For possibly the first time ever I got the starting lineup for both teams as it was announced loud enough for me to hear! Hurray!
Starting lineup for NM Ice Wolves was Center: Emil Gabrielson (#18), Left Wing: Philip Ekberg (#9), Right Wing: Drew Lorinchak (#20), Defense: Keegan Langefels (#4), Defense: Mitchell Becker (#2), Goalie: Henrik Laursen (#1)
Starting lineup for Kenai River Brown Bears was Center: Logan Ritchie (#7), Left Wing: Zach Krajnik (#24), Right Wing: Theo Thrun (#16), Defense: Ryan Reid (#14), Defense: Dylan Hadfield (#4), Goalie: Landon Pavlisin (#1)
Before we get to the game, I just want to say how much I adore showing up for warmups and getting to be right against the glass shooting between all the scratches and puck-marks. It makes my life so much easier when trying to clean up an image and I never feel like the pressure is on in any way. I get some great photos like that despite them not really being ‘game’ photos. They’re still photos of all the guys who’re out there working their butts off and that’s all that really matters. That said, I got some really awesome ones today, so I’m going to bombard you before the review. I’m not sorry.
Okay, I’ll let you out of the photo safari… for a while. Onward, upward, HOLY SHIT THIS GAME!
Right, so, this is how it feels to completely stomp two games in a row. I don’t just mean win, I mean holy fucking shit WIN. Spoilers, I know, but uh, well.. we won 6:2 and it was glorious. Ridiculous. Amazing. 10/10 could not get enough and want more hockey (oh it’s a good thing there’s tomorrow night).
We started off the first period on fire. Our first goal was scored by Alex Dominique (#21) with an assist from Griffen Sanom (#17) with 16:39 on the clock. I’m over here with my camera totally not expecting it to come so fast and yeah, I may have missed that shot on film because I was gaping at it so hard in real life! To make it all that much better, we did it again with 10:19 on the board, this time shoveled in by Brandon Holt (#5) with assists from both Keegan Langefels (#4) and Philip Ekberg (#9). To be honest, I think we scared the shit out of the opposing team. It was already pretty hot hockey out there but it moved from simmering to boil pretty quickly after that. The Kenai River Brown Bears sank one in with 9:14 on the clock, Zach Krajnik (#24) with an assist from Logan Ritchie (#7) doing the honors.
I think there was a red hot moment there where everyone was worried it’d get all tied up before the first period was over but then we decided another goal sounded fantastic and Connor Kemp (#55) performed this particular feat, assisted by Brandon Holt (#5). The Brown Bears put another past us at 4:42, this time Logan Ritchie (#7) with an assist from Zach Krajnik (#24) (did they decide to switch it up or what lol).
Our first period ended 3:2 with us in the lead and another pretty incredible feat happened. For the second game in a row, we chased a starting goalie from their net. The Brown Bears yanked Landon Pavlisin (#1) and put in Danny Fraga (#31). Last game we somehow got Amarillo to pull their star goalie, Charlie Glockner, much to my shock. So I’m now considering it an honor to our team when someone pulls their goalie after we pummel them with shots on goal. Can we make it a trend? How many goalies can the Ice Wolves chase off on opposing teams? Here we are y’all, that team we’ve been waiting for. Let’s keep it consistent and scare the pants off the other teams, shall we?
Second period started just as hard as the first and we kept the pressure on in a steady way. It was glorious to see and I thank the door monitoring dude because he let me squish myself in the corner and take some photos of the game right up against the Plexi, which means I could mostly avoid the scratches and marks that flavor my usual photos.
At 7:07 we scored yet another goal, this one slammed in by Spencer Rudrud (#7), assisted by Logan Martinson (#22), putting us 4:2 which was just… holy shit, is what! We had a packed house and the crowd was a steady background noise the whole evening, people talking about the game, people doing what I was (enthusiastically encouragingly yelling). People sitting in non-quiet awe, basically. Yeah, good times.
Later in the second period we ended up with a penalty shot with 1:58 on the clock. Interference on a breakaway was called against the Kenai River Brown Bears (I believe the opposing player hooked our guy causing this call). I’ve never been to a game where a penalty shot was given so that was a completely new experience to see in person. I’ve seen it on TV for the NHL but never for NAHL level. Philip Ekberg (#9) made the best of it, forced Fraga (#31) to make the first move, and slid it in the left side of the net, bumping our score up to 5:2.
While the third period was a tiny bit more subdued to start with, it heated up quickly. More hits, more terror (I suspect) from the Brown Bears. It all proved entirely fruitless. Alex Dominique (#21) scored us another goal with 6:15 left in the period, sealing our fate with 6:2 in our favor. No matter how desperate the Brown Bears managed to get, we kept them out. Even when we were sometimes down to 3 men on the ice and them with 4 or 5. Now that’s the power play kill team we’ve been looking for!
They put 35 shots on our goal and we put 57 on theirs, a record high for us. It’s not the only thing we beat tonight. We finally kicked the Odessa Jackalopes out of 6th place and stomped them down to 7th in the South Division. No longer at the bottom, we’re looking stronger than ever. I’m so proud.
In other somewhat related news, it appears the Jackalopes fired their coach and replaced him as of yesterday. Head coach and General Manager Todd Watson is gone and assistant coach Adam Phillips is taking over until a new head coach is found. (New GM is apparently Tim Christian.) I strongly suspect it has a lot to do with how far down in the league they are and how many games they’ve lost recently. From the perspective of a hockey fan, I feel bad for the team and hope they find someone who can work with them and make them even better in the long run. From the perspective of an Ice Wolves fan… well… if I can be twelve for a moment and stick my tongue out, HA we are no longer 7th! (I can be nice and twelve at the same time… right?)
I’m thrilled for tonight, where I get to show two friends who’ve never been what this game is all about. C’mon boys, let’s stomp them again so I can stand there and smirk at my skeptical friends when it’s all said and done!