Yellowjackets again rally from behind, tip Finlandia
Yellowjackets 3, Finlandia 1
After having to gut-out a tough, one-goal win on Friday, the Yellowjackets again found themselves in need of a rally in order to get a win on Saturday in their rematch with Finlandia. And fortunately for them, they indeed did have the intestinal fortitude to keep plugging away and eventually gain the win, scoring three unanswered goals en route to a 3-1 win over the Lions on Saturday evening at Wessman Arena.
If you were late arriving to the game on Saturday, or perhaps stopped off to purchase a refreshment before taking your seat, odds are you missed the first goal of the game. The Yellowjackets won the opening faceoff, but turned the puck over and the Lions came back on an odd-man rush. Collin Saint-Onge skated in on the right wing and sent a pass across the slot to Sean Burke, who one-timed a shot past Drew Strandberg (Thunder Bay, Ontario/Westgate CV&I) to make it 1-0 Finlandia just 14 seconds into the game.
Moments later, Chuck Benik came off the bench as a penalty expired and went in alone on a breakaway, beating Strandberg with a wrist shot, but the puck hit the post and the score remained 1-0. Later in the period, James Brey took a centering pass in the high slot and fired a shot against the grain that Strandberg just got with the toe to keep the Yellowjackets down by a goal.
Early in the second period the Yellowjackets tied the game with their sixth shorthanded goal of the season. Jeff Forsythe (Campbell River, British Columbia/Timberline Secondary) intercepted a pass in the neutral zone and chipped the puck past a defender, entering Finlandia territory on the right wing. He sent a pass over to a wide open Pat Dalbec (Superior, Wis./Superior Senior), who fired a wrist shot from the left circle past Cedrik LaFrance to tie the game at 1-1. Dalbec's 10th goal of the season came at 2:52. The remainder of the second period it was all Yellowjackets, who outshot the Lions 16-1 in the frame, but they were unable to climb ahead for the first time in the game.
The score would remain tied 1-1 until later in the third period. Brett Meyers (Brooklyn Park, Minn./Champlin Park) utilized his speed and took a defender wide on the left wing. The defender had no choice but to chop Meyers with his stick, and the result was a slashing penalty and the fifth Yellowjacket power play of the game. It was the second penalty of the game drawn by Meyers. After just 14 seconds the Yellowjackets had their first lead of the game. Dalbec had the puck on the left wall and fed a pass to Kyle Leahy (Fort St. John, British Columbia/North Peace Secondary) on the goal line to the left of the net. Leahy would get a shot away that LaFrance stopped, but the rebound kicked right to Forsythe to the right of the goal and he buried it for his fifth of the season at 16:16 to make it 2-1. Dalbec and Brad Phenow (Sauk Rapids, Minn./Sauk Rapids-Rice) were credited with assists.
With time being of the essence, the Lions managed to finally vacate their zone and get the puck into Yellowjacket territory, giving them the chance to get their goaltender out of the net. The Yellowjackets got the puck back into Finlandia territory, and Meyers intercepted a clearing attempt on the left wing and fired it into the empty net to make it 3-1. His third goal of the year was unassisted.
The Yellowjackets again handily outshot the Lions, and Strandberg was forced to make just 17 saves, improving his record to 6-3-1. LaFrance made 36 saves for Finlandia.
The Yellowjackets took three penalties for six minutes, while Finlandia took five penalties for ten minutes. The Yellowjackets were 1-5 on the power play while Finlandia was 0-3.
The Yellowjackets (7-4-2, 3-3-2 NCHA) will be off for nearly a month, not playing again until they travel to Augsburg College on Friday, January 6 at 7:00 p.m. The game can be heard live locally at 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 tune in on the web at www.ifan.tv. Jon Garver will have the call.