If you weren’t able to attend Friday night’s Vanderbilt game against Kennesaw State, you missed an absolute classic. This game had the elements of a rough, rugged rivalry game with a splash of unexpected events.
After the introductions and the anthem, Vanderbilt honored a very special guest, 6-year old Michael Sloan. Michael and his family came to watch one of his favorite teams in action for the first time this season after his accident in July. Michael was greeted warmly by Coach Thomas Bernstein and Captain Greg Kirk as they presented him with his own personalized Vanderbilt hockey jersey. Michael then dropped the ceremonial first puck.
Unlike what most Vanderbilt fans are used to, the game started off very quiet on the scoring front. The Kennesaw State Owls got on the board first on just their third shot of the game and tallied the only goal of the first period.
Vanderbilt would weather the five-minute penalty kill as well as the storm system that produced torrential rain and high winds that hit the Antioch area about the same time as the Owls went on the extended power play. When the Owls’ captain, Dylan Conklin, took a roughing penalty in the last minutes of the second period, the effects of the storm were made evident on the ice. The roof started leaking and produced a wet spot on the ice. Although it took some extra time to fix the puddle during the second intermission, it wouldn’t affect the game in the third period.
When the teams took the ice for the third period, KSU’s Adegoke rejoined his team, testing his knee. When the puck dropped, he took his spot on the wing for the face-off. Penalties became the deciding factor and the defining point of the game during the third period. On a crucial power play for Vanderbilt as Adegoke went to the box for hooking, Vanderbilt’s John Longman would receive a pass from Nick Honkala to deposit the game-tying goal. This gave Vanderbilt rolling momentum throughout the third period, as the bench was ecstatic.
During a 5-on-3 power play, Honkala would add the go ahead goal. Longman then netted his third power play goal of the night for the hat trick to give Vanderbilt the 4-2 lead. The Owls had one last golden opportunity to get back in the game. Cory Prinzbach was wide open in the slot but was robbed by Ryan Kellenberger, as the netminder made the save of the night. Vandy’s Doug Kirkpatrick added the insurance goal when he deflected a shot from Greg Kirk. This sealed the deal for the Commodores as they would take the 5-2 victory.
Although the game was very chippy with lots of trash talk and looked like a big-time rivalry game, they still shook hands and showed respect for each other after a very heated competition.