Article and Photos by: Chelsea Zalewski
Oh, how “sweep” it is to be an Eagle player (for the most part) or fan after this weekend’s games against the Michigan Warriors. The team worked hard and beat the third place team in the north this weekend, despite being plagued by injuries. Although they are a still at the bottom, these two wins this weekend have boosted their confidence to hopefully lead to a successful weekend down in Port Huron.
Friday, the Eagles did not have a single captain on the ice due to injuries. It didn’t seem to really affect them though. The first period, while chippy, was uneventful. Midway through the second the Eagles went up 1-0 with a goal from Sandis Zolmanis, assisted by Dante Suffredini and Derek Lodermeier. Michigan answered back with two goals shortly after, the goals coming from Tyler Groat (Zack Szajner and Colin Larkin with the assists) and Alec Pellegrino (Jake Faiella with the assist). Before the end of the second Derek Lodermeier found the back of Michigan’s net and tied up the score at two apiece. Perhaps also worth noting is the fight between former Soo Eagle, Connor Lyons, and current Soo Eagle Matt Menta, each being sent to the box for a five minute timeout. A minute into the third Soo Eagle player Evan Mills was sent to the box for checking from behind and eleven seconds later, veteran forward Mike Sabatini received an odd bounce and was able to make a breakaway to score shorthanded. Thankfully for Eagles fans, despite their efforts, Michigan was unable to score on two more power plays and the Eagles took the game with a score of 3-2. Stars of the game were Tyler Groat (MI), Derek Lodermeier who had a goal and assist, and Eagles goalie Nathan Klebe who made 34 saves.
Saturday looked to be a lot like Friday with regards to the chippiness and the first goal scored. Sandis Zolmanis pushed the puck past Warrior goalie Dillon Kelley with an assist from Darren Brady. Sandis would only see around 8 minutes of the game though because he was thrown out due to a weak head contact call. Michigan answered back a minute later with a goal by Ryan Dougherty from TJ Stuntz and Cam Jorgensen. The Eagles went back up with a goal by Nick Belger assisted by Mike Sabitini but the goal was answered before the end of the second by Ryan Dougerty assisted by Cody Kuster and Nick Mosher. Once again the Eagles went to the locker room during intermission tied up. At the 6:40 mark of the third, Chase Matson scored assisted by AJ Jarosz putting the Eagles up, but not for long because the goal was answered, this time by Tyler Groat from Zack Szajner. Neither team could finish in regulation so they went to overtime. It was half way through OT when Scott Cuthrell made a quick pass to Derek Lodermeier to win the game. In the process, Derek tripped over and maybe speared Michigan’s goalie which caused a little after the whistle shove match to ensue. As the Eagles exited the bench onto the ice to celebrate, so did Michigan but they weren’t up for celebration. There was a lot of pushing, and shoving and a few words were exchanged. After all was said and done, the game winning goal scorer Derek Lodermeier received a spearing major and a game misconduct for his contact with the goal while the goalie Dillon Kelley received a matched penalty for kicking him. Stars from the game were Nathan Klebe who blocked 34 shots for the second night in a row, Michigan goalie Dillon Kelley who faced 46 shots and made 42 saves, and forward Derek Lodermeier who had the game winning goal.
If I were to issue stars for the weekend for just the Eagles as a whole I’d give third star to Mike Sabatini, who had the GWG on Friday night, and then a tie for first between Derek Lodermeire who had two goals and an assist and Nathan Klebe who faced 73 shots and only let in 5 goals. As a whole though, the team proved that they are still trying.
With the wins, the Eagles advanced to 11-14-5 with 27 points, just two behind Janesville. The team will play three more games before getting some much needed rest. They will travel to Michigan, again, and then to Port Huron Friday and Saturday. The Eagles are only halfway through their series of games with Michigan and judging by the amount of penalties and injuries accumulated in just four meetings, I’m sure the series isn’t going to get any less physical.
Trades and Injuries
The Eagles have been making major roster changes as of late. Jackson Barliant and Evan Erickson were released while Jacob McDowell and Jeremy Norway were traded to Bismark. To replace them the Eagles brought in Scott Cuthrell (F), Nick Belger (F), and Trevor Boyd (F). In addition, Eagles picked up Nathan Klebe for between the pipes to help relieve Brennan while Skoog is out. Cuthrell is a 1993 birth year from Waterford, Michigan. He began the season with the Michigan Warriors before coming to the Eagles. He put up 9 points in 21 games and was a +7. Belger is a 1994 birth year who hails from Yorktown Heights, New York. The Eagles acquired him from Springfield where he played 18 games and scored 3 goals and had 6 assists. Boyd is a 1994 birth year from Muskegon Michigan and comes from Austin where he played 14 games and had 4 points. He is a large presence on the ice at 6’3. Nathan Klebe is a 1994 birth year hailing from South Lyon Michigan. He comes from Flint in the NA3HL with a 0.94 save percentage.
I mentioned at the beginning that the Eagles had no captains on the ice and perhaps that is untrue, as Bradley Mueller is an away captain, but does not wear a letter while home. Captain Ryan Urso was out due to a knee injury but should be healthy enough to play Thursday against Michigan, Denver Pierce is out with a concussion until after Christmas, and AJ Jarosz was out with a lower body injury but did play in Saturday’s game. Matt Menta is finally back in the lineup after missing most of the beginning of season.
After the weekend, new injuries were made. Brad Pung is working through a lower body injury after collision with a Warrior player during Saturday’s game. Nick Belger has some very interesting dental work after a scrum that stemmed from the hit on Pung. Defensemen Michael Caruso, who has been in and out with shoulder issues, is now out with a concussion. Goalie, Paige Skoog will not be back until after the New Year as he is also concussed after being run twice in previous games against Michigan.
One thing is for sure, if the Eagles could get healthy, they’d be unstoppable.