Game Recap Week 13

6/25/07 vs Black Jacks (5-6-1)

For the third week in a row, we needed a big win to keep our playoff hopes alive. Fortunately, we were holding our own destiny and with a win, we could inch closer to clinching that playoff berth. Standing in our way were the Black Jacks, whom we defeated earlier in the season 7-2, although the game was much closer than the score.

The start of this game saw the Black Jacks take some offensive control, firing shots on goal as often as possible, however, on a harmless play from the blue line, Marc dumped the puck towards the net, but it was deflected and slid inside the goal to give us an early 1-0 lead.,It was Marc’s 5th goal of the season, along with Lyle and Bob’s first points of the year for their assists. The game stayed pretty even for both teams, although Josh made one fantastic save on a pass into the slot that was redirected towards the top corner. He was sliding over as the puck was deflected and popped his right elbow out to just knock it over the bar. It continued to be a back and forth game until just inside 5 minutes to go, when off a faceoff, a light shot from the point was just barely grazed, which changed its path and skipped between Josh’s pads to knot the game at 1. We did not crumble though and with less than a minute to go, off a tremendous effort by Ed to beat out an icing call, he made a pass to Doug, who returned the feed as Lenny was streaking into the slot. Ed made a perfect pass and Lenny rifled a shot into the far corner for his 5th of the year as well, to give us our lead back heading into the second period.

Early into the period, the Black Jacks seemed to take some control of the game, however, Tom  S. blocked a pass through the high slot and raced down alone on the goalie. He made a sweet move to avoid a pokecheck and slid the puck into the empty net to give us a 2 goal lead. That was short lived however, as Bob made his way to the penalty box (as usual!) for roughing. With 25 seconds left in his penalty, one their players was left all alone in front and had all day to find the back of the net and cut the lead back to one. The next 10 minutes provided some nonstop, end to end action, with each team finding scoring chances hard to come by. Josh made a big stop with about 5 minutes to go as a rebound bounced out to the slot and an awaiting Black Jacks player. He tried using a fake to move Josh to his right, but he didn’t bite and snagged the shot with his glove. With just over 2 minutes to go, Tom S. was called for holding on a partial breakaway and with him in the box, the Black Jacks again applied some pressure. However, again, some solid defense and a great play by Lenny in the slot turned into a breakaway for Ed, who also avoided a pokecheck and fired the puck into the empty net for a shorthanded goal, to regain our 2 goal advantage at the end of the period.

We began the third period with the intention to play strong defense and attempt to keep the Black Jacks from gaining quality scoring chances, but at the 2:36 mark, Keith was called for a trip and we went back to the penalty kill. About a minute later, Doug found Ed in the neutral zone for another breakaway, but this time he needed to make a slick move to get away from the oncoming defenseman and the goalie before lifting the puck into the net to build our lead to 5-2 on another shorthanded tally. Just moments after Keith’s penalty expired though, Bob was sent back to the box for roughing, which started an onslaught of Black Jacks offense. Just 45 seconds into the penalty, Doc was called for a high stick to give them a 5-on-3 advantage. The Black Jacks used their timeout at this point, knowing if they could score here, they were right back in the game. They cycled the puck around and fired off some great shots, but Josh was equal to the task and we were able to kill both penalties off and return to full strength. This did not deter them however, as with just over 5 minutes remaining, a pass came to the slot and even though the defenseman seemed to tie up their player, he was able to get a great shot off which found the upper corner, to cut the lead back down to two. Even though they were coming at us again, firing shots from everywhere, our defense was playing strong and getting the pucks out of the zone frequently. With about 1:30 remaining, the Black Jacks pulled their goalie for the extra attacker, but never really got any good puck movement inside our zone and we were able to withstand the pressure to hold onto the win and gain the precious 2 points we needed.

Final Score: 5-3 (6-5-2)

Up next week, our final regular season game against Gang Green, whom we also beat earlier in the season. This game may determine our playoff status. A win and we’re definitely in, anything else, and we may need some help.

Game Recap Week 12

6/17/07 vs Rangers (1-9-1)

Entering this game, we were desperate for a win after blowing a chance to earn some points against a competitor for one of the final playoff spots. Just 2 weeks after losing Chuck, we found out that we lost our second leading scorer, Alexey to a broken thumb for 4 weeks. Down, but not out, we called in Ed to fill in some offense for us…and he delivered.

The first period went back and forth, however neither team could find their offense. Both teams did have a few chances, but were foiled time and time again. The Rangers were also able to control much of the middle portion of the period as we, as usual, found ourselves in penalty trouble. Dave was called for a high-stick and immediately after that penalty expired, we were sent right back to the box for too many men. With just over a minute to play Tom S. found himself in the sin bin for roughing and we were back to killing another penalty. After a couple of strong saves by Josh and some stellar defensive work, the period ended in a scoreless tie.

The second period started the same as the first, but just 2:31 in, after a long clear by Josh, Paul and Dave stole the puck in the corner, eventually working it out to the front of the net. A scramble ensued and the puck found its way to Marc, who then lifted a backhand home to break the ice. The action continued to be end to end, with Josh making two huge save in the middle of the period to preserve the 1-0 lead. With 1:25 left in the period, Ed struck for his first of the season off a great feed from Doug to up the lead to two.

The third period began with a fury as we controlled the play in the zone and Lenny knocked home a rebound less than three minutes in, to give us a commanding 3-0 lead. However, less than a minute and a half later, the Rangers got on the board after their forward raced down the wing, beating the defenseman and sliding the puck in as Josh went for the pokecheck and missed. Even though this gave the Rangers some life, Josh slammed the door shut, making numerous saves to keep the Rangers just out of reach and with 3:31 left, Doug fired home a rebound off a shot from Ed to put the game out of reach at 4-1.

Final Score: 4-1 (5-5-2)

Next up, a Monday night showdown with the Black Jacks for playoff positioning.

Game Recap Week 11

6/10/07 vs. Old School Oil Kings (3-5-2)

With 4 games remaining before playoffs, we find ourselves as one of 4 teams looking for 3 playoffs spots. This week, we were facing off with one of those teams, which also happens to be the other new team to the league, the Oil Kings.

Starting this game, we were trying to break a couple of trends of the last few games: giving up an early goal and falling behind trying to play catch up the rest of the game. While we were somewhat successful in coming back to tie our previous two games, we needed the head-to-head win to keep pace in the playoff race.

Even though we succeeded in not allowing an early goal, we did fall behind with 4 minutes remaining in the first period on a wrist shot from the slot that found the corner of the net. Just 1:15 later, the Oil Kings struck again to jump out to a 2-0 lead at the end of the first period.

Down by 2 heading into the 2nd Period, we knew we could still come back if we played smart and got some shots on goal. However, less than 3 minutes into the period, a shot from the side of the net banked off Josh’s pad and trickled across the line to drop us behind by a third goal. At the 6:46 mark, a rebound off a breakaway was fired past Josh to bring the Oil Kings lead to four and in the meantime, our offense, still missing Chuck, was sputtering. We did manage a few shots on goal and Tom S. even rang one off the crossbar, but the Oil Kings kept the pressure on and scored again with less than a minute to play in the 2nd to bring their lead to 5-0.

In the third period, the offense did find some life, but the Oil Kings goalie was up to the task and kept the net empty as their offense continued to pile shots on goal. In the end, our inability to breakout effectively and get the puck deep in their zone hindered our chances of coming back.

Final Score: 0-5 (4-5-2)

Next week we face off against the Rangers and while they have only won one game, they do have offensive firepower and we’ll need our offense to find their game to keep us in the playoff hunt.

Game Recap Week 10

6/3/07 vs Maple Leaf Pub (6-2-1)

Our opponent this week was an old team, with a new name and some new faces. The Maple Leaf Pub, clinging to third place, came into this game on a 3-game win streak and looked to keep within 2 points of first place. On our bench however, we were faced with losing Chuck, our leading scorer, for a few games with a partially torn quadriceps muscle. In addition to the loss of his services, we would be without a number of regulars, Doc, Ike and Keith, who was suspended and our second leading scorer Alexey would also be missing for this game. However, an in-season acquisition of Paul’s brother, Adam might prove to be the youth we’re looking for to spur us on into the playoffs.

The first period started off in our usual fashion as we surrendered a number of shots on goal without generating very much offense. Josh was playing well, however 4:29 into the game, a shot from the far hash mark deflected off a shaft towards the net. Josh was able to get part of his pad on it, but not enough and it squirted over the line to drop us into a 1-0 hole. The next few minutes were critical in the game as we took 3 consecutive penalties, which included a 5-on-3 for :32. We were successful in our penalty kills and began to get our offensive juices flowing, but with the period winding down, there was some miscommunication between Josh and his defense, which led to a goal with just 3 ticks left on the clock.

The second period was back and forth between the two teams, each generating scoring opportunities, but both goalies were turning away shot after shot.  At the 9-minute mark however, Lyle took a slashing penalty and just 41 seconds later, the Maple Leaf Pub team scored again to increase their lead to three. Just 3 minutes later though, Paul took a long lead pass from Doug out of our own zone, raced in on the goalie and slid the puck to the back of the net to notch our first goal of the game. The end of the second period saw Adam weaving around in the offensive zone, only to be hooked from behind. Even though he drew that penalty, he retaliated with a slash and then kicked his glove at the bench resulting in 4 minutes in penalties and a Maple Leaf power play.

Starting the third period, we were shorthanded and running around in our own zone, but an errant Maple Leaf pass scooted over our blue line with Paul speedily chasing it down, walking in on goal and lifting a backhand over the goalies pad to cut the lead to one, with 14 minutes remaining in the game. Our propensity to continue taking penalties could have caught up with us, but instead, with 10 minutes remaining and Bob in the box for roughing, Adam skated down the left wing and rifled a slapshot into the back of the net for his first Houston Strength goal, another shorthanded goal and more importantly, the game-tying goal. The next 10 minutes were action packed, with both teams getting quality scoring chances, but both defenses and goalies were intent on not allowing another goal. With less than 3 minutes to go, Josh made an important stop up against the post on a tough backhand shot. With less than 2 minutes left, Adam found room on the right circle to fire a slapshot on net that the Pub goalie reached out and denied finding the net. Adam again, with less than 10 seconds on the clock, skated in and fired a shot on net, but was foiled as the final save was made and the clock ran out down zero to end this game in a hard-fought tie.

Final score: 3-3 (4-4-2)

Next week, we get to face the other new team to the league, the Old School Oil Kings in a late night matchup. With four games left, we’re one of five teams in the hunt for the final three playoff spots and we hold our own destiny as we face 3 of the 4 other teams looking to slip into the playoffs.