Thursday, December 28, 2006

IceDiggers fall to Sweden in shootout

From the Alpena News and author Steve Schulwitz

With two-minutes left in the Alpena IceDiggers contest it appeared the home team was about to claim an exhibition win.

But the Sweden Under-17 team pulled off a late rally to earn a hard-fought 5-4 win in a shootout at Northern Light Arena on Wednesday.

With 1:54 remaining on the clock and the IceDiggers leading 4-3, Alpena's Taylor Doorlag was whistled for a hooking call and sent to the penalty box for the rest of regulation. The Swedes called a time out with 51 seconds left in the contest and scored the game-tying goal with 27.7 seconds left to force overtime. The five-minute segment expired without a goal forcing the shootout.

After a miss by each team, the Swedish squad scored on its second attempt by Victor Hedman. Brett Kaneshiro's shot failed to connect on Alpena's next chance.

David Rundblad was next to face IceDiggers' goalie Mike Jarboe and appeared to have been stopped, but after a brief meeting amongst the officials, Rundblad was awarded a second attempt. On his first attempt he began up ice before the referee had blown the whistle to begin play, making the first shot null. As luck would have it, Rundbalnd scored on his mulligan and it proved to be the game-winner.

"The boys played really well after such a long layoff," Alpena coach Kenny Miller said after the contest.

The IceDiggers' special teams carried them in the first period, as they scored on a power play goal by Justin Stadler with 13:28 remaining in the first period. Erik Peterson and Chris Hendrickson were awarded assists on the play. Alpena's penalty-killing unit came through in the opening period also, as it killed off three Sweden man-advantages. The IceDiggers clung to a 1-0 lead as the buzzer sounded after the game's first 20 minutes.

The fireworks started early in the second segment, as the visitors knotted the contest 1-1 with an even-strength goal 2:50 into the frame and claimed a 2-1 lead less than two minutes later on a power play goal. Kenny Brandt evened the contest with 14:14 remaining in the second period on a goal that was assisted by Chris Hendrickson and Evan West. Jarboe was penalized for delay of game later in the second period and Sweden made Alpena pay, as it scored five seconds into the power play to pull ahead 3-2.

Brent Kaneshiro knotted it at 3-3 with under nine minutes left in the period on a goal that was set up by Mike DeGrazia and Justin Stadler. Marco Ruggeri scored early in the third period on a nifty two-on-one break with Eric Roman, who picked up the helper.

The home team couldn't make the lead stand, as it surrendered the tying goal and the eventual game winner in the shootout. Jarboe made several key saves in the final seconds of overtime, including a nifty backhanded glove save that helped the IceDiggers force the shootout.

Alpena returns to battle on New Year's Eve at Northern Lights Arena when it duels the Traverse City North Stars.

No comments: