In what was an entertaining 2015 CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game, Team Plante scored two late goals to secure a 6-4 victory over Team Roenick in a seesaw affair.
Team Roenick, coached by current NBC game analyst Jeremy Roenick, had the advantage in play and on the scoreboard for much of the first half of the game. But Team Plante, with former Buffalo Sabres forward Derek Plante at the helm, hung around long enough to capitalize on a late power play to seal the win.
As would be expected, play in the early going was scrambled, with players from both teams getting used to one another. But the Team Roenick line combination of Luke Kunin centering Matthew Tkachuk and Joey Anderson seemed to catch fire the quickest, and was the most effective line over the course of the first period and for much of the game.
The duo of Kunin and Tkachuk didn’t waste any time in getting Roenick on the board, taking advantage of a turnover by Plante at center ice and heading the other way on a 2-on-1. Tkachuk fed a pass to Kunin, who in turn beat Plante starter Evan Sarthou to give Roenick the 1-0 lead. Joey Anderson also registered an assist on the goal, which came 10 seconds into the first.
A little over four minutes later, Team Plante tied the game. On a break into the Roenick end, Plante forward Max Jones put home a pass to from William Knierim on the doorstep of Team Roenick starter Tyler Parsons to make it 1-1. Logan Brown also picked up an assist on the play, with the goal coming at 4:16 of the first.
“I just got the puck in the D-zone, skated up ice and I saw Knierim going,” said Jones of his goal. “So I head-manned him the puck and then, like any other guy would do, (I went) straight to the net, and I was thankful to get the puck back from him. So, all credit to him”
Shortly after Team Plante’s goal, Team Roenick starting goaltender Parsons took a shot to the collarbone area, knocking him out of the game. Goaltender Stephen Dhillon entered the game and played the rest of the way.
Team Roenick would take back the lead just before the midway point of the first. After some good pressure in the Plante zone, defenseman Michael Campoli directed a shot from the left point towards Sarthou that was deflected by forward Tim Gettinger past Sarthou to give Team Roenick a 2-1 lead. William Lockwood also picked up an assist on the goal, which came at 9:59 of the first.
“The draw was won and I threw it back to the point, then (Campoli) shot it, and I just got a good touch on it and it went in,” said Gettinger of his go-ahead goal.
Just past the 10-minute mark of the first, Team Roenick began to take over play. But Team Plante goaltender Evan Sarthou was equal to the task, making several tough stops, including fine saves off a spin-around shot by Roenick’s Matt Filipe and a doorstep stop on Gettinger.
The first period ended with that same 2-1 score. Shots on goal favored Team Roenick, 15-8.
The second period very nearly began the same way the first frame began, with Luke Kunin quickly getting a scoring opportunity on Sarthou off a break, but the Team Plante goaltender was equal to the task.
The duo of Tkachuk and Kunin nearly worked their magic a little later in the second, with Kunin taking a pass from Tkachuk on the doorstep, but Sarthou once again turned that opportunity away.
Near the midpoint of the second period, Team Plante finally put some sustained pressure on Team Roenick. The hard work paid off, with defenseman J.D. Greenway bringing the puck down the left wall and firing a pass to Trent Frederic, who in turn fired a one-timer past Dhillon to tie the game at two apiece. Defenseman Mitch Eliot picked up the other assist on the goal, which was scored at 10:26.
Frederic’s goal was the start of a four-goal scoring spree by both teams, including three goals in a 39-second span.
Team Plante notched the next one to take a brief lead. Plante forward William Knierim fed a pass to linemate Logan Brown, who fired a one-timer past Dhillon to give Plante a 3-2 lead. Defenseman Ryan Lindgren also received an assist on the goal, which was scored at 15:11 of the second.
Brown and his teammates barely had time to celebrate their first lead of the game, however, as just 29 seconds later, the trio of Tkachuk, Kunin, and Anderson knotted the game. The Team Roenick line moved the puck into the Plante zone off the ensuing faceoff, where Tkachuk took a shot that bounced back to him, then from his knees beat new Plante goaltender Ryan Edquist to even the game at three. Anderson and Kunin picked up the assists, with the goal coming at 15:40.
“I first shot it, then the rebound kicked right there, and I was fortunate enough that the goalie was a little out of position, and I just put it in,” Tkachuk said of his tying marker.
But that line wasn’t done as, after the ensuing faceoff, Kunin took a pass from Tkachuk, skated into the Plante zone and beat Edquist from the left circle to give Team Roenick back their one-goal advantage. Chad Krys also assisted on the goal, which came just 10 seconds after Tkachuk’s goal.
The second period ended with Team Roenick holding a 4-3 lead, and a 24-20 shot advantage.
The two teams played a mostly conservative style through the first 12 minutes of the third period, trading chances but failing to capitalize on them.
Then, just past the 13-minute mark, Team Plante moved the puck into the Team Roenick zone. Plante’s Max Jones ended up with the puck on his stick to the right of Dhillon, firing a bad-angle shot that managed to slip past the Roenick goaltender and into the net to tie the game at four. William Knierim and Luke McInnis picked up the assists on the goal, which came at 13:23 of the third.
“The second one, I don’t even know how it went in, honestly,” said Jones of his second goal. “I just kind of threw it at the net – I just got a nice pass from Knierim again, and kind of threw it in there.”
The teams continued their mostly cautious, back-and-forth play until, with a just over two minutes remaining, Team Roenick forward Riley Tufte took a tripping penalty which sent Team Plante to the power play.
Team Plante didn’t waste the opportunity, moving the puck around in the Roenick zone until it landed on defenseman Luke McInnis’s stick. McInnis moved to his right, then fired a shot from the slot that beat Dhillon, giving Plante the 5-4 lead. Defenseman Charlie McAvoy and forward Trent Frederic notched the assists, with the goal coming at 18:10.
“Great play, great play,” enthused Plante after the game. “Luke found a soft spot there, made a great shot, and McAvoy – he’s a heck of a player, wow! – he can skate and handle the puck, and it’s not surprising that he found (McInnis).”
With 1:01 remaining, Team Plante took a penalty of their own with defenseman Mitch Eliot heading to the box for holding.
Team Roenick pulled their goaltender to play with the two-man advantage, but just 22 seconds after Joey Anderson failed to convert on an opportunity, Plante’s Kieffer Bellows sealed the win for his team after shooting the puck from his own blue line into the empty net to secure the 6-4 win for Team Plante.
The shots on goal for the third period were tied at nine apiece, with Team Roenick holding the shot advantage for the game, 33-29.
Team Plante defenseman Luke McInnis, who picked up a goal and an assist in the third period, was named the Player of the Game. For his part, McInnis didn’t seem to be as impressed with his own performance as those that selected him as the game’s best player.
“I thought I performed okay, pretty good,” said McInnis. “Not unbelievable or anything. Defensively, I let a couple of things slide. I should have been more solid defensively, maybe watched a guy in the middle, or battled a little bit harder in the corners.”
Following the game, victorious coach Derek Plante talked about some of his charges that stood out to him in the win.
“DeBrincat, Keller, and Bellows, that was the line that really made some stuff happen,” said Plante. “I think the other line, with Brown, and Knierim made some great passes today, and Jones had a great day with his speed – it’s really, really good. I guess I didn’t know him as well as a player, and it was fun to see how he can just kind of create chaos on the rink, and fortunately a couple went in for him. But Knierim made some really nice passes, and you can see Logan Brown’s ability to see the ice and make plays and win some faceoffs. That line was really good.”
The coach on the losing side of the ledger, Jeremy Roenick, singled out a couple of players from his team as notable performers.
“On my squad, Kunin has amazing speed – that goal he scored on the first shift was pretty unbelievable,” said Roenick. “And Matthew Tkachuk probably impressed me the most. You talk about hockey sense, and knowing where the puck is, knowing where all the players are, making a lot of great plays. If some of the guys finished some of the plays that he made to them, he could have had four or five points. Extremely, extremely intelligent, and he had a goal and an assist, too. I’m not saying it because of bias of Keith, but he really was the most effective player on the ice for our team, I think, by a longshot.”
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