If you glance at the box score from Sunday’s Game 5 of the Central Division Finals, it looks like the Wolves’ line of Stefan Matteau (No. 23 above), Tobias Lindberg (No. 25) and Matthew Weis (No. 14) didn’t contribute much.
They didn’t produce any points in the Wolves’ 4-2 win over Grand Rapids. They weren’t on the ice for any of the team’s goals. They combined for a -1 plus/minus rating.
But if you ask Wolves head coach Rocky Thompson, that trio turned around Game 5 with their stellar shift right before Cody Glass erased Grand Rapids’ 1-0 lead 3:41 into the second period.
“In the second period, what really got us going was our third line: Weis, Lindberg and Stefan Matteau,” Thompson said. “They had (Grand Rapids) hemmed in there for a long shift. We had nothing going in the game up until that shift – and they hemmed them in for about 45 seconds and then they changed.”
If you watch the video below, you see the Matteau-Weis-Lindberg line enter the puck into the offensive zone 2:23 into the period. It doesn’t come out until Glass scores 78 seconds later. With help from defensemen Nic Hague and Kevin Lough, who provide some timely pinches to keep the puck in the zone, this group prevents Grand Rapids from changing its personnel and the Griffins get worn down.
By the time Glass, Tye McGinn and Tomas Hyka hit the ice shortly after the above clip ends, they’re revved up and the Griffins can’t hang with them. As Glass cycles toward the top of the slot, McGinn plants himself in front of Griffins goaltender Harri Sateri and defenseman Vili Saarijarvi is too weary to try to prevent McGinn from shielding Sateri’s vision.
If the scorekeeper could give out seven assists on a goal, then he’d have to add McGinn, Weis, Matteau, Lindberg and Lough to the ones earned officially by Hyka and Hague.
“Those are the things that go unseen sometimes,” Thompson said. “Even though they didn’t get on the scoresheet, those individual players – they’re the ones who got us going. When you play that way, your teammates get rewarded with points – not necessarily your linemates – but it helps with your team game. I give those guys a ton of credit. And we just kept going from that point.”
The Wolves find out tonight whether they’ll play second-seeded Milwaukee or third-seeded Iowa in the Central Division Finals.