For those that don't know, the Blue/Gold games are not your standard hockey game. They play two periods, 25 minutes each with a running clock, and penalties only last a minute. The game started off better than I expected. Sure, their was some readjustments to be made as the game went on, but the game started off good.
The first 10 minutes of the game seemed to fly by, both teams playing good, solid defense, and staying really tight on the forecheck. Then, with some good stick handling and a nice set-up pass from Ryan Hohl in front of the net, Justin Filzen knocked it past starting goalie Scott Greenham. With 15 minutes remaining (and counting down, mind you) in the first period, Blue was on top 1-0.
But the Gold team reacted, and with both team captains skating for Gold, they noticably picked it up and took control. Derek Klassen launched a puck at the goal, only to take an unlucky bounce off the crossbar and ultimately waved off. But then, about four minutes after Filzen's goal, Joe Sova, in his best Scott Niedermayer impression, winds up and blasts a shot from the blue line to the top right corner of the goal that Colin Rundell was just not quick enough to catch. And just like that, the game is knotted up 1-1. And it stayed that way heading into the break. Now, between the two periods was a bit of a skills competition, which I will get into at the end of this post for the sake of continuity.
The second period started out strong, the defense for both sides picked up right where they left off and the puck went back and forth for most of the second period without either team allowing a goal. But, some opportunities came and gone for both sides, notably a Nik Yaremchuk breakaway was stonewalled by Steve Thompson, and a missed connection across the crease between Nik Yaremchuk, and Dustin Sather on a 3 on 2 rush that just passed by the blade of Sather's stick. But it wasn't until 18 minutes and 40 seconds into the second period that Sova served up a prime set up pass to freshman Jarret Granberg that broke the tie. After setting up low, Ron Meyers passed the puck back out to Sova on the point, then dished it to Granberg who facilitated a family reunion between puck and twine. Now, Gold has taken the lead once again 2-1 with 7:20 left.
Blue came out fired up, but was still unable to tie it. As timed ticked away, now with only 47 seconds left, time calls for desperate measures, Blue pulls their goalie. Aaron Gens (I believe) headed on to the ice as the extra attacker. After about 31 seconds and still no goal, Blue calls time out. After coming up with the plan, with 16.7 seconds left on the clock, blue lines up with 4 forwards and 2 defensemen. After winning the faceoff, Bryant Molle fires one towards the net that deflected off of Thompson's pads. Next thing I know, just 6 seconds after the puck was dropped, Dion Knelson, who led the Nanooks last year in scoring, sneaked it past the right side of Steve Thompson for the tie with only 10.3 seconds remaining.
I know, this is only an exhibition game between our own team, but I got excited. Maybe a bit too excited. But come on, this is ending up one tight hockey game.
Now at first I was under the impression that if a tie were to come about, a shootout would commence. According to the press release "...and if at the end of the second period the teams are tied, a shootout will be used to decide the winner." Well, so much for that I suppose. 5 minutes were put on the clock and 5 skaters and a goalie from each team were all on the ice, so overtime it is.
Overtime started and scoring opportunities were not going to come easy for either side. And neither defense would allow a goal in the OT period. Which is good, I wanted to see a shootout anyway.
My wish came true, and the shootout was dominated by Blue. First shooter for Blue was Nik Yaremchuk, and this true freshman did not disappoint. He deked Thompson out of position and scored against Thompson's right side. Kaare Odegard had a close one, but was ultimately stopped by Rundell. 1-0 Blue. Justin Filzen steps up and puts one in the five-hole to make it 2-0 in the shootout. Adam Cardwell takes a shot for Gold that is ultimately stopped by Rundell to end the shootout.
Blue wins the game in the shootout.
Third Star: Joe Sova
Second Star: Jarret Granberg
First Star: Justin Filzen
There were a few skills competitions that separated the two periods. In summary, the winners are as follows:
- Fastest Skater: Ron Meyers
- Fastest Shot: Cody Butcher, 93MPH
In a future post, to come probably later this week, I'll discuss my thoughts and prognostications based from this game, including my first impressions from our rookies.