Yellowjackets open 2012 with a win
Yellowjackets 3, Augsburg 1
For the Yellowjackets men's hockey team, it's amazing how identical 3-1 scores in their last two games could feel so different. To close out 2011, the victory over Finlandia was a win, yet it left many feeling almost like the game was a loss. In other words, it was a win, but not a good win. On Friday night in Minneapolis, the Yellowjackets opened the 2012 portion of the schedule with a 3-1 win at Augsburg, and the spirits were much higher following this two-goal victory.
After falling behind early in the second period, the Yellowjackets came roaring back, scoring the last three goals in the game to pick up the win, their third in a row.
The first period was played at a tremendous pace, not normally reminiscent of a teams that were off for the better part of a month. Showing little rust, the Yellowjackets and Auggies enjoyed an end-to-end opening 20 minutes that, at times, featured a frantic pace, but the goaltenders did their jobs and the teams went to the dressing room scoreless. The best chance of the first period came courtesy of Yellowjacket sophomore Pat Dalbec (Superior, Wis./Superior Senior) who went in alone on a breakaway and was denied on the initial shot and the rebound by Auggie goaltender Justin Lochner.
In the second period the Yellowjackets took an early penalty and the Auggies took advantage of it to stake themselves to an early lead. Landon Olson took a shot from the left point that was tipped out front by Derek Loisel, beating a screened Drew Strandberg (Thunder Bay, Ontario/Westgate CV&I) to make it 1-0 just 1:31 into the period. The Auggies continued to apply pressure and had a couple of golden opportunities to stretch the lead, but Strandberg was there each time, stopping one opportunity with a great blocker save and thwarting another opportunity with a brilliant two-pad stack save. With the Auggies held at bay, the Yellowjackets were able to tie it up with a power play goal of their own. Joey Massingham (Duncan, British Columbia/Cowichan Secondary) started the play in the right corner, the puck eventually coming into the high slot and Jeff Forsythe (Campbell River, British Columbia/Timberline Secondary) let a shot go that was deflected out front by Kyle Leahy (Fort St. John, British Columbia/North Peace Secondary) to tie the game at 1-1. Leahy's third goal of the year came at 13:53. On the ensuing faceoff, the Auggies again had a chance to grab the lead, but once again they were stymied by Strandberg.
The Yellowjackets came out storming in the third period and wasted little time taking their first lead of the game. Dalbec chipped the puck ahead to center ice and Massingham caught up to it and carried into the Augsburg zone. From the left side, he fed a pass back to Dalbec in the high slot and he let a bullet of a wrist shot go that beat Lochner high, glancing off the post and in to make it 2-1. Leahy also picked up an assist. For Dalbec, who has scored at least one goal in eight of the last nine games, it was his team-leading 11th goal of the year. The Yellowjackets closed the scoring late, getting an insurance goal to put the game out of reach. The Auggies won a faceoff in Yellowjacket territory, but the puck eluded both of their defensemen and leaked into the neutral zone. Tyler Klein (Fargo, N.D./Fargo North) won the footrace to the puck and carried into Augsburg territory on the left wing, centering a pass to a streaking Cody Hotchkin (Duluth, Minn./Denfeld) who put it home, his third of the year to make it 3-1. Forsythe also picked up an assist on the goal, which came at 14:51.
Strandberg picked up his seventh win of the season, making 26 saves. At the other end, Lochner made 36 stops in the losing effort for Augsburg.
The Yellowjackets went 1-3 on the power play and took just one penalty for two minutes in the game. The Auggies, meanwhile, took three penalties for six minutes and were a perfect 1-1 on the man advantage.
The Yellowjackets (8-4-2, 3-3-2 NCHA) will close out the non-conference portion of their schedule on Saturday (Jan. 7) at Gustavus. Game time is 7:05 p.m. and can be heard live locally on 91.3 FM KUWS, beginning with the pre-game show at 6:45 p.m. If you are outside the local listening area you can tune in on the web at www.ifan.tv. Jon Garver will have the call.