Tough second period forces Yellowjackets to settle for a tie
Yellowjackets 3, Stevens Point 3
Over the years, the Yellowjackets and the Pointers have engaged in, shall we say, a few spirited affairs. No matter if it is November or March, the teams seem to play with an intensity and a venom that is rarely matched by other opponents. On Friday night at K.B. Willett Arena, it appeard that it was again going to be one of those nights, as the teams were whistled for three penalties in the first 80 seconds of play. In the end, however, things calmed down and it turned out to be nothing more than a good, entertaining early-season game.
After a strong, dominant first period, the Yellowjackets were overtaken in the second period, as the Pointers put their foot on the gas, erasing two, two-goal leads and the teams fought to a tough 3-3 overtime tie.
It was the third overtime game of the young season for each team. The Yellowjackets now stand at 0-1-2 and the Pointers 1-1-1 when playing an extra period.
The Yellowjackets owned the ice for the first period, outshooting the Pointers by a 10-5 margin and putting a pair of goals on the board. Tom Budziakowski (Toronto, Ontario) gave the Yellowjackets the lead at 3:42 of the opening frame, picking up a rebound off a blocked shot at beating Pointer goaltender Nick Graves up high on the glove side. Derek Stauber (Duluth, Minn.) had the assist. The Yellowjackets extended their lead at the 14:30 mark of the period when Tyler Klein (Fargo, N.D.) picked up a loose rebound to the right of the Stevens Point goal and put it home for his first goal of the season to make it 2-0. Andy Singerhouse (Hudson, Wis.), who took the initial shot from the slot, was credited with the assist. In the closing minutes of the period, the Yellowjackets were called for a pair of minor penalties, giving the Pointers 36 seconds of 5-on-3 power play time, but the Yellowjacket penalty kill did the job and they took a 2-0 lead into the locker room.
Stevens Point got on the board early in the second period as Nick Kenney took a shot from the right circle that Drew Strandberg (Thunder Bay, Ontario) got a piece of, but the puck still found its way across the goal line to make it 2-1 at 4:10 of the second. Less than two minutes later, however, the Yellowjackets regained the two-goal lead. On the power play, Klein dug the puck out of the right corner and sent it to the point where Chad Blanleil (Kelowna, British Columbia) let a shot go that was blocked in the slot. Justin Faryna (Calgary, Alberta), playing in his first game back from an injury, pounced on the rebound and put it home for his first goal of the season to make it 3-1. Minutes later, for the second time in the game, the Yellowjackets would take a pair of penalties and be down two skaters for an extended period. Following the second penalty call, the Pointers took their timeout and off the ensuing faceoff pulled to within one. Jon Bockmann let a one-time rocket go from the blue line that got past Strandberg to make it 3-2. Then at 16:17 of the period, Will Aide found a rebound to the right of the Yellowjacket goal and put it home for his first of the season, tying the game at 3-3.
The third period would lead you to believe that it was all Pointers if you were looking at the shots on goal, but in fact it was a wide-open, even period of hockey. Each team had glorious scoring chances, the best of which for the Pointers came on their fifth power play of the game. For the Yellowjackets it was an opportunity in the closing minutes courtesy of Faryna, who dangled through a Pointer defender and got a shot away from the right circle that was stopped by Graves.
In the overtime, Kyle Leahy (Fort St. John, British Columbia) got a shot away that got behind Graves, but a Pointer defender got behind his goaltender and cleared the puck away from harm. At the other end, Johnny Meo had a great chance to win it in the final minute, with a rebound coming up the slot, but he broke his stick and the shot never got to the net.
The Yellowjackets were outshot 37-27 in the game, including 5-4 in the overtime. Strandberg was solid in his second game of the year, making a handful of really difficult saves and getting a little help from the goalposts. He finished the game with 34 stops. Graves made 24 saves at the other end. The Yellowjackets took six penalties for 12 minutes, while the Pointers took three for six minutes. The Yellowjackets went 1-2 on the power play, and the Pointers were 1-5, including two extended stints with a two-man advantage.
The Yellowjackets (2-1-2, 1-0-2 NCHA) and the Pointers will play game two of their weekend series on Saturday (Nov. 12) at K.B. Willett Arena in Stevens Point, Wis. The opening faceoff is scheduled for 7:00 p.m.