The Nanooks skated a hard 60 (+5) minutes of hockey tonight. They had great shifts, and never fell into a lull. Michigan State battled very hard, put a lot of pucks on goal, but the difference maker there was the defense and Scott Greenham stood very tall and, as coach Ferguson has been quoted as saying, its a goaltenders job to block all the shots he's supposed to, and some that he isn't supposed to, and Greenham did exactly that this weekend.
MSU more than doubled their shots on goal tally from the previous game, throwing up 33 shots. Greenham was up to the task, stopping all but one of them, a slap shot from the point by Petry off of a rebound with a man advantage. MSU had a couple of scoring chances, including one going off of Greenham's mask, and a blistering shot from the slot that likely chipped paint off of the crossbar.
Dion's goal was very opportunistic. He reeled in a pass from Dustin Sather, and very quickly wristed the shot top shelf over the blocker side of MSU goaltender Drew Palmisano.
The key point to this evening though was defense. Coach Ferguson stated during the post game that the Spartans were very skilled at breaking out and getting the puck across the ice. Well, sure, but once you get it there, it's kind of hard for a team to set up in the offensive zone when you've got 2, maybe 3 defenders collapsing in and moving the puck the other way.
One thing I'd like to give credit to is UA's special teams. We are one of the only schools left in NCAA Division 1 to yet allow a shorthanded goal. Granted, we haven't scored a shorthanded goal yet this season either, but Taranto, Dion Knelsen, and Derek Klassen all had shorthanded scoring chances tonight. Our power play and penalty kill aren't the best in the nation, but respectable in their own right, and very much improved over last season.
A lot of MSU's shots were forced I believe and not very opportunistic. A lot of the shots they took were either bad angles, or they just threw it on net simply because there were bodies and traffic in front. They had a few good flurries of shots that forced Greenham to change into desperation mode as they got in tight, but he got the job done.
After the game went into the shoot out, I thought the Nanooks had an excellent chance, winning the majority of the shoot out opportunities so far this season. Ryan Hohl nailed the hard wrist shot over the glove, and actually hit Palmisano's glove, but it bounced up and in. Taranto had a good chance, tried to squeeze one through Drew's legs, but, that hole closed very quickly. Dion and his dangling wizardry attempt was thwarted as Palmisano poked the puck as Dion made his deke. I caught up with Dion after the end of the game, and he didn't seem all to happy with the outcome of that opportunity, but you win some and you lose some. Big kudos to Dion too, out of 14 faceoffs handled, he won 11 of them. Definitely a great stat to have.
This weekend series ended with the Nanooks earning 4 points in the standing, moving them from 7th place, back up to tied for 4th place with Nebraska-Omaha. Don't let that fool you, or go to your head, because the difference between 4th place and 10th place is 4 points... Who is in 10th place? Why, that would be our next weeks opponent, Ohio State. Every game, and every point counts as the season comes to a close in a rush for a playoff round on home ice, and potentially a first round bye.