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Jackson era begins as Blue defeats Gold 3-2

Kyle Cassily | Monday, October 10, 2005

The game may have been labeled an intra-squad scrimmage, but the physical play and offensive flair produced an atmosphere more akin to a do-or-die battle with a league rival.

In the annual Blue-Gold game for the Irish hockey team, an evenly-distributed Blue team topped the Gold squad, 3-2, in a hotly-contested affair decided by a shootout. Regulation time ended with a 2-2 tie and the split Irish squads played their way through a scoreless sudden death overtime before reaching the deciding shootout.

Each side chose five men to head one-on-one down the ice against net minders Dave Brown and Rory Walsh, playing for Blue and Gold, respectively. Sophomore Evan Rankin wasted no time putting his Blue team up after converting on his squad’s first opportunity. Rankin deked left then right on Gold’s Walsh and slid the puck along the ice towards the right post, past a diving Walsh.

Blue’s Brown then stoned three consecutive Gold attackers with several stellar saves to preserve the lead. That left Blue’s Matt Amado to put the shootout out of reach for the Gold team, with a goal on the fourth series. Amado took the puck at center ice and picked his corner on Gold’s Walsh, putting the puck low on the left side for the 2-0 shootout victory, giving Blue the 3-2 victory.

“I thought the energy was good. I thought that we did some things really well,” Irish coach Jeff Jackson said of the overall game. “I know it’s novice stages for a team that’s really going through an entire transition, as far as the style of play. I think that they picked up quite a bit.”

The freshman provided the spark offensively for both teams to start the game. Gold freshman Garrett Regan got his team on the board first with a little over three minutes left in the first of two 25-minute periods. Regan buried the puck on a redirect in front of the net by sophomore Victor Oreshkovich. Senior winger Tim Wallace worked behind the scenes on the goal after digging the puck out of the left-hand corner to feed Oreshkovich in front.

Blue struck back with its own freshman with 30 seconds remaining in the period. Eric Condra roofed a rebound coming off goalie Jordan Pierce on a shot from fellow winger Mark Van Guilder.

The pair hooked up once again in the second period, only this time the roles were reversed. Condra worked the puck along the boards off of a Gold defender and sent a quick pass to an awaiting Van Guilder high in the slot. Van Guilder ripped a beauty of a one-timer past goaltender Walsh to put Blue up 2-1.

“We had some fun out there,” Condra said of playing with Van Guilder. “We read off each other, it just seemed like we clicked.”

Gold tied the game halfway through the second frame on the only power play converted for a goal in the game. Senior Tony Gill one-timed a pass from Christian Hanson into the top right corner of the net, while situated just outside the crease along the right post. The two teams failed to convert for another goal in the remaining twelve minutes nor during the five-minute overtime that ensued.

Coach Jackson viewed the game from the press box and left the coaching to assistants Paul Pooley, Blue squad, and Jim Montgomery, Gold squad.

“These guys are so new to me. The only time I’ve really seen them is on the ice in practice this week,” he said. “You see so much more systems stuff. We practiced some this week, and I wanted to see which guys grasped it, and which guys retained it. You also see their hockey intelligence, what decisions they make with the puck. You don’t always see that at ice-level.”

Both squads played the body with full force; teammates or not, the Irish held nothing back. The physical play led to 15.5 minutes for both teams in the penalty box, a total of 14 individual penalties. This allowed Coach Jackson to take a close look at his team’s skill on the penalty kill and power play. Jackson feels that he may consider several freshman for the crucial special teams lineups, an event he didn’t consider prior to the game.

“We were told to go hard, and it was like a real game,” Condra said. “We’re playing for spots still, so we’re going all out, hit, show what we can do.”

The Blue team out-shot Gold 31-22 in the two regulation periods and overtime. Walsh (22 saves) faced a majority of the Blue team’s onslaught, while Brown stopped seven shots and made four consecutive shootout saves. Pierce suited up for both squads and made a total of 20 saves.

Van Guilder was named MVP of the game by Coach Jackson for notching his second period goal and contributing on Condra’s tally.

“This coming week we are going to spend more time on the offensive side of the puck. I was pretty pleased based on working on defense,” Jackson said. “I know this team needs to work on scoring goals, but on a positive note we didn’t give up an odd-man rush. There was a partial breakaway early in the game, but really there was no odd man rushes other than that. For the most part, I think a lot of things were real positive.”