A very interesting game to watch, to put it simply. A lot of scoring chances for Western were flubbed, but with the Great Wall of Greenham in net, he stopped the rest. Scotty literally played one of the best games I've ever seen a goaltender play. He was sharp, composed, and stayed in front of the puck. My pre-game analysis was pretty much right on in terms of Westerns goal production. They really take every chance they get to put the puck on the goaltender looking for a rebound or a good bounce, and they do very well maintaining puck possession in the offensive zone. 38 shots on goal kind of proves that. But a lot of things went wrong for Western, and for Alaska on the same note. The Broncos had chance after chance in odd man rushes and open back doors, and a lot of them were shot wide, or the forward fanned on the shot. The first period alone, Western could have put up 4 or 5 goals. You'll see that in the video recap. A lot of those chances drew the 'Nooks to take some penalties, finding themselves shorthanded for 6:00 of the first period. The Nanooks penalty kill remained solid and did a good job limiting their chances, only allowing 7 shots to reach Greenham, who stopped them all.
As coach Ferguson claimed, the first period got off to a bit of a sloppy start. A couple of guys took some penalties, some warranted more than others, but thats how it goes. Western dominated the stat sheet, outshooting the 'Nooks 14-6, and were 10-7 in faceoffs. Both sides had some quality scoring chances, but no goals on the board. Andy Taranto had the highlight of the period though, snatching a puck out of mid-air with the glove on the forecheck, and found himself all alone with Bronco netminder Jerry Kuhn, who found himself in a situation he probably didn't want to be in. Kuhn came out like a theif though, robbing Taranto's chance through the five hole. The first period alone, Western could have put up 4 or 5 goals. You'll see that in the video recap. A lot of those chances drew the 'Nooks to take some penalties, finding themselves shorthanded for 6:00 of the first period. The Nanooks penalty kill remained solid and did a good job limiting their chances, only allowing 7 shots to reach Greenham, who stopped them all.
The second period I thought got off to a much quicker start. Both teams were skating a bit faster, and more fundamentally sound. I didn't think the 'Nooks were quite on their game yet, but from the first period they were heading in the right direction. Thanks to a high sticking penalty taken by WMU's Luke Witkowski, the door of power play opportunity had opened for the 'Nooks, and they took no time to go through it. Just 27 seconds after the penalty box door closed, the puck was in the net, and the door opened again. Sova and Gens kept the puck at the point, looking for a lane to shoot it through. Gens found Taranto perched just behind the goaltender, who took no time getting it off his stick, hitting Jerry Kuhn in the back of his left leg, Gretsky-style, and in the net. A bit later, a huge opportunity came for Western as Nanook defeseman Michael Quinn's stick collapsed in his hands, which resulted in a 3 on 1 opportunity in the wrong direction. The shot however, went wide. WMU forward Greg Squires found an opportunity a bit later through traffic, and got the puck through and just under the crossbar to beat Greenham to tie the game just 1:43 after Taranto's power play tally.
Carlo Finucci had a very pretty goal on the rush that had some extra meaning to it. About half way through the period, a WMU player got away with throwing an elbow into Carlo's face after he took a shot. Carlo went down, and off the ice for a short while but he wouldn't miss his next shift. Rushing up the ice with Granberg, Jarret left the puck for Finucci just inside the blue line. Carlo took it just above the faceoff circle to the right of the goal and sniped it top shelf glove side to go up 2-1. Keep your eyes peeled in the video, you'll be impressed.
In the third period, I thought the 'Nooks got back on their game. They really took it to Western and started generating some quality scoring chances. But a hooking penalty on Cody Kunyk seemed to take the momentum away, and Western capitalized. Max Campbell had an impressive shot of his own on the rush from the high slot area to tie the game, where it would end. "Moving forward in the third period, we gave up that goal but I thought it was probably our best period of the night. Where we started to do some things, simplified our game, started to win some more battles, got some pucks in deep, started to forecheck, and creating scoring chances." Ferguson said after the game, and I couldn't agree more. He had also mentioned Western getting a better start, which is what I would like to see change the most in game two tonight.
And on to the video... Big kudos to Jaime Schwartzwald and the guys at TVTV for getting this put together so quickly. At about the 40 second mark, Kaare Odegard rocks Mike Leone's world with a beautiful open ice hit.