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PGS S52 Game 129: Anchorage Armada vs Newfoundland Berserkers

Game 129: Anchorage Armada 3 vs Newfoundland Berserkers 5
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Pregame Notes 
  • Head-to-Head: Anchorage had the lead on the series coming into this game with a 2-0 record, though it required a shootout win the first time and was able to sneak by in overtime for the second win. 
  • Players to Watch: Armada LW Daniel Bischoff (2GP: 2G, 2A, 4P, 12 Shots)  Berserkers LW Steve Harrington (2GP: 1G, 2A, 3P,  3 Shots)
  • Bad Blood: Last game had a total of 50 penalty minutes, 2 fights and 1 ejection between both teams. Will they be able to play with a short memory or do they have posterboard material from last time?
1st Period
The start of the game had the Armada trying to carry their momentum over from the last couple games, immediately winning faceoffs and spending time in the Berserker's zone. Unfortunately that would be the most time they would end up being able to hold onto the puck as they only managed 4 shots all period, roughly one every five minutes leaving Newfoundland Berserker's goalie Ryan Aaron searching for ways to keep focus. On the other side of the rink, goaltender Sergei Potvinov faced a barrage of shots with few periods of rest, eventually surrendering the first goal near the end of the first with 1 minute and 9 seconds left. Armada's Augustus Wang takes a hit from Newfoundland's Patric Twist, resulting in 3 immediate shots towards the net where Twist takes the final one finds his aim is true with Berserkers leading 1-0. 

2nd Period 
Berserker's domination through this game on the shot clock did not stop as they continued to pour it on through the 2nd and scored a 2nd midway through. After the end of 40 minutes, the Armada had allowed 34 shots while only taking 11 of their own on net. Their troubles didn't end their as they also took an additional 2 penalties on top of the 3 already taken in the first period. Despite all the troubles they found themselves through out the first two periods, the scoreboard was the only place that mattered and they found themselves tying it with 2 goals scored in the last 5 minutes of the period with contributions from Mitchell van der Heijden (with an assist from Daniel Bischoff and Jay Reeves) and Bischoff himself with Ulrik Bergstrom and Augustus Wang with helpers. 

3rd Period
With the game all tied up at 2, the Berserkers found themselves  unwilling to back down and came out gunning early in the 3rd. Steve Harrington matched Bischoff's performance with a goal at 4:13 to break the tie. Fellow rookie Mattias Birdstrom netted his 2nd of the year with an assist from another rookie, Johnny Patey and Jakob Hamr rounding out the 4-2 goal. The Armada were able to pull within one by finding one more goal from Vladimir Khristorozhdestvensk (I never want to do an Anchorage game recap again if he scores) with assists from Bischoff and Blue. Newfoundland however found the dagger to the heart with none other than Steve Harrington finding the empty net goal to close things out and put the head to head match with the Berserkers winning the latest bout. 

3 Stars
  1. Berserkers Steve Harrington 2G, 1A, 3P, 3 Shots
  2. Berserkers Vince Chalut 8 Shots
  3. Armada Daniel Bischoff 1G, 2A, 3P 7 Shots

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Comment 1: Anchorage's porous team defense and undisciplined play costing team

In their earlier game of the week against the Anaheim Outlaws, the Armada gave up 44 shots on goalie Ian Venables, including 18 in the third period, and blew a 3-1 lead to lose 4-3. This game was more of the same, as backup goalie Sergei Potvinov was pelted with 47 shots, with 15 of those coming in the third period, and the team lost 5-3 (with an empty-netter). Anchorage already allows the most shots in the SMJHL this year, and it makes the system very difficult on their goalies. Another major factor was special teams, as the Armada took six penalties from six different players. While they managed to kill off all of those penalties, the team gave up a staggering 18 shots in five-on-four play. For comparison, the Armada had 22 shots for the whole game. Potvinov was brilliant in this game with 44 saves, but that many chances will take a toll on the goalie. As well, six Armada players - Augustus Wang, Berry Blue, Daniel Bischoff, Jay Reeves, Mitchell van der Heijden, and Ulrik Bergstrom - all played around or above five minutes on the penalty kill, which is incredibly tiring especially when you consider that these are some of Anchorage's best players that are out there on special teams.

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Sig credits to @Carpy48 and @Nokazoa

Coming into the game:
Coming into the game, this was unfortunately a battle of two bottom placed teams. Anchorage came into the game with 39 points on the season, putting them in 9th place in the league, while the Berserkers fared just slightly better with 41 points, good for 8th place. Despite their place closer to the bottom of the league, Newfoundland was coming into this game hot, winning their last 3 games as well as getting the victory in 5 of their last 6. On the exact opposite end of the spectrum, Anchorage had lost 3 straight entering this match-up, and had only won 2 of their last 6. While the recent game results might suggest Newfoundland was the favorite in this game, Anchorage has the 2-0 series lead on them this year, evening out the odds.

Rookies on fire:
Throughout the season, Newfoundland has gotten amazing play out of veterans such as Dayduie, Okabe, Vanice and Cody. However in this game, the Berserkers rookies really stepped up to help bring home the victory. Leading the way specifically was Steve Harrington and Vince Chalut. Harrington had a hell of a game with 2 goals and 1 assist, including the dagger goal that put the Berserkers up by 2, while Chalut was the definition of a selfless playmaker, assisting on 3 goals throughout the game. Additionally, Newfoundland rookies Patric Twist and Mattias Birdstrom both had a goal each as well, with the later scoring what would be the eventual game winner. 

Not-so-special teams
Newfoundland has found great success with their powerplay units this year, notching a 23.8% scoring rate on the powerplay, good for second in the league. But this game was an exception. The Armada played a very undisciplined game, going to the box for a total of 6 penalties compared to Newfoundland's 0. But the Berserker's wouldn't capitalize a single time, going 0-6 with the man advantage. Despite coming away with the victory tonight, the shocking shortcomings of Newfoundland's powerplay could be a cause for concern for future games. Newfoundland did end up dominating the even strength game, and out-shot Anchorage by more than double the shots on goal, but for a team that's gotten the edge on the powerplay throughout the year, this game was quite the anomaly. Newfoundland will want to find their groove on the powerplay again to keep giving themselves a better to win games down the stretch and finish the season strong.

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Sigs: Thanks JNH, NeonLime, Carpy, and ckroyal92 

Comment 1: Shooting Stars.
This game came down to who had more resilience to sling pucks at the net-minders. The teams had two distinct strategies when it came to shipping rubber. The Anchorage Armada preferred to filter it up to their stars Mitchell van der Heijden and Daniel Bischoff, who put away goals 12 and 15 of the season respectively. The Newfoundland Berserkers figured it was a numbers games and so had a total of 47 shots on goal with 9 different players on the team posting at least 3 shots. Top three shooters for the berserkers this match are: Thomas Vanice (8), Cody (8), and Rintarou Okabe(7).

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