After losing the opening game of the crucial weekend series against ASU on Friday night, the DII NAU Ice Jacks made a switch at goalie. Seth Kollman got the start in the vital game Saturday night instead of Anthony Caruso.
After the way the team struggled the previous night, it was clear they needed to do something. Switching goalies proved to be the right button to press, as Kollman was crucial in the 4-3 overtime victory on Saturday night.
On a night where senior leaders were prevalent on both sides, with two goals from the senior captain Justin Havriliak of ASU, strong defensive play from the NAU seniors Cameron McDonald, James Takacs, Liam Ayoub, and Jake Smets, and an overtime winner from senior forward Greg Park, it was the sophomore Kollman who came up big in net in the win.
Kollman shut out the Sun Devils in the first period and made the big saves when they counted, including multiple saves at the end of the third period to keep the score tied and crucial saves in overtime as well.
Time and time again, Kollman snatched pucks out of the air or kicked them aside, neutralizing the potent ASU attack en route to an important win for the Ice Jacks.
Kollman had plenty to deal with Saturday night, especially considering the amount of traffic in front of the net all night long. In addition to all the shots heading Kollman's way, Sun Devils forwards were sent crashing into the net all night long. Kollman was knocked down time after time on Saturday night, but he was able to get back up after every tumble.
It was clear to see the Sun Devils had a game plan to crash the net and to screen whoever NAU chose to play in net with their forwards right in front of the crease. Although, NAU was able to combat this plan with great play in net from Kollman and outstanding play from the Ice Jacks defense.
One of the biggest issues for the Ice Jacks in the first game of the series was Caruso's rebounds, which directly led to two Sun Devils goals. Kollman clearly took note of that, as he froze the puck whenever he had the chance and kept his rebounds in check.
The ironic part of it all is Caruso came in to this weekend as the goalie who had the least trouble with rebounds. Kollman, however, lost his grip on the starting job earlier in the season, partially because of the number of rebounds he gave up to opposing teams.
The best thing to take out of this fact was it is clear that Kollman has improved drastically from the start of the season to now. With the development of Kollman, if Caruso can correct his issues from this weekend and bounce back strong next semester, the Ice Jacks have two very capable goalies for the stretch run.
After the win Saturday, the Ice Jacks managed a split in the series and kept their hopes at first place alive heading into next semester.