In their final game of the tournament, the Wings played the Carolina Hurricane to determine who would take 3rd and 4th place. It was a messy, grueling, physically punishing game and it was obvious from the start that the players were physically and mentally exhausted, and made uncharacteristic mistakes. A few players stood out from the rest as determined to win this game, and their example and perseverance made this win possible. Martin Frk was a man possessed, especially late in the game. He was everywhere, creating scoring chances, and although he took a lot of physical abuse especially in the 2nd and 3rd periods, he only became more determined, and scored the game tying goal late in the game to make the win possible. Andreas Athanasiou, Tyler Bertuzzi, and Colin Campbell were the other players who stuck out to me a exceptionally determined and effective in the game. It's always interesting to see who steps up, takes charge, and comes through when the team most needs it.
|Martin Frk||Tomas Noek||Marek Tvrdon|
|Tyler Bertuzzi||Andreas Athanasiou||Colin Campbell|
|Darby llewellyn||Zach Nastasiuk||Jerome Verrier|
|Blake Clarke||Dominic Turgeon||Hayden Hodgson|
|Mattias Backman||Ryan Sproul|
|Richard Nedomlel||Joe Hicketts|
|Ty Stanton||Marc McNulty|
How It Went Down
The recorded shots on goal had Detroit with a 7-1 lead, but Carolina had 3 or 4 shots and Jake Paterson had to make a couple very good saves. The Wings started out with some good scoring chances and good offensive pressure, but the last 8 or so minutes was all Carolina. It started when left handed defenseman Richard Nedomlel lost his stick, and right handed forward Jerome Verrier gave his (significantly shorter and wrong handed) stick to Big Richard. The Canes coaches were yelling from the bench for their players to "use" the guy without a stick (Verrier at the time). Zach Nastasiuk was finally able to clear the puck out of the Wings zone, but it went all the way down for icing and the Wings chose to use their time out early to give the exhausted guys a break (and get Nedomlel a stick). Next another Wings player lost his stick and the Wings were essentially down a man again. Martin Frk made a couple great moves to get quality scoring changes and he continues to impress me with how much he's improved even since mid way through the season last year.
After a scoreless first period without a single penalty, the Wings made up for lost time by taking five penalties in the 2nd period, and the Canes took advantage of their opportunities by scoring two goals on the power play and another at even strength. Three and a half minute into the period, Marc McNulty took a terrible hooking penalty that resulted in the Canes first goal a mere nine seconds into the power play. Andreas Athanasiou lost the faceoff to the left of Jake Paterson and that was the last time a Wing touched the puck until Dennis Robertson beat a sliding Paterson on the right side and it was 1-0 Canes. Just over a minute later, Phil DiGiuseppe was left alone and had a wide open back door to Paterson's left and made it 2-0 Canes. Marek Tvrdon had a great chance to even up the game shortly after the Cane scored, but the Canes goalie robbed him. Martin Frk too had great scoring chance but the Canes goalie once again prevailed Just over halfway through the period, Hayden Fleury elbowed Martin Frk right in the face (with no call), which sparked a heated wrestling match between Brendan Woods and Richard Nedomlel that drew 5 minute fighting majors for both players. It was starting to feel like the Wings weren't going to score a single goal when Andreas Athanasiou scored a 4 on 4 goal and put the Wings on their way to a comeback. Determined to help his team complete the comeback, four minutes later Athanasiou tied the game when Mattias Backman sprang Athanasiou at the Wings blue line, AA carried the puck into the zone, drop passed it to Marek Tvrdon, drove the net, and Tvrdon slipped him a nice little cross crease pass to the left of Canes goalie Daniel Altshuller and Athanasiou made no mistake. We finally had a tie game with five minutes left in the 2nd period. The Wings had life! Unfortunately with less than three minutes to go in the period, Richard Nedomlel let the Canes get under his skin just enough that he lashed out and took a high sticking penalty and the Canes scored about half way through their power play to take a 3-2 lead after Dominic Tergeon lost the faceoff and Sergey Tolchinsky rang on off the top right corner of the post and in.. It was an incredibly rough period, with several huge hits, and players from both teams taking every opportunity to crunch one another into the board with resolve. Pucks cracked off shin pads, helmets, visors, skates, and chest pads- and I'm not just talking about the goalies. Ryan Sproul made a Canes player momentarily wish for death when he blocked a Sproul slapper from about 15 feet away. The puck hit him in the ....testicular region... and he immediately dropped face down onto the ice in pain. It was (sometimes painfully) evident that the Wings players were mentally and physically fatigued from playing their 4th grueling game in 5 days. Guys were making mental they wouldn't ordinarily make, tempers were on edge, legs were sluggish, passes were sloppy, and the players were wearing down fast. Blashill had the tough task of stalling the collapse for at least 20 more minutes of play.
When you're physically and mentally exhausted, killing off penalties isn't what you need, but Marc McNulty took an interference penalty five minutes into the period that the Wings were able to kill off. That would thankfully be the end of the Wings penalties for the night. Martin Frk came out in the third period like a man possessed. He was everywhere when he was on the ice, and he was playing with a confidence and drive that were unmatched. When the Canes' Trevor Carrick took a boarding penalty after the halfway mark of the period, I thought the Wings were going to use their power play to tie up the game. Much to my dismay, Patrick Brown scored a shorthanded goal less than 20 seconds into the Wings power play to give the Canes a 4-2 lead. Tomas Nosek lost the faceoff in the Cane zone, Mattias Backman fumbled the puck at the point, Ryan failed to keep Patrick Brown from getting his shot off, and the puck found its way underneath Jake Paterson's glove and above his left pad. There was a lot of fail on the Wings part that led to this goal, and I believe it was largely due to the fatigue. Time was running out and it was looking less and less likely that the Wings would be able to even tie the game, when Marty Frk did the dirty work to get the puck and Tomas Nosek tipped in a Ty Stanton shot to make it 4-3 Canes with only 3:42 left in regulation. It was a one goal game in the final few minutes of the game, would the Wings be able to come back and force overtime? The Wings were buzzing now, throwing everything they had at the net and putting pressure on the Canes and Jake Paterson made several key saves and gave the team the chance to tie it up. Then... with 2:01 left in the game and down by a goal, Tomas Nosek won the faceoff in the Canes zone, the puck came back to Mattias Backman at the right point, he passed up to Andreas Athanasiou, who passed the puck across the ice to Marty Frk who was waiting all alone on the left faceoff dot. Marty one timed that puck, going down on one knee and giving it everything he had. With Tyler Bertuzzi in his face, Daniel Altshuller tried to slide over quickly enough to make the save, but.. he...just...couldn't....get...over...fast...enough... MARTY FRK HAS TIED THE GAME WITH TWO MINUTES LEFT! FRK YEAH!!!!!!! THE CROWD GOES WILD!!!
Alex Aleardi took a tripping penalty just 1:22 into overtime, giving the Wings the perfect opportunity to win the game with a 4 on 3 power play. The Canes are able to clear the puck out of the zone, Ryan Sproul goes back to gather it up, passes it forward to Athanasiou who's streaking through the neutral zone. Athanasiou taps the pass forward to Tyler Bertuzzi who carries the puck into the Canes zone on the left side, passes back to Backman at the point, Backman rims it around the boards to Athanasiou in the right corner. Athanasiou gives it to Sproul at the right point, Sproul passes it back to Athanasiou, Athanasiou gives it back to Sproul, who sends it over to Backman at the left point. Backman and Sproul switch sides, Backman to Athanasiou back to Backman back to Athanasiou, around the boards to Sproul. Sproul shoots and misses, Bertuzzi retrieves the puck and gets it back to Sproul at the left point. Sproul to Backman back to Sproul, Sproul shoots and misses, around the boards to Athanasiou, back to Sproul, Sproul shoots AND TYLER BERTUZZI TIPS IN THE PUCK! THE WING WIN IT IN OVERTIME!!!!
I really hoped that the Wing would be able to repeat as tournament champions, but despite only losing one game, we have to settle for 3rd place instead. While it's typical for teams to stack their rosters as much as possible, the Wings chose to go with a very young and inexperienced team, and the experience and knowledge those young players gained will undoubtedly be very beneficial as they continue their development. I'm always sad to see the tournament end, but it signals the imminent beginning of the hockey season which makes me tingle with excitement.