Game Recap Week 9

5/20/07 vs Skate Texas (5-3-0)

This Skate Texas team has significantly improved this season, already winning more games than they have in the past 3 seasons combined. they also sit two points ahead of us in 4th place, so a win today would begin to put us in prime playoff position.

In the past two games, we’ve given up goals very in early in the contest and this was something we hoped to avoid to start another game. While we were able to make it out of the first few minutes without giving up a goal, at the 4.5 minute mark, with Paul in the box for slashing, the Skate Texas power play made us pay, as Josh didn’t quite see a shot that went between Keith’s legs and found it’s way to the back of the net. True to our form though, Chuck brought us back to life just 19 seconds later with his 17th goal of the season to tie the game at one. Less than two minutes later, after Chuck won a faceoff, Lenny broke through the defenders and popped home our second goal to take the lead. Both teams continued to flash their offensive abilities, with Skate Texas coming down on us with numerous odd-man rushes, each time, only to be turned away either through stellar defensive play or with Josh slamming the door shut.

The second period continued down the same path, as we had numerous opportunites to grab a two-goal lead, but could not find the back of the net. Skate Texas also had numerous chances, a few 2 on 1’s, a 4-on-1 that Joe played beautifully to break up and a breakaway that Josh stopped with his stick, but left a juicy rebound for the trailer. He recovered in time however and made a fantastic blocker save on that shot as well. Lyle also stepped up the defense, as he used his body to break up a couple of rushes and got under the skin of the Skate Texas forwards. Halfway through the period though, after some work around the back and side of the net, the puck squirted free with Josh caught out of position and the Skate Texas forward roofed the puck over his outstretched pad to knot the game at 2. Just 2 minutes later, Skate Texas was pouring on the pressure again and a beautiful one-timer found it’s way under Josh’s left pad to give them their lead back. In the last five minutes of the second period, we were also forced to kill off two penalties, one of which would be carrying over into the third.

Starting the period, we knew we would need a quick score, but staying out of the penalty box became a bigger priority as Lyle was whistled for roughing at the 12 minute mark and Tom N. took a slashing penalty with 30 seconds remaining in Lyle’s penalty. After clearing the zone, the puck was shot back in right to Josh who attempted to clear the zone again, but hit Chuck with a pass instead (although it wasn’t planned that way!). Fargo raced down the left wing and made a perfect shot into the far corner of the net to tie the game with a 5-on-3, short-handed goal! While we were confident that we could grab another lead, Skate Texas turned it up another notch and consistently peppered Josh and the defense with attack after attack. We also showed some offensive life, as Dave had his second breakaway of the game late in the period, but again, couldn’t find the net. With two minutes to go however, our biggest challenge approached us as Chuck was called for holding. This meant we would finish the game short-handed. Skate Texas had ample opportunities and probably fired 5-8 good shots on net, with a couple leading to scrums after the whistle. With 20 seconds remaining and the puck tied up at the side of the net, one of their forwards took a jab at Josh after the whistle and Paul let him know, not so subtly, that that was not acceptable. The Skate Texas forward didn’t like that and punched Paul back in the head and wrestled him down to the ground. Keith tried to come in to get their guy off Paul, but another forward came over and grabbed him as well. Once the tangled bodies were separated, Paul and his opponent were given 5 minutes each for fighting and Keith and his man were given 3rd men in penalties. After a lengthy delay, the situation was sorted out and the final 20 seconds of this great game were played. After the faceoff, Lenny grabbed a loose puck and held it in the corner to burn the seconds off the clock and preserve the comeback tie we worked so hard to earn.

Final Score: 3-3 (4-4-1)

Next week we are off for the Memorial Day weekend holiday, however some of us will be playing on various teams in the Memorial Day Invitational Tournament. We’ll return in two weeks (6/3) against the Maple Leaf Pub, who are currently sitting in third place.

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Game Recap Week 8

5/13/07 vs Rangers (1-6-0)

After being slaughtered the week before by the Buzzards, this week, we faced off against a Rangers team that has been in a tailspin for most of the season. Our one-sided history against this team is also weighing heavily in our favor, as we are 5-1-0 against them, but this proved not to be the cakewalk we had hoped.

Unfortunately, the first period started off in the same manner as the way we played last week, falling behind just 2 minutes in. However, we were dominating the play and we were also able to draw a few penalties because of our consistent forecheck. While on a 5-on-3 power play, although the Rangers had cleared the zone, Josh scooped up the puck near the blue line and pushed it to the other side before passing to Dave near the opposing blue line. Dave brought it into the zone and the puck eventually found it’s way onto Paul’s stick in the slot, where he fired a slapshot into the top corner to knot the game at one. Our comeback was short-lived though, as the Rangers took their lead back less than three minutes later and held onto it for the remainder of the period.

The second period followed the path of the first, with us dominating the play, but unable to score. Our offense seemed to click with Keith in the box for hooking though as Alexey raced down the left wing, made a nice cut to the middle and fired home a short handed goal to tie the game back up at two. About threee minutes later, Chuck continued his goal-scoring ways by firing home a wrist shot from the right circle to give us our first lead of the night. Just 45 seconds later, on a scramble in front, Fargo found the net again to give us a comfortable 2-goal cushion. The Rangers, however, continued to battle and with one minute to go in the second period, found the back of the net again on a screen shot to cut the deficit to one.

Again, in the third period, our offense continued to pepper the Rangers and just two and a half minutes in we took to the man-advantage again. Just 45 seconds later, Dave wheeled around the net and passed out to the front of the net where Paul was waiting to tap in his second power play goal of the night. We looked to have this game well under control for the remainder of the period, although the Rangers did have a few scoring chances, but Josh was there to foil them. However, the game got very interesting in the last 3 minutes as Keith was in the box for roughing, the Rangers again found the back of the net and pulled to within one, but the defense slammed the door shut and Josh didn’t allow another shot to find the net as we pulled of the victory.

Final Score: 5-4 (4-4-0)

Next week we face the vastly improved Skate Texas team, which should prove to be a true challenge.

Game Recap Week 7

5/6/07 vs Buzzards (3-3-0)

This game marked the halfway point of the season and we were looking to improve upon our current standing of being tied for fifth place. We would also be without our leading scorer, Chuck, this week, but we felt we could overcome that with strong defense and goaltending, as well as a couple of timely goals. Our history against the Buzzards was a good one at 3-1-2, with two shutout victories, but this game was completely different and over, almost literally, before it started.

:08 seconds into the first period, a slapshot from just inside the blue line banged off the padding at the back of the net, as Josh never saw the shot through his defenseman and didn’t even flinch. Just :23 seconds later, the Buzzards rushed down the left side and flipped a puck to the center that was redirected between Josh’s legs for a stunning, two-goal lead. Just 3 minutes after that, the Buzzards struck again. Once we got past our stunning start, we settled down and created numerous offensive chances. One thing that helped to turn the tide of the period was the Buzzards lack of discipline. We were awarded three power plays, one of which was a full, two-minute 5-on-3, however, we couldn’t find the back of the net to get us back in the game.

That all changed on a power play early in the second as Alexey cut the deficit to two. However, only one minute later, the Buzzards blocked a shot at the blue line which turned into a breakaway. Josh made the initial save, but the rebound floated away from him and right back onto a Buzzards’ stick, who fired it to the back of the net. Five minutes later, again on the power play, Lenny found the net for the second game in a row, to again cut the lead to two. Three minutes later though, the Buzzards finished our comeback attempts, scoring their fifth goal, sealing our fate.

While being down by three at the start of the third period wasn’t impossible, we just weren’t clicking offensively or defensively and the Buzzards scored two more goals in the 1st four minutes of the 3rd to stretch their lead to seven. With 8 seconds left, they tallied one more for good measure to add salt to the wounds.

The significant stories of this game were our slow, but stunning start; our lack of production on the power play, although we did go 2-for-8; and the amount of goals that were scored through screens on Josh (3). These were all things we’ll be looking to correct heading down the stretch run.

Final Score: 2-8 (3-4-0) 

Next week, we face the much maligned Rangers.

Game Recap Week 6

4/29/07 vs. Hornets (1-4-0)

Playing against a first time opponent can sometimes be a challenge, but this week, we introduced ourselves Chuck took it upon himself to introduce Houston Strength to the Hornets in spectacular fashion.

Before the fans could get settled Early in the first period, Alexey drove to the net and popped home goal after some nice work by Lenny and Chuck. Just 1:33 into the game, we were already on the board and that was just the beginning. Five minutes into the contest, Marc slid a backhand home on a loose puck in front to stretch our lead to 2-0. Just three minutes later, Fargo began to steal the show on his way to a natural hat-trick (and then some!), with a nice rush down the left side, firing it in with a wrister from the left hash mark. 1:07 later, Chuck was at it again, making a nifty move in the high slot and firing home another wrister to the far side to put us up 4-0. Less than two minutes later, Fargo finished his three-goal spurt by pushing a rebound into the net. This came after Lenny broke out of the zone, down the wing, making a nice pass in the corner to Alexey, who then found Chuck open in front of the net.

At the start of the second period, we looked to continue our scoring ways, however we hit a slight bump in the road just 1:27 in, as the Hornets got on the board with a flukey goal that rolled over Josh’s shoulder, down his back & into the goal. The Hornets fed off this opportunity and continued to send shots on goal while we began to relax, maybe a little too much. That all changed with six minutes remaining in the period as Lenny took a pass of the boards from Joe, made a great rush up the right side and scored top-shelf to reclaim our five-goal lead. This sparked the Hornets even more as they pressured us in our defensive zone, finally breaking through again with a minute left in the period, while Bob was in the box for roughing.

Heading into the third period, we knew we’d have to stay more disciplined, as we took three penalties in the second, one of which cost us a goal. However, just 40 seconds into the period, Joe took and interference penalty and 16 seconds into the power play, the Hornets stung again to cut our lead to 6-3. Just one minute later, the Hornets pulled even closer as they continued to pour on the offense. That would be as close as they would come though, as we clamped down defensively. At the 8 minute mark, Chuck continued his scoring ways as he took a chip-pass from Marc in the corner, worked his way out front and rifled home another wrister into the corner to build the lead back up to 7-4. This all but sealed the game up as we Chuck stopped the bleeding and finished off the Hornets with one last power play goal with 1:10 to play. Tom held the puck in at the point, found Lenny at the side of the net, who fed Chuck alone in front again for his 5th goal of the night.

Chuck, Lenny and Alexey again dominated our opponents, totaling 13 points, including Chuck’s 5 goals and 2 assists. Even though we thoroughly defeated our opponents, we did give up two power play goals and had a slight letdown at the end of the second and beginning of the third periods. We recovered however, and finished them off late in the third.

Final Score: 8-4 (3-3-0)

Next week we square off with the Buzzards.