After the offensive onslaught on Friday night, today’s game was a much tighter affair. The first would be a physical feeling out process with the Wild getting two power plays before Jordan Maletta was tripped just 20 seconds before the break. Ivan Kulbakov was solid in net making eight saves including a beautiful diving save.
Early in the second, Maletta would make them pay for tripping him. Calvin Thurkauf skated into the zone and passed the puck to Justin Scott who dropped it to Maletta. The captain fired a shot to make it 1-0.
Seven plus minutes later Hayden Hodgson would make John Madden look like a genius for moving the player up in the line when he scored. Paul Bittner skated the puck in front and tried to backhand, but Hodgson picked up the rebound and on his second attempt, put it past the Wild’s goalie to make it 2-0.
Just under four minutes later Dante Salituro would score against his old teammates out of a scramble in front. Ivan Kulbakov would be perfect the rest of the way as the busier of the two goalies. CBJ would be outshot 13 to 6.
The third was more of the same until midway through the third. Hayden Hodgson skated in on a three-on-two and snapped a shot off that went top corner to give the CBJ the insurance it needed to clinch itself a spot in the championship game. The CBJ outshot the Wild 10 to 9 in the final period. In the win, Ivan Kulbakov would make 29 saves.
As I said above, no matter what happens in Monday afternoon’s game against St Louis, the Jackets are in the Championship game for the third time in four years due to the fact the most points the Blues can get with a win is 5 where the CBJ have 6.
- Obviously, Hayden Hodgson was the star tonight picking up two goals. Hayden is committed to UNB of Canadian University Hockey but if he keeps up this play, I doubt he’d turn down a contract offer.
- Luke Kirwan stepped into the game for Trent Fox and showed a lot of speed.
- Ivan Kulbakov made his tournament debut and was solid but to Monsters fans/whatever ECHL team we may assign him to, he’s a bit of a rebound machine. My guess/hope is Kulbakov starts Monday meaning Matiss Kivlenieks starts the championship game.