Friday, November 20, 2015

Mavericks 1, Wildcats 1 (OT)

Freddy's three thoughts of the game ...

1. Well, that was fast: Friday night's game, which included a 5-minute overtime, ended in a cool 2 hours, 13 minutes. The first period, which had no penalties and no goals and just not a lot of stoppages at all, finished in about 25 minutes or so. And with the time change, I even have an extra hour of deadline time to work with. Why couldn't this happen for a 7:37 Central Time game? That first-period trend continued for the most part, with each team scoring a goal and each team taking two penalties. So there was that, Northern Michigan's defensive style of play and a sparse crowd of 1,334. Talk about a quiet night at the rink. Doesn't leave with much to write about either.

2. Time to get gritty: The Mavericks can come out of the U.P. with three points, but it will have to work harder to penetrate the Wildcats' packed in defense and get to rebounds and loose pucks. Dirty, gritty, greasy ... call it what you will, but that's what it will take to put a crooked number on the board and beat a tough freshman goalie in Atte Tolvanen, who has a goals-against average of 1.82 and a save percentage of .944 in seven WCHA games. "We felt like we did a pretty good job of puck possession," said Michael Huntebrinker, who led MSU with four shots on goal and made the pass that led to Brad McClure's goal. "But we didn't get the puck to the dangerous areas of the ice enough. We need to create more chances in front. We're not getting to the dirty areas."

3. New defensive hero: So much for my prediction of Zach Stepan staying at defense for the weekend, as he did down the stretch in last week's come-from-behind win over Minnesota. Stepan was the left win on the Mavericks No. 1 line (which was very good, despite not scoring, on Friday night). Instead, freshman forward Ryan Schwalbe filled in as the sixth defenseman and looked the part throughout the night. There was one third-period shift in which he was the last man back on a pair of low 2-on-1 plays and he found ways to break them up an keep the puck out of harm's way. He also had the second assist on McClure's goal. "I thought Schwalbe was solid back there." coach Mike Hastings said. "He did a good job with it."

Around the WCHA: Bowling Green 3, Alabama Huntsville 2 (OT) ... Ferris State 2, Alaska 2 (OT) ... Lake Superior State 3, Bemidji State 2, ... Penn Sate at Alaska Anchorage (late)

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