year with points in each game.
Waalkens, making his first collegiate start, made 25 saves in picking up his first collegiate win. Rundell made 20 saves at the other end for St. Scholastica. The Yellowjackets went 0-3 on the power play and are now 0-8 on the year with the man advantage. St. Scholastica went 2-5 on the power play. The Yellowjackets took six penalties for 12 minutes, while the Saints were called four times for eight minutes, a dramatic departure from Friday's game where the teams combined for 65 minutes in penalties.
The Yellowjackets (1-0-1, 1-0-1 NCHA) hit the Wessman Arena ice for the first time in 2011-12 on Friday, November 4, when they host St. Olaf College at 7:35 p.m. The game can be heard live locally on 91.3 FM KUWS, beginning with the pre-game show at 7:15 p.m. If you are outside the local listening area, you can tune in on the web at www.kuws.fm . Jon Garver will have the call.