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.