Breaking Down the Blue Jackets' Win Against Minnesota in the Traverse City Prospects Tournament

By Jeff Svoboda on September 9, 2017 at 10:51 pm
Columbus celebrates the Minnesota win

1st Ohio Battery

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It was a much different game than the opener, but the result was the same: The Columbus Blue Jackets are winners.

The CBJ booked their spot in the final of the Traverse City Prospects Tournament with a hard-fought 3-1 victory against the Minnesota Wild in game two of the three-game round-robin.

Minnesota held the shot edge for much of the night and drew a number of power plays, but Columbus was able to win thanks to stout team defending, a power-play goal from Jordan Maletta and two tallies by free-agent invitee Hayden Hodgson.

The game was more physical and heavier than the Dallas game and Minnesota brought more prospects firepower to the table than the Stars, resulting in a contest in which the teams had to fight for each inch of the ice. 

QUOTABLE

Cleveland Monsters/Blue Jackets head coach John Madden: "I just thought we didn't have our legs early. I thought we played better as the game went on. Certain guys were better, but as a team effort, the effort was there but we just weren't winning our one-on-one battles, getting out-competed at certain times. We addressed it after the first period. We took some bad penalties, which takes your momentum away. You can't get certain guys on the ice. It takes the rhythm out of the game. So excuses aside, I just didn't think it was our best effort, but the one thing I did like was our resolve to stay with it. Sometimes when you don't have your best, you have to find a way to win and I think we did that."

Maletta: "A lot of penalties, you're right about that. It was hard to get our momentum going. It was hard to get flow. But our penalty kill did well, our power play I think got one and we won the special teams so we won the game."

Three stars

1. Hodgson: What can you say about a guy who less than a month ago signed a letter of intent with the University of New Brunswick, then shows up at the tournament and pots two goals in a big game for his team? The first one was a greasy goal from the front, but the second was a beauty, a snipe off the bar and in on a 3-on-2 rush that gave the Blue Jackets some much needed insurance. Hodgson was on the fourth line in the first game but was moved up to play with Paul Bittner and Sam Vigneault and was impressive.

"It's nice," he said afterward. "Obviously you get the bounces here and there. As an invite, I just wanted to come here and work as hard as I could and so as much as I could. It feels good."

The 21-year-old had 38 goals in 67 games last season with Saginaw of the OHL and signed an amateur try-out with Cleveland last year but didn't get a chance to get in a game. Still, Madden is impressed with what he brings to the table.

"To me, when I saw him shoot the puck, I was like, 'That's an NHL-caliber shot," Madden said. "I tried working him on the power play. He's getting a real good look. He played with two solid players in Paul Bittenr and Sam Vigneault. I really liked his game tonight. Good for him."

2. Ivan Kulbakov: The 20-year-old from Belarus stepped in for his first start of the tournament after Matiss Kivlenieks started game one. All he did was make 29 stops, though he might have gotten lucky on one as a first-period redirection appeared to sneak by him, though it wasn't called a goal when the rebounded back under his pad.

Kulbakov, who like Kivlenieks was in the USHL a year ago and posted a 1.93 goals-against average with the Youngstown Phantoms, wasn't quite as calm in his net as the goalie the night before but seemed to settle in as the game went on.

"I thought he was great," Madden said. "Especially early. We coughed up some pucks. Those broken plays in front of the net are so hard, and he made some saves and held his ground. He had his composure and he played solid. I was really happy with that."

3. Vitaly Abramov: The young, talented Russian didn't get on the board but the QMJHL MVP did show again why he excited CBJ fans so. Abramov always seems to be in the right place at the right time, a good combination to pair with his obvious skill level. He has also impressed coaches with his quickness level and skating. He remains an intriguing option when it comes to scoring goals going forward.

Slappers

The victim of Hodgson's move up in the lineup was Kole Sherwood, who moved down to the "fourth" line (the line charts aren't exactly to be taken literally, for what it's worth). Sherwood seems to play with a bit of an edge to his game. ... Columbus moved forward Luke Kirwan and defenseman Medric Mercier into the lineup, swapping out forward Trent Fox and defenseman Stephen Desrocher. ... Bittner hit the post on a goal-scoring opportunity in the third period. 

NEXT UP

Columbus faces St. Louis on Monday.

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