7/29/07 vs. Buzzards (0-0-0)
With the start of a new season upon us, there are some new issues to tackle, such as a new schedule and playoff format, and a new rule to adjust to, no two-line passes. This could aid our offense with some of our breakouts and bring Josh’s passing ability into the fold even more.
The new schedule set up divides the league into two divisions, where each team plays its own division two times and four teams from the other division once. It will make each divisional game that much more important, as all the teams will make the playoffs, but winning every possible game will still be crucial for the standings.
Starting our season, we would be pitted against our new divisional rivals, the Buzzards. While we have a winning history against them, with two shutouts, they always play us tough and recently, they’ve upgraded their offense with some more firepower to make our games even closer.
The Buzzards looked to strike early in the contest, but were kept at bay, as many of their shots were not finding the net. However, less than 5 minutes in, with Lyle in the penalty box, a slap shot from just inside the blue line found the net as the shooter used the defenseman as a screen and Josh had little time to react. Our offense seemed to get a jump though as we controlled the play for the next few moments and as Joe made a clearing pass, Paul picked it up along the left wing and with Tom S. cruising down the middle, they raced in 2-on-1. Paul deftly drew the defenseman over to his side and made a beautiful pass across to the front of the net where Tom tapped it under the goalies outstretched pad to tie the game at one, just two and a half minutes later. The play continued up and down the ice for the remainder of the period with each team collecting opportunities and trading power plays as well. However, with seconds left on the clock, a scramble in front of Josh led to a rebound the was just far enough out of his reach for the Buzzards’ forward to slip a back hand into the open corner, to give them the lead back at the end of the first.
The second period started with a flurry in the Buzzards’ zone, with Tom S. sending the puck out to the front of the net and after a scramble, Paul put the puck away to knot the game at two, just :18 seconds in. Our lead was short lived however, as less than 3 minutes later, a Buzzards player was cruising down the right side, eventually throwing the puck towards the front from behind the goal line. Josh attempted to block the pass with the paddle of his stick, which he did, however, it deflected towards him, off his mask and into the goal to give the lead right back. Not wasting any time though, :24 seconds later, Ed took off on a 2-on-1 with Lenny down the left wing, drawing the defensemen over, he made the cross-ice pass and Lenny fired home the one-timer to tie the game once again. But again, the Buzzards’ stormed right back :39 seconds later to regain the lead when their defensemen stepped in from the right point, skated across the slot and fired a laser over Josh’s shoulder, just under the crossbar on the short side. The back and forth pace of the second period continued and two minutes later, on the power play, Marc fed Tom N. at the point, who fired a slap shot towards the goal that Doug was able to deflect by the goalie to bring us even once again. The scoring finally ceased for the remainder of the period, but the action did not, as both teams continued to apply pressure and create scoring opportunities.
The third period brought much of the same in terms of offense, as both teams persisted in their quest to recapture the lead and hold on for the victory. Midway through the period, Tom N. took a tripping penalty that we successfully killed off and our reward was a power play opportunity of our own with less than 5 minutes to play. For most of the man advantage, we were able to move the puck around and hold significant pressure down in the Buzzards zone. With :04 seconds remaining in the power play though, the puck finally found Paul alone in the slot and he rifled a wrist shot off the inside of the post and into the net to give us our first lead of the night, with 2:49 remaining in the game. The Buzzards did not fold though and intensified their pressure, pulling the goalie for the last :45 seconds. They had numerous chances, ringing a point-blank shot off the outside of the post with :20 seconds to play. Josh also made a couple of crucial saves, one with his jaw, just before getting steamrolled by one the Buzzards’ forwards, knocking him into the net, stopping play with 2.3 seconds left, all but locking up the come from behind (numerous times) victory.
This was a tough, tough game, but a great win to start the season off on the right skate and giving us an early advantage in our own division.
Final Score: 5-4 (1-0-0)
Next week, we face the Black Jacks in another important divisional matchup.