Saturday, December 30, 2006

In Heaven There Are No...Lawyers

So, it seems the Huskies have found a spot in #4, once again taking the bottom rung of the GLI ladder. After giving up a game to the over-talked Michigan Wolverines, they faced off against the Harvard Crimson for a rare WCHA-ECACHL matchup. Unfortunately, the Huskies didn't show up until about halftime, allowing the Crimson to take a hard-fought 3-2 victory back to Massachusettes.

Why did this happen, you ask? Personally, I feel the NCAA embarassed themselves with the officiating in this game, with some crazy calls, and a lot of no-calls on both ends. The worst of the gafes was the recalling of Alex Lord's second period goal, shoved in allegedly right after the referee blew his whistle, amidst a pile of Crimson and Huskies. Brian Aaron's premature blowing showed up many times, once even calling play dead when the puck was 10 feet above Crimson goaltender Kyle Richter's head.

One cannot blame the entire mess on the officals, though, as Aaron was successful in ending the after-the-whistle scrums that polluted the early stages of the game. One of the biggest reasons for the loss was poor defensive play by the Huskies. In a play similar to a few seen in the Minnesota series, Mike Taylor was able to get a goal on an odd man rush where the Husky defenseman was unable to stop the pass across to center. The second and third goals were lucky breaks that caught Michael-Lee Teslak off guard, mostly because of poor turnovers and players out of position. Another major issue was the Husky powerplay, which ended up converting for the second consecutive night, but the overall performance of the man-advantage was the typical sub-par play. Goals don't get in without shots, and the puck spends way too much time circling around the fringes of the offensive zone.

In all honesty, this game should have gone to the Huskies. Harvard lowest-quality hockey games I've witnessed in a long time. Two of their goals were scored on lucky shots, while the rest ofplayed one of the the time was spent coughing up the puck. The game had no flow, mostly due to the fact that the Joe Louis Arena began to sink toward Rob Nolan's end, causing the puck to incessantly slide down the ice unaccompanied. I've seen less icing on three-foot tall wedding cakes. Maybe it was a Harvard tactic to kill all flow in the game by continually icing the puck, but no one was able to get any momentum going until the Huskies took over in the third period. I was very impressed with the final minutes, and wish that Richter would have coughed up a goal, as he played a sub-par game as well, though he is only a freshman.

I think we can take three good words out of this game: Bunger, Lord and Gwilliam. These three young guys may not have the numbers of some of the other Huskies, but their work ethic is something to be envied. Ryan Bunger has not seen as much action this year as many other skaters, but every time he hits the ice, he is moving at full speed, hittting hard and making plays. Alex Lord has a similar style. He can always be found in front of the net ready to strike, and even the FSD analysts were impressed with the hard hits he took tonight. Finally, Malcolm Gwilliam, when he wasn't redecorating the penalty box for the first 10 minutes of the second, showed prowess with his forechecking, scoring the second [or third, depending on your interpretation] goal for the Huskies and coming close many other times.

So, now that another GLI has passed what should be expected for the rest of the year? The final months of the Huskies' run are going to be tough. It is imperative that they gain momentum in these next three weekends. Minnesota-Duluth, on a serious slide, is their first opponent. The two games should not be too difficult to gain points in, provided they play smart and do not get too zealous. After UMD, the Bemidji State Beavers visit Houghton, for a series that should be relatively interesting, as the Beavers have overthrown several WCHA opponents, including Colorado College last night. The Huskies will then go to Anchorage to fight the Seawolves, in games that should be very different than the two in Houghton, as the Seawolves are on a hot streak. After this, they face Colorado College, Minnesota State, Denver, Wisconsin and Minnesota. Hopefully our Huskies can pull off some upsets, and finish with a respectable record in a WCHA that is anything but stable at this time.

There were some pretty intersting results in the hockey world this weekend, so I'll bring you all up to speed on some of those later. Enough hockey for one weekend, but at least the FSD guys get to call another MSU-UM game.

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