Saturday, September 08, 2007

Team Wisconsin Major Game Report

I swung the DPlaya-mobile down to the Kohl Center this morning to take in Team Wisconsin Major's first game in the Upper Midwest High School Elite League. Team Wisconsin was able to notch their first win of the season by a score of 4-3 over Team Northeast. Scouts in attendance included Scott Sandelin from UMD, St. Cloud State, Air Force and the Green Bay Gamblers.

My one chance to watch Team Wisconsin last season led me to want to rename the Upper Midwest High School Elite League the Upper Midwest High School Penalty Killing League. This year it was a little bit better in terms of fewer penalties called, but there still were enough penalties that by far more of the game was played with someone in the penalty box than without anyone in the penalty box, and there were plenty of 5 on 3's. The "three penalties and you're done for the game rule" claimed Kyle Walbrun from Team Wisconsin with over 15 minutes left in the second period. I bet his parents were thrilled to have driven two hours each way so he could play 25 minutes of hockey, which was almost entirely spent on the bench or in the penalty box.

Team Wisconsin was without Trent Frey and Andy Singerhouse, and I believe Nick Widing was hurt in the first period and did not return. Add in the loss of Walbrun and they were pretty shorthanded up front. The defensive pairs were Smith and Behrend, Drake and Burke, and Donellan and Sorenson.

Here's some player notes for Team Wisconsin:

F-Seth Soley-skates well, quick wrister, can get his shot off with the puck in any position (his wheelhouse is anywhere his stick touches the puck). He is fantastic at catching passes, and played very physical without taking a lot of penalties (he had one penalty that I remember). I think the right word to describe him is explosive. On the negative side his aggressiveness on offense during the penalty kill was overdone at times, although he did assist on a short-handed goal in the game.

F-Nate Condon-Very good shot, backchecked hard throughout, was good with puck along boards in one on one battles. He did have a bad giveaway on a power play and could have been more physical at times. Team Northeast's 3rd goal was entirely his fault as he got "walked" by Team Northeast's center on a faceoff in the Team Wisconsin end. Scored a shorthander for Team Wisconsin on their third goal, with Soley assisting.

F-Jeff Costello-I had never seen him play, and he was a very pleasant surprise. I would label him a playmaker. He is very quick on his skates. He made a phenomenal pass to Matt Millis on the back door for the first goal, and I was impressed with his passing throughout the game. He consistently played on a line with Matt Millis and Cody Strang, and they had great chemistry. He also was credited with an assist on the last goal by Ted Behrend.

F-Matt Millis-Did a nice job on the penalty kill. Missed a golden chance on the back door at one point because he stopped the puck rather than shoot a one-timer. Scored the first goal of the game on a nice pass from Costello.

F-Cody Strang-Had the 2nd assist on the first goal and scored the second goal unassisted. Needs to work on his speed.

F-Nick Widing-I think he was injured in the first period, and never really got to see him play.

F-Kyle Walbrun-After taking a penalty in the first period he left the box and committed another penalty within twenty seconds. He took his third penalty 4:32 into the second period which meant he was done for the game.

F-Charlie Strauss-He wins the best hair award. He had a "flowing mane" of hair out the back of his helmet which made him easy to spot. He worked hard and was good on the backcheck.

F-Kyle Popovics-One of those players that never distinguished themselves with much positive or negative. Did not play a whole lot of shifts.

F-Brett Bower-Did not play a lot of shifts. I tried to "key in" on him when I realized I didn't have anything written about him, but he never gave me anything to write about.

D-Cameron Johnson-He played some shifts at forward and he was obviously uncomfortable and unsure of where he should be. At one point they played him a few shifts at defense in the second period, and he did not look good there either. Eventually they just moved him back to forward. In his defense, he started the game out of position and never seemed to get comfortable.

D-Ted Behrend-Solid defenseman that got the job done. Scored the fourth goal when the puck squirted from the net out toward the blue line which he was able to bury on a one-timer.

D-Jeff Burke-Looked pretty good on the penalty kill. Could use more footspeed. Great size. Did a nice job on several 1 on 1's.

D-David Donnellan-Very good shot blocker. Made some poor decisions at times and had some potentially costly turnovers.

D-Chase Drake-Was solid through most of the game, but a bad turnover on his part allowed Team NE to score their second goal. He got caught playing with the puck at one point and got lit up badly in open ice by Matt Johnson from Stillwater.

D-Tim Smith-Another player I would label "very solid". He didn't jump out at me really in any areas, but I never saw him get beat.

D-Tyler Sorenson-Played a mistake free game.

G-Andrew Martin-Played a great game. He stopped everything he should have, and maybe one or two he wouldn't have been blamed for if they went in. The first goal he allowed was in the second period on a 3-0! All 5 Team Wisconsin skaters changed lines at the same time, leaving him no chance. The second goal was on a turnover by defenseman Chase Drake, and he was completely screened. On the third goal Nate Condon got walked off the faceoff. I think Martin made the initial save but there was a scrum and the puck eventually went in.

With all the penalties and injuries, the only real consistent line was Strang, Millis and Costello. It seemed that Condon and Soley started on separate lines, but then ended up together after the Widing injury and Walbrun's game ending early. Team Wisconsin primarily played two forward lines, and spotted in a third. I would say their quality depth was an issue in this game. Their third line seemed to take a penalty every time they were on the ice. Hopefully with a full roster they can at least have two very good forward lines and two others that can at least hold their own.

Team Wisconsin Goal Recap:

#1-Power Play goal by Millis from Costello and Strang

#2-Strang unassisted

#3-Shorthanded by Condon from Soley

#4-Power Play goal by Behrend assisted by Costello