Wednesday, November 2, 2011

WCHA: Gwozdecky the Mad Hatter; Power Outage in Grand Forks

Goalie Injury Brings out Mad Hatter in Gwozdecky

The injury bugs seems to be catchy.

After taking advantage of an injury riddled Minnesota State – Mankato team in a home sweep, the Pioneers of Denver found themselves using their back-up goalie due to an injury to starter Adam Murray. Freshman Juho Olkinuora was pressed into duty in the Friday night game at Michigan Tech. The Huskies won the game 7-2, but that isn’t the real story here. The real story in the game is that the Mad Hatter of the WCHA, George Gwozdecky, struck again.

Olkinuora’s performance must have been sub-par, or maybe it was the whole Pioneer team that disappointed their coach. Gwozdecky, known for regularly practicing without a goalie, pulled Olkinuora for 1:26 in the 3rd period. And it wasn’t the end of the third, it began at the 13:04 mark of the period. He must have seen enough and wanted to send a message by pulling Olkinuora. Message that night wasn’t received because the Pioneers gave up three empty net goals in that 1:26 stretch in the third to fall behind 7-1.

Gwozdecky is a great coach and his views on playing without a goalie is always interesting. It stretches back in my experience to a Saturday night game in Duluth during January of 1995. Down by 2 with about minutes to go, Gwozdecky pulled his goalie and Denver did tie the game after multiple minutes of extra attacker play. The game ended in a tie and went to overtime where it stayed a tie. In the post game comments, Gwozdecky remarked that his team’s empty net play was so good that night he thought about pulling the goalie in OT. Truth? Maybe not, but it very well may have crossed his mind.

In another game featuring a freshman goalie, Saint Cloud’s Ryan Faragher made quite the entrance into WCHA play with a shutout of the Sioux at North Dakota.

The 4-0 loss by North Dakota either showed the brilliance of Faragher or the hot/cold nature of the traditionally great Sioux scoring machine.

In the game SCSU took two 5-minute major penalties, one at 7:35 of the first and the second at 1:44 of the second. So the Huskies played almost two thirds of the game two skaters disqualified, not to mention the ten minutes of shorthanded play. Additionally, during the second major, SCSU took a minor penalty to go down to three skaters to UND’s five for a full two minutes of the major penalty.

In all UND 0 for 7 on the power play to start the season 0-3-0 in the WCHA before their first league win the next night, 3-1, against the Huskies. Can this be the slow Sioux start we got so accustomed to in recent years?

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