Scoring the overtime winner certainly made the Force’s Willie Corrin (Minnesota-Duluth) a popular man, but he wasn’t the only defenseman showing what he could do on the offensive end.
First-year defenseman Neal Goff anchored a line with Nate Arentz and Jonny Brodzinski (St. Cloud State), giving the Force a shutdown line which certainly did its job in the team’s 2-1 win over Sioux City on Monday.
Goff hopes his line can replicate what it did on Monday in the hopes of closing out the series tonight at 7:05 p.m. The Force hold a 1-0 lead in a best-of-three series.
“I thought our line played really well and our line had some (scoring) chances,” Goff said. “I am getting the hang of forward to where I am totally comfortable up there. The first couple of games its hard to get your grips being a defenseman. I felt I contributed both ways and I plan on doing that in the rest of the playoffs.”
Goff won the “Play with Nate Arentz and Jonny Brodzinski” Sweepstakes after Force coach John Marks said he was going to use Sunday to figure out who’d be the best fit on the line.
Goff actually played with Arentz and Brodzinski on Mar. 31 in a 3-0 loss at Sioux City. Even in the loss, the line did not give up a goal going even in plus/minus ratio.
Marks chose Goff from a list which included forwards Jordan Nelson, Stanislav Dzakhov and Pavel Zykov. Nelson dressed and was on the sparingly-used fourth line while Dzakhov and Zykov watched the game in the stands.
“I was really excited,” Goff said about playing on the team’s third line. “I played with them for a few games prior to tonight and we work well together.”
Goff’s role on the line was to serve in what Brodzinski described as a “high-low” role.
Picture an inverted pyramid where Arentz is on the left, Brodzinski is on the right and Goff is in the center, or in this case, the slot, which is about five to 10 feet in front of the net. The scheme allows Arentz and Brodzinski to work in the corners to dig for the puck.
When they do get the puck it sets up what could be a point-blank opportunity for Goff. But in case it doesn’t, it allows Goff to quickly skate back on defense giving the Force a three-man wall to prevent or at least slow down any odd-man rushes.
“He was like a third defenseman out there,” Brodzinski said. “But he was also a forward at the same time. He was the third guy high as me and Nate just battled in the corners. The goal was to just keep him floating out high so we could feed him the puck.”
The 6-4, 180-pound Goff said he was pleased with his performance but there were some things he’d like to refine coming into tonight’s game.
Goff said offense was the aspect of his game he wanted to improve the most.
He didn’t register any shots on net, according to the stats. He attributed that to having his head down instead of keeping his head up and looking for a spot to expose on Musketeers’ goaltender Matt Skoff (Penn State), who made 36 saves in the loss.
“I think sometimes, I am a little quick to shoot it,” Goff said. “And maybe pick my head up too. Overall, I think we played pretty well and we just have to keep rolling.”