This series focuses on breaking down a game’s, or a few games’, performance from a player and pointing out specific elements through assembled clips with written descriptions and notes on what to watch for. The videos don’t have sound (for now). Suggestions are welcome to improve the format.
Ryan Poehling scored 31 points in 36 games last season, which was a massive improvement over the 13 in 35 he had during his first year. Now, as a junior and St. Cloud State’s top centre, he could be one of the very top offensive forces on a team once again chasing a Frozen Four appearance this year.
Friday was a display of what Poehling can do for his team’s attack. Not only did he score a goal, there were numerous times where he challenged the defence to set up teammates, or (what is a less frequent occurrence for him) fire at the net himself. He recorded just one official shot but had a couple of other ones in good positions that missed the cage.
The Northern Michigan University Wildcats are not seen as a powerhouse of the same calibre as St. Cloud State at the start of this season, and the space available on the ice due to lapses in coverage from the opposition helped St. Cloud’s attack shine in that game. But there is something to be said about recognizing opportunities and being able to prey on another team’s defence, which is exactly what Poehling did.
He turned what could have been good offensive plays into great ones with his poise in possession and ability to read and react to the opposition and his teammates alike.
He used deception to open passing lanes and space for himself, constantly moving his feet to sneak behind the defence for scoring chances and disrupt the opposition on the forecheck. He was instrumental in breaking many of the opposition plays at their inception with his strong pressure away from the puck.
Poehling might not get the same opportunities at the NHL level, or be able to replicate the same plays with the tighter defensive coverage and the reduced space, especially because St. Cloud plays on a larger ice surface, but his sense for the game and his ability to orchestrate the offensive performance are qualities that will translate to the next levels of play.
In the end, it is not about this one game, no matter how good it was (he probably could have been rewarded with a few more assists), but more about the confidence he showed on the attack.
It could be a springboard for a great year for Poehling.
Ryan Poehling is #11 in White.