Diablos Melt the Snow Leopards
Sunday, January, 20, 2008.
Maplewood, MN. The stars were aligned for an upset with the second regular season meeting of the AHA D1 Diablos and the Ak Bars at Aldrich Arena in Maplewood Sunday night. The Ak Bars, Russian for Snow Leopards, had hit a skid after a strong start with two ties in their last four games and only just squeaked out a win over the Muskies D1 in their last game. The Diablos were rolling on a five game winning streak and had finally solved their nemesis the Nemesis two weeks ago. The Ak Bars had owned the Diablos with wins in the preseason and regular season and had outscored the team from hell 6-1 in the two games. The Diablos brought their A team and played a strong game to beat the Ak Bars 4-2 and earn a share of first place with the Ak Bars and Nemesis in a tightly contested D1 Western Division.
The Diablos opened the scoring in the middle of the first period when the line of C Ted Reiff, RW Ryan Carroll and LW John Blasingame broke the puck out of their zone and started an odd man rush into Ak Bar territory. Reiff took a pass from Carroll and buried it at 8:33 for the Diablos' first regular season goal against the Ak Bars behemoth goalie Trey Cain. The Ak Bars returned the favor at 3:21 of the period on the power play when winger Drew Jahr shot one past Diablos goalie Justin Alderink for his first goal of the season. Ak Bar standout J. Anderson and captain Larry Curtis picked up assists on the play. The Diablos took three minor penalties in the period but held the Ak Bars to just one power play goal.
The second period belonged to the Diablos despite having to kill off two more minor penalties. At 6:18 of the period LW Jarick Losey proved "that you should always put the puck on the net because good things can happen" when he flipped a shot from the corner toward the front of the net. The puck ricocheted off an Ak Bars defender and beat the Ak Bars' goalie for the Diablos' second goal of the game and a lead they would not give up again. No assists were awarded on the play, but C Dave Christenson and RW Monique Lindquist were instrumental in keeping the puck in the zone for Losey's shot. The eventual game winner came at 3:34 of the period when C Steve
Nelson broke out of his scoring funk and tipped in a D Andy Claypool shot from the blue line. Nelson's line of wingers Dean Groth and John Driscoll was the energy line all night and it was nice to see them rewarded.
The third period dissolved into a parade to the box for both teams with the Diablos taking five minor penalties and the Ak Bars three. The Diablos opened the scoring at 14:53 of the period when D Pieter VanZyl wristed a shot on goal from the left point that hit Blasingame in the seat of the pants as he screened the Ak Bars' goalie. Blasingame recovered his senses quickly and passed the puck across the crease to a waiting Reiff who buried it for Diablos fourth and final goal. The Ak Bars had a prime chance to get themselves back into the game at 14:09 when they went on a five on three power play and then a five on four, but they failed to convert.
Things were chippy at the end after the Ak Bars scored again to claw within two. At 5:59 of the third the Ak Bars' Anderson snuck another one past Alderink with assists from Curtis and Jahr. At 3:37 the Ak Bars' Trevor Tjelmelund, the team's second leading scorer behind Anderson, tried to pick a fight with Diablos' D "Big" Andy Suerth. Tjelmelund was frustrated because Suerth had shut him and the Ak Bars out all night with strong play and great positioning. As Tjelmelund's teammates and the referees rescued Tjelmelund, the Ak Bars' Pavel Zakharov tried to start something with Alderink.
Apparently the Ak Bars were not comfortable with being on the losing end of a game. Offsetting penalties were handed out and no damage was done. The Ak Bars had a last chance when they went back on the power play at 00:27 of the period. They pulled the goalie, but even at 6 on 4 couldn't beat Alderink. The best chance of the final flurry came when Reiff sent a shot on goal from his own end toward the empty net. An Ak Bar defender hustled back and just made the save to keep Reiff from his hat trick.
The Diablos got contributions from all four lines and offensive help from the defense to win an all round solid game. One goal came on a rush, one from hard work in the corner and two from shots from the blue line and hard work out front. Defensemen Suerth, Claypool, VanZyl, Captain Todd Ewing, and Mike Monroe played very well all game and phenomenally on the PK. C Peter
Sinesio's line with wingers Mat Lindquist and Rocco Bonello, while they didn't score this game, was solid and took the game to the Ak Bars all night. The only blemish on the night was the ten penalties assessed the Diablos, but penalty killers Reiff, Driscoll, Sinesio, Groth and Nelson, along with the defense, were up to the task. Shots on goal: Ak Bars 7-1-11 for 20, Diablos 8-6-6 for 20.
Both teams no doubt look forward to their final meeting on 03-08-08 in a game that could decide the season.
The Ice Gators back at Aldrich Arena on Wednesday 01-30-08 at 10:05pm. Official AHA Scoresheet. - JB