Photo Credit : Patrick Garriepy Photography
The Northeast Generals, despite being out of the playoff race, still had a lot to play for tonight against the Maryland Black Bears. Despite the 4-2 final stat line in the regulation loss, the team showed cohesion, and were an interesting call away from having a 3-3 tie heading into overtime against Maryland. There was a lot of good for this group that came in this game, as they dealt with adversity on two interesting calls, and still found a way to fight until the very end, losing 4-2 because of a late empty net power play goal they conceded.
That interesting call came late in the third period. The Generals appeared to have the equalizer, but the crew lead by referee Jake Muzik blew the play dead for potentially incidental contact. The ensuing faceoff was held in the offensive zone, not in the neutral zone where it should have been if incidental contact was the issue. After the officials went to discuss things, they upheld waving the goal off. Hannes Kollen, Maryland’s netminder was contacted, but Head Coach Bryan Erikson contends that happened after the puck cross the line, and is pretty upset at the crew of Muzik for this, and an incident where at the end of the first period, Hugo Haas, Northeast’s netminder was interfered with, no penalty was assessed to the Black Bear who did it, but in retaliation, Alex Tertyshny got a roughing minor.
On the no goal Erikson said ” Ref wouldn’t talk to me to tell me why it wasn’t a goal. Puck clearly went in and clearly went in before any type of contact was made with him by our player that was high sticked in the face. Just a terrible call and a gutless move by the ref to not talk to me about it. I didn’t yell once the entire game at least show me and your profession a little respect.”
On the Haas incident that ended the first period, Erikson said ” Once again ref wouldn’t talk to me. So I’m assuming we are just allowed to run goalies unless we score then it’s no goal.”
Besides that, on the whole, the Generals played a sound game and pushed the pace of play. They were spurred on by captain Dylan Schuett’s goal in the first. He took a superb feed from Jake Dunlap and put the puck home to bring the Generals within one goal. As Erikson said of Dylan’s improvement since comfiting to Long Island University back in December ” He has relaxed a little bit and it’s freed up his offensive game. The kid is battling so many injuries it’s crazy what he has to do just to even suit up. But then to go out there and play well and score a great goal on a ridiculous play by Dunlap is great.” Of the goal’s impact Erikson added ” Dylan’s goal seemed to give us a little extra jump same as David’s did. We have struggled scoring lately so it was great to get on the board and to remember how to just laugh and have fun.”
Going into the season finale tomorrow night, two things stood out. First, when we asked Erikson for any good off ice memory from his class of 2000 birth year players playing their final game of junior hockey tomorrow night, he couldn’t saying instead ” I can’t single any one kid out. I put some much time into the 2000’s and in return I get the best gift. I get to be apart of their journeys. I get to share inside jokes, laugh at them, with them, laugh at myself. We have so much fun and I am just so proud and honored to say that I coach this special group of kids.”
He went on in his message to the Generals ahead of the finale ” Just enjoy this. Enjoy the meals, the jokes, the boys. Have fun. You will remember this group forever so let’s just regroup and leave it on the ice tomorrow so we don’t have any regrets.”
Finally, he noted something that has become emblematic of this group, and what he looks for from them, and every team he coaches on tomorrow night. He said, “we just came out with more focus on playing as a team rather than as individuals. And that is always our key to success. No one player is better than the team. And I expect the same tomorrow.”
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