Metro State club hockey had many chances to score and did, while the Northern Arizona Ice Jacks had many reasons to quit, but didn’t, in the Roadrunners’ 7-4 win at the Edge Ice Arena in Littleton Nov. 6.
The game turned out to be closer than the scoreboard indicated.
The Roadrunners went up 1-0 just 14 seconds in off a shot from the left point by Christian Manning which the Ice Jacks goalie Seth Kollman didn’t see coming.
Just over two minutes later, defenseman Matt Winkle’s shot from the right point pulled Kollman from the net and the Roadbirds took a 2-0 lead.
Kollman’s replacement, Jaxson Gosnell, didn’t fare any better. A breakaway by Metro’s Travis Battista at 11:49, a point-blank shot by C.J. Miller at 10:45 and a short-handed rush by Shane Doerfler at 19:30 left the score at 5-0 and the Ice Jacks in shock as the first period ended.
But the Ice Jacks didn’t take a bus all the way from Flagstaff to give up, and they came angry in the second period, creating chances and odd-man rushes. Both teams, rivals in the American Collegiate Hockey Association’s Pacific Division, turned up the physical play and traded power play chances as the period went on.
“We played our brand of hockey the first 20 minutes,” said Metro State defenseman Brady Reynolds. “We came out of the locker room for the second a bit too casual. We let (them) creep back into the game.”
Overlapping penalties to both teams created a back-and-forth minute of 4-on-4 play midway through the period, but it wasn’t until the 15:00 mark that Metro’s Taylor Porrier scored on a perfect wrist shot and the Roadrunners increased their lead to 6-1.
The Ice Jacks kept pushing back, and just 32 seconds after Porrier’s goal, NAU’s Chris Barrett made the score 6-3.
What the first two periods had in scoring chances and north-south action, the third period had in chippiness and penalties. There weren’t many shots on goal, but no player from either team missed a chance to throw a check.
“Northern Arizona has always played us tough,” Reynolds said. “You take your hits and you throw a few back. Personally, I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
The Ice Jacks came out hard again in the third period and were rewarded with a power play goal early. But the Roadbirds answered and after all of the pushing and shoving, Metro kept the three-goal lead.
As good as they were Friday, Reynolds knows the Roadrunners need to be even more dominating to reach their goal for the season.
“Our goal this year is to win a national championship,” he said, “and we can’t do that allowing good teams to hang around.”