So last night’s Force-Musketeers game wasn’t exactly the most exciting game in the world.
Force defenseman Willie Corrin (Minnesota-Duluth) scored the game-winning goal in overtime giving Black and Blue a 1-0 series lead in a best-of-three campaign. With a win tonight, the Force could close out the series and get a few days rest before heading south to Lincoln for a best of five.
Or it is extremely possibly Sioux City could tie the series at 1, forcing a Game 3 on Wednesday.
Either scenario is possible so let’s take a look at what to watch for in Game 2:
On offense: The High School Musical Line – Gabe Guertler (Minnesota)-Alex Iafallo (Minnesota-Duluth)-Dave Gust – was about the sharpest line for either team in Monday’s game. All three were constantly attacking the net looking for a goal. Guertler got one in the first 20 seconds of the game. Look for them to continue that pace but also look for them to get some help too namely in the form of the FCC Line. Austin Farley (Minnesota-Duluth), Bryn Chyzyk (North Dakota) and Colton Hargrove (Western Michigan) had spurts last night where they looked good and at times, didn’t look so hot. Don’t be surprised if those three take a more aggressive approach.
On defense: A one-goal game could very well be in the cards. If so, then its up to the Force’s defense to make sure it keeps the net clear in front of Zane Gothberg (North Dakota). If you’re looking for a player to keep tabs on, look for Brian Cooper (Nebraska-Omaha), who is easily capable of destroying an opponent’s flow and creating an odd-man rush all in the same series.
On goaltending: Gothberg said after last night’s game he expects for there to be close games where offense is at a premium. Fair enough. Gothberg had moments where he didn’t face too much action but when he did, he was ready for it. His lone blemish was a rebound leading to a game-tying goal. Look for him to be more aware on second or even third-chance opportunities.
On offense: Offense hasn’t been kind to the Musketeers this season. They’re actually one of the teams who gave up more goals (189) in the regular season than they scored (181) already putting them in a hole. Facing Gothberg and a defense that ranks in the Top 3 in the league doesn’t help. Finding someone to replace David Goodwin (Penn State), who is out with an injury is key. Kyle Criscuolo (Harvard) has been a pest for the Force to deal with at times and he could be the guy to jumpstart an offense in severe need of goals.
On defense: Other than stopping The Musical, there really isn’t much else this defense could have done last night. Considering the Force will be in attack mode to close out the series, looking for Geoff Ferguson (Dartmouth). Ferguson is one of the better shutdown defensemen in this league and he could be one of the big reasons between a Force win or a Musketeers win.
On goaltending: Skoff was pretty upset with himself following the game last night. His main point was that he should have stopped Corrin’s game winner. But there were positives. He did say his defense did a really good job getting in front of net to block shots with their bodies. Another positive is knowing they can go a while with the Force. If Skoff can do what he did last night, he gives his team a fighting chance. But if he even gives up two goals, then it might be fair to say the Force advance.
Defense will be a priority but don’t be too shocked if both teams try to ramp it up a notch. After all, the Force are trying to close out a series while the Musketeers are looking to force a Game 3. When at their peak, these are both solid teams but in this case we’ll say Force win 3-1 with an empty-netter.