Yellowjackets come from behind to beat Finlandia
Yellowjackets 4, Finlandia 3
It wasn't supposed to be this hard. Coming into Friday's game against Finlandia, the Yellowjackets were a team ranked in two national polls, while the Lions were a 1-9 team that picked up their first win of the season just a week ago. You'd never know it by the way things kicked off in this one. The Yellowjackets scored early but before you knew it, the Lions had built a two-goal lead, forcing the Yellowjackets to rally for a 4-3 win Friday at Wessman Arena.
With the win, the Yellowjackets snapped a two-game losing skid.
On the power play early in the game, Superior-native Pat Dalbec (Superior, Wis./Superior Senior) walked off the left wing boards and fired a wrist shot from the left circle, beating Finlandia goaltender Jordan Marr to make it 1-0. It was the team-leading ninth goal of the season for Dalbec, a goal that snapped an extended stretch of power play futility for the Yellowjackets. Minutes later the Lions nearly tied the game, turning a blocked shot into a partial 2-on-0 break, but Yellowjacket goaltender Drew Strandberg (Thunder Bay, Ontario/Westgate CV&I) stood his ground and made the save. The Lions would eventually tie the game in the first period as Cody Essel followed up the play and took a carom off the end boards, beating Strandberg for his first goal of the year, making it 1-1 at 11:30 of the period.
As the second period got underway, it was clear that the Yellowjackets were uninspired. Finlandia took a 2-1 lead when Collin Saint-Onge went end-to-end, weaving through traffic and bouncing off a pair of checks to slide the puck underneath Strandberg just 28 seconds into the period. At the time of the goal, Brad Phenow (Sauk Rapids, Minn./Sauk Rapids-Rice) was called for a penalty and Lions made the most of it. A shot from the slot was stopped by Strandberg, but the rebound hit Finlandia forward Sean Burke to the right of the goal and richocheted past Strandberg to make it 3-1 Lions just 2:14 into the period. Yellowjacket head coach Dan Stauber decided it was the right time to call his timeout, and he got the result he was looking for. Following the timeout the Yellowjackets took off, carrying the play for long stretches the rest of the way, playing the way the Yellowjacket faithful expected from the opening faceoff. The deficit shrunk to a goal at 8:53 of the second when Andy Singerhouse (Hudson, Wis./Hill-Murray) snapped a shot from the right circle, beating Marr to make it 3-2. Minutes later the Yellowjackets had an odd-man rush, but they were unable to convert the 3-on-1.
In the third period, the Yellowjackets tied the game early. With Ryan Hill (Hermantown, Minn./Hermantown) in the penalty box, Derek Stauber (Duluth, Minn./Marshall) launched the puck all the way down the ice from his own end, having it come to rest along the back of the Lion goal. Joey Massingham (Duncan, British Columbia/Cowichan Secondary) never stopped moving his feet, getting to the loose puck behind the net and working his way to the front, letting a backhand goal that got underneath Marr to tie the game 3-3 at 5:59. The Yellowjackets would continue to apply intense pressure in the Finlandia zone and again found themselves on the power play, this time late in regulation. Zack Maxwell (Colbert, Wash./Mount Spokane) fired a shot from the blue line that was deflected out front. Marr made the save, but Tanner Dion (Hardisty, Alberta/Central Sedgewick) was on the doorstep to bury the rebound, giving the Yellowjackets a 4-3 lead with just 3:52 to play. After Finlandia pulled the goaltender Kyle Leahy (Fort St. John, British Columbia/North Peace Secondary) had a pair of golden opportunities to salt the game away with the empty-netter, but he came up just shy and the Yellowjackets had to settle for a one-goal win.
Marr made 34 saves for Finlandia, while Strandberg stopped 13 shots to pick up the win.
Each team took five penalties for ten minutes in the game. The Yellowjackets were 2-5 on the power play, while Finlandia was 1-5.
The Yellowjackets (6-4-2, 3-3-2 NCHA) and Finlandia will close out their series on Saturday, December 10 at Wessman Arena. Game time is 5:05 p.m. and can be heard live locally on 91.3 FM KUWS beginning with the pre-game show at 4:45 p.m. If you are outside the local listening area, you can tune in on the web through the iFan Sports Network. You can also watch the game live via pay-per-view through UW-Superior's online video partner, AmericaOne. Jon Garver will have the call.