Yellowjackets take game one from Pointers
STEVENS POINT, Wis. -- Knowing the rivalry that exists between the Yellowjackets and the Pointers, signs pointed toward a weekend series in the first round of the Peters Cup Playoffs to be a grudge match, a weekend filled with fast play, slowed only be a parade of penalties called on both clubs. Friday's series opener to be anything but that.
Offense was in short supply as both teams played disciplined and close to the vest throughout, but in the end it was the Yellowjackets who would capitalize on their best chance. A goal early in the third period provided the winning margin, as the Yellowjackets took game one of their first round series with UW-Stevens Point by a 2-1 score.
For most of the season, the Yellowjackets have been a hard-luck crew, and the way Friday began, it looked as if it would be more of the same. On the first shift of the game, the Pointers' Chade Boeckman dumped a puck in from center ice that banked off of Ryan Hill and kicked past Drew Strandberg , staking the Pointers to a 1-0 lead just 49 seconds into the contest.
As the first period rolled on, the Pointers carried the play, especially early, but Strandberg was there to close the door the rest of the way, keeping it 1-0 through one period.
In the second, the Pointers enjoyed a strong territorial advantage, but again the Yellowjackets defense and Strandberg in goal were strong. The Yellowjackets were outshot 8-2 in the middle frame, but they were able to make one of those two shots count.
Chad Blanleil (Kelowna, British Columbia/Kelowna Secondary), who had one career goal coming into the game, got the puck in Pointer territory and took a wrist shot from the high slot that was tipped and flipped over the head of Stevens Point goaltender Nick Graves, tying the game at 1-1 with 8:38 to play in the second. The Yellowjackets answered the Pointers' unassisted, fluke goal of the first period with one of their own in the second.
The teams kept things clean and stayed out of the box until the final minute of the second period, when Kyle Leahy was called for elbowing. The Yellowjacket penalty kill did the job, killing off the 1:36 of power play time that carried over into the third period. The successful penalty kill served as a turning point in the game, and the Yellowjackets played better from that point forward.
At 5:48 of the third period, the Yellowjackets finally broke through and gained their first lead of the game. Pat Dalbec broke up a play in the neutral zone and sent it ahead on the right wing, where Justin Faryna picked it up and centered a pass to Andy Singerhouse. Singerhouse made no mistake, firing a wrist shot that beat Graves high on the stick side to make it 2-1. It was the fifth of the year for Singerhouse.
The Yellowjackets would carry the play the rest of the way, and in the final minutes, did a great job of bottling the Pointers up, not allowing them to enter the offensive zone. Every time they attempted to pull Graves for sixth attacker, the Yellowjackets forced the play back near Pointers territory. A series of face-offs down the stretch kept Stevens Point out of the Yellowjacket zone, and they were never able to take full-advantage of having the extra attacker on the ice.
For the game, each team took two penalties for four minutes and each team went 0-2 on the power play.
Neither goaltender was particularly busy in the game, which saw a lot of play between the blue lines. Strandberg got the win, finishing with 14 saves. Graves was tagged with the loss, making 11 saves in the process.
The Yellowjackets (10-9-7) will look to close out the series with a win on Saturday (Feb. 17). The Pointers need a win to push the series to a deciding mini-game. Game time on Saturday is 7:00 p.m. and can be heard live locally on 91.3 FM KUWS, or on the Internet at www.ifan.tv. Jon Garver and Tom Budziakowski will have the call. The broadcast will begin right at game time to accommodate broadcast coverage of Yellowjacket men's basketball.