Tonight, the Nanooks got off to a good start, albeit some minor misfires in the way of offsides calls, missed passes, and a couple of bench minors for too many men on the ice rounded it out. But in terms of actual play and cycling and such, I thought the 'Nooks did a good job. They got good cycles going at times, but the Cougars played solid defensively. The lone goal in the first came when on a shorthanded chance as the skate of the Cougars' defender got stuck in a small gap between the ice and the boards, which created a two-on-one rush as Kaare Odegard got the puck up to Matt Friese who was shoulder to shoulder with Yaremchuk. Matt made a great pass to Nik and the net was wide open for the score.
But not so much in the 2nd period as the Nanooks kicked it up a notch, tallying 4 goals to kick it up to 5-0. Josh Atkinson benefitted from a funky bounce on a shot from the point after it went over the goaltender Lucas Gore's left pad on the power play. Less than a minute later, Michael Quinn found twine from his position on the blue line. But one of two of my favorite goals on the night came from Colton Beck during a penalty kill as he rushed to a free puck against the boards and was able to chip the puck up and jump past the defenseman to get a breakaway chance. The other defenseman for Regina caught up to Beck, but Kunyk came into the play so the D-man was forced to play the pass. But at that point, Mitch Kilgore was no match for Beck's shot.
But my favorite goal was the first of two from Cody Kunyk on the evening as rookie Nolan Huysmans won a battle along the boards and popped the puck out to Colton Beck inside the faceoff circle who found Kunyk left alone on the other side who fired and scored. With the puck on his stick, the defense collapsed on Beck very quickly, but patience and a quick stick found Kunyk and the two connect again. Great board play by Huysmans to set it all up too. These three skated together on the same line most of the night, and could be a dangerous mix for opposing teams as they continue to jive.
And the offensive outpouring continued through the 3rd, as Kunyk strikes again with helpers from Quinn and Beck through the slot. The goose egg held too for Cahill and Keeney. Although they weren't really tested, the guys made all of the stops they should have made. In the postgame, new assistant coach and former player Corbin Schmidt told everyone that they're in no real rush to name anyone the starting goaltender, but they'll keep evaluating and help improve the goaltenders.
Next week, the 'Nooks head south for the Kendall Classic to take on Air Force and Canisius in the Sully as the ice has apparently been repaired. That should be an interesting tournament...
Thanks to Jaime Schwartzwald for the killer video.