Notes and Thoughts
-This game had the feel of two teams that were interested in winning, but also knew there were bigger stakes next weekend. Sheldon Dries and Wade Allison were day-to-day for Western Michigan, and I suspect might have played if Western’s season was on the line, but didn’t dress today and almost certainly won’t tomorrow for the consolation game.
Down two late, I thought Western Michigan would have pulled their goalie with 3:30 to play and about a minute of 4-on-3 power play. Instead, they waited an extra minute before pulling goalie Ben Blacker in kind of a half-hearted attempt that didn’t work.
-The big difference for Minnesota Duluth today was that they were carried by their veterans. Alex Iafallo set up the first goal and was rewarded with a goal of his own in the second period after creating numerous chances earlier in the game.
Iafallo gets mentioned from time-to-time on various ‘top NCAA free agent’ lists. I’ve never put him in that category personally, but with games like tonight, I can definitely see it. He’s strong, fast, and most importantly such a smart player. His top line with him and Dom Toninato make so many small little veteran plays that end up making a big difference. I’m still not guaranteed that gets him to the NHL.
-Power plays were a little sloppy in this game, especially in the first period when the refs seemed to call everything. Western Michigan got over a minute of 5-on-3 time and Andy Murray used his timeout just 2:24 into the game to rest his top unit and try to set something, but the Broncos didn’t have any real scoring chances. Missing Allison and Dries certainly didn’t help in that regard.
Shots on goal: UMD: 8-10-5-23 WMU: 8-9-9-26
Even strength shot attempts: UMD: 9-19-9-37 WMU: 5-19-15-39
Prime scoring area attempts: UMD: 8-9-3-20 WMU: 3-6-9-18
What do the numbers tell us?
13:09 Dom Toninato from Alex Iafallo and Adam Johnson (power play) 1-0 Minnesota Duluth
Iafallo brought the puck off the left half boards towards the center of the ice, and flipped a backhand shot on net. Blacker made the first save, but Toninato was there for the rebound goal.
16:34 Taylor Fleming from Griffen Molino and Lawton Courtnall 1-1 tie
A loose puck deep in the UMD zone bounced out to Fleming in the high slot. He picked up the puck on his backhand, quickly moved it to his forehand and beat Miska with a shot.
16:58 Kyle Osterberg from Jarod Hilderman and Adam Johnson 2-1 Minnesota Duluth
Hilderman took a shot from the right point into traffic in front of the net. The shot was blocked by a Western Michigan skate, but Osterberg picked up the loose puck and slid it back past Blacker.
7:10 Colt Conrad from Taylor Fleming and Hugh McGing 2-2 tie
Fleming’s shot from the point was blocked in front of the net. Conrad picked up the loose puck in front of the net, hesistated to draw the goalie out of position, then scored into an open net.
16:11 Alex Iafallo from Parker Mackay and Neal Pionk 3-2 Minnesota Duluth
Iafallo skated into the offensive zone on the right wing and lasered a wrist shot that went under the glove of Blacker.
14:58 Parker Mackay from Adam Johnson and Kyle Osterberg 4-2 Minnesota Duluth
Johnson stole the puck in the neutral zone and came down the left wing on a 2-on-1. He stopped hard at the bottom of the left circle and let the Western Michigan defender slide by. Johnson then passed across the ice to Mackay for a tap-in goal.
17:59 Jared Thomas unassisted (empty net) 5-2 Minnesota Duluth
Thomas shot a puck from his own zone that went through a Western Michigan defender to get down the ice and go into the open net.