Monday, October 29, 2007


Well, it's nice to be able to be critical of a couple games when you've just swept a highly ranked national opponent in Colorado College.

The Tigers came into Towse Rink and played some great hockey and really looked like they left it all on the ice. They should be called the Flying Tigers with the speed that they showed on the ice this weekend. Aside from a couple players the Tigers were consummate sportsmen (neglecting the perceived slight when they failed to shake hands after the first game as they were merely following normal WCHA protocol) and while the penalties on the weekend were nearly even the Tigers seemed to commit far fewer offenses than did our 'Cats and when they did, the penalties were often drawn by the hard work of a couple of our Wildcats.

So, how 'bout them 'Cats.

Number one criticism - effort. The lackluster effort and play of the first period of the first three games of the year is totally unacceptable. In three games, out of thirteen goals scored, we have exactly ONE first period goal. Second period goals, THREE. And that's right, NINE third period goals - three in each game thus far. Now it is nice to see that we are beating teams by working progressively harder through the game but it should not come at the expense of poor play early on. I think this factor, that our team is outlasting the competition, speaks volumes to the early conditioning of this team which undoubtedly extends from our extremely fit, point leading Captain, Matt Fornataro. Regardless of the fact that our guys have beaten good opponents thus far it will bite us in the future if, no when, they run up against an equally fit team that puts in a sixty minute effort.

Number two - special teams. This goes hand-in-hand with number one in that a lack of effort most often leads to a special teams situation. At best our special teams have been weak. It is obviously an area that they will work on and improve but it should just reinforce the emphasis on effort - especially skating and reducing stick work to the body. I noticed an interesting feature to these two games - that the more experienced guys, our upperclassmen, were called most often for this obstruction penalty. The main difference that I noted was that our younger players are already used to this emphasis from their junior leagues and they tend to use their sticks like a limp noodle as compared to an ax or a shepherd's crook. When you factor in the penalty the limp noodle approach was much more effective and it actually works to legally disrupt the puck carrier. Hopefully you can teach an old 'Cat some new tricks because it seems like these youngsters have a number of them. And that brings me to point three.

Number three - scoring chances. Quite simply our men were not getting to the prime scoring areas. In stark contrast to this was the first career goal (which showed that there will be many more) of Paul Thompson! As I mentioned from my live-blogging of the game, Paul seemed very Hemingway-esque in that he found a weak back door on the right post and banged in the near perfect Dan Dries pass - for Dan's first point as well! The only other player to have created or found any space in front was Matt Fornataro, who collected the brilliantly redirected puck off of James vanRiemsdyk's skate, all alone in the paint of all places! (there is almost no chance that James did not mean to redirect that puck as it caromed off of the back boards from the wide Flaishans' shot, the puck coming off of James' angled skate almost right to tape of the wide open Fornataro, behind the recovering Bachman) But! It was on the powerplay. So, get open in the high-percentage scoring areas and remember that when the play turns to offense it is all about putting the puck in the back of the net.

Synopsis: Effort, Special Teams, High-Percentage scoring areas

If our 'Cats buckle down in these areas and execute they will be unstoppable.

Player of the Week - easily, Matt Fornataro

Rookie of the Week - Paul Thompson - I was very impressed with Paul's play and you can see him quickly adapting. He skated well and learned to get the puck to the net quickly already and was excellent in using his body for physical play throwing a number of great finishing checks.

Unspoken Hero - Jerry Pollastrone - really proved his effectiveness over the weekend when many had doubts - I never did.

Great job team.

Overall a lot of great play throughout the line-up. When these guys are full out it is just a joy to watch. If they give us sixty minutes the Whitt will be pumping at mega-watt levels as these boys can really electrify the crowd.

Go 'Cats!


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