Rough, physical game goes the way of the Yellowjackets
Yellowjackets 5, Stevens Point 2
Saturday night at K.B. Willett Arena in Stevens Point, it wasn't actually throwback night, it only seemed that way. With ten penalties per team, injuries and one post-whistle scrum after another, Saturday's tilt between the Yellowjackets and the Pointers was more reminiscent of a game from the 1980's than what is usually seen today. As a result, special teams played a pivotal role in the outcome, which went the way of the Yellowjackets, who skated away with a 5-2 victory.
With the win, the Yellowjackets (3-1-2, 2-0-2 NCHA) jump back into sole-possession of first place in the NCHA. The Yellowjackets have picked up six of a possible eight points thus far in league play, and all of their points have been earned on the road.
Stevens Point did something in the sixth game of the season that had yet to happen to the Yellowjackets in 2011. The Yellowjackets scored first in each of the season's five games, but on Saturday, the Pointers opened the scoring. On an early power play, the Pointers employed good puck movement along the perimeter to gain the lead. Tyler Krueger had the puck at the left point and sent a pass across the box to the right circle where Kyle Heck took the pass and ripped a wrist shot high past the glove and shoulder of Drew Strandberg (Thunder Bay, Ontario) to make it 1-0 at 5:32. The Yellowjackets, however, immediately answered with a power play marker of their own. Pat Dalbec (Superior, Wis.) had the puck on the left wall and he fed a pass to Jeff Forsythe (Campbell River, British Columbia), who walked from the left point and drilled a slap shot low past Pointer goaltender Nick Graves to tie the game at 1-1. Minutes later the Pointers took another penalty. Then during that power play, Cody Hotchkin (Duluth, Minn.) was checked from behind by Brandon Busse, who was given a five-minute major penalty and game misconduct. The entended two-man advantage and five minute power play provided nothing for the Yellowjackets, and the teams went to the locker room tied 1-1.
The Yellowjackets would take their first lead of the game on their first shorthanded goal of the season at 5:48 of the second period. Alec Doig (New Prague, Minn.) broke up a Stevens Point rush in the neutral zone and started the Yellowjackets back two-on-one. He fed a pass to Dalbec who got between the circles and blew a wrist shot past Graves to make it 2-1. It was the second of the season for Dalbec. This time, however, it was the Pointers' turn to come right back and tie the game. Nick Kenney had the puck below the goal line and shed a pair of checks, driving his way to the front of the net and sliding a shot underneath Strandberg to tie the game at 2-2, just 35 seconds after the Yellowjackets took the lead. Later in the period, Tyler Klein (Fargo, N.D.) started a rush into the neutral zone and sent a long pass cross-ice to Andy Singerhouse (Hudson, Wis.) on the right wing. Singerhouse entered the zone and fed a pass to Klein just inside the line, and Klein got the circles and let a shot go that beat Graves low, making it 3-2 at 13:25.
Things got a little rougher in the third period. More rough stuff led to more power plays for each team. With about six minutes to play in the third period, Klein blocked a shot and headed in on a breakaway. In the act of shooting, he was slashed and his shot was stopped. The penalty was called, sending the Yellowjackets to the power play, but Klein's night would come to a close as well. The impact of the shot did damage to his finger, and he had to leave the game for medical attention. The Yellowjackets nearly capitalized on the ensuing power play, but came up just short. Then, one second after the power play expired, Dalbec got the puck in the left circle after Forsythe had a shot blocked, and he ripped his second goal of the game past Graves to give the Yellowjackets some breathing room with just under four minutes to play. The Yellowjackets closed out the scoring with seven seconds to play. Already shorthanded, the Yellowjackets were two-men down when the Pointers pulled their goaltender. Justin Faryna (Calgary, Alberta) blocked a shot and the rebound headed for the neutral zone. Faryna caught the puck and went in alone on the empty net, only to be chopped down by a defender, missing the net with his shot. By rule, Faryna was awarded a goal, his second of the season, and the second shorthanded goal of the game for the Yellowjackets, making the final score 5-2.
Strandberg picked up his second win of the year, finishing the night with 18 saves, while Graves made 20 saves for the Pointers.
The Yellowjackets took ten penalties for 28 minutes, while the Pointers took ten for 39 minutes. The Yellowjackets went 1-6 on the power play, but they Pointers were 1-8.
The Yellowjackets return home on Friday, November 18, when they will host UW-Stout at Wessman Arena. Game time is 7:05 p.m. and can be heard live locally on 91.3 FM KUWS, beginning with the pre-game show at 6:45 p.m. If you are outside the local listening area, you can hear the free audio stream at www.ifan.tv, or watch the game via UW-Superior's pay-per-view partner, AmericaOne. Jon Garver will have the call.