My observations (I'll try and be brief), I saw both games.
Minnesota vs. Maine: Minnesota clearly was NOT up for this game. Hand it to Maine for being able to shut down and effectively I might add the speed and offensive skills of the Gophers. Maine had better positioning throughout the game, excellent control in their own zone as well as defensive coverage. The Gophers defence was just awful. They were also slow at reacting to plays and there was just alot of "standing around". At times, it was VERY evident how much they were missing Paul Martin. I saw several key mistakes that Joey Martin (CHI) made. Most notably when Greg Moore (CGY) stripped him of the puck and got the pass to Todd Jackson (DET) for Maine's 4th goal. The best Gophers Dman all game was Chris Harrington who was just all over the place. Justin Johnson made some really excellent saves on Maine to try and keep the game close. However, he needs to work on controlling those rebounds that were just killing the Gophers. Maine's line of Derek Damon-Todd Jackson-Greg Moore gave the Gophers fits all game. The line accounted for 3 of Maine's 4 goals. The most effective line for the Gopher IMHO were the Potulny Brothers Grant (OTT) and Ryan (PHI) along with Barry Tallackson (NJ). They made things happen out there despite not being able to get one by Jimmy Howard (DET). Howard didn't see all that much work until the 3rd when Minnesota was really coming on. But he was clutch when he had to be. Colin Shields (PHI) got Maine's 3rd from a face win by freshman Michel Leveille, who has absolutely sensational on faceoffs all game. Shields apparently was forgetten about by the Gophers Dmen.
Wisconsin vs. UNO: The 2nd game was an entertaining, penalty filled game. Both are very young teams and it showed. Neither team really played all that well, but both had their moments. Wisconsin did a very good job of being able to get into the UNO zone often, but they had trouble finishing plays and/or scoring. The Badgers line I was very impressed with was the line of freshmen Robbie Earl, Andrew Joudrey (WSH) and Ryan MacMurchy (STL). This line created alot of scoring oppotunities and gave UNO Dmen fits all evening. They accounted for 2 of the Badgers goals including the OT winner by co-captain Dman dan Boeser. If Robbie Earl can continue to play like he did tonight, NHL scouts will be taking a good look at this kid for the 2004 Draft. He was just amazing. Caps fans will be very happy to know that Joudrey also played very well. He made some terrific passes, showed great patience with the puck at times, but needs to be better at getting rid of it sooner (when necessary) and not be so tentative with it (at times). Ryan Suter (NSH), who I was watching closely all evening was just unbelievable. It wasn't hard to see why he was so highly-touted. He's a terrific skater, but the thing that impressed me most about Suter was his hockey smarts and his very keen ability to read and anticipate plays. As far as I could see he didn't make any mistakes and certainly didn't get lazy in his defensive role. He played in all situations and played very well. In fact, the Badgers top PP unit were all freshmen EXCEPT for Ryan MacMurchy. Suter was paired with Jeff Likens and the two worked well together on the points. Suter was paired with Sophomore Tom Gilbert in non-PP situations. Along with MacMurchy, Andrew Joudrey and Robbie Earl were also quite effective. One problem UNO had much of the night was in the area of turnovers. Too often the Mavs gave away the puck and would scramble to try and rectify the problem. Brian Haaland who started in the UNO net had to make some key saves in the game to keep it close. Bernd Bruckler, who started for UW played very well, especially in the later stages of the 3rd period, but he could be better. He gave up a softie to Scott Parse in the 2nd period that tied the game at 2-2. Another area that UNO will need to address is all the running around that they did on the PK. They spent way too much chasing the play instead of trying to make something happen in their favour.
Oilers Chick, great reports! No need to be brief at all. Thanks. :handclap: :handclap: :handclap:
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