7/1/07 vs. Gang Green (5-7-0)
Coming into the final game of the season, playoff spots were still up for grabs as 6 teams were still vying for 4 spots. With last weeks’ win, we had the inside track on one of those spots, but a win versus Gang Green would secure it once and for all. Aiding us in our quest would be the return of our second leading scorer, Alexey, from his broken thumb. His added offense could be the key to spur us on to victory.
Early on, Gang Green had the better of the chances, but Josh was equal to the task as he made numerous saves to keep the game scoreless. His best save came on a 2-on-0 where he stopped the first shot off his shoulder and swatted away the rebound to the corner to prevent an early score. As the period moved on, we began to find our offense and with just a little over 6 minutes remaining, Ed made a nice pass back to Bob who fired a slap shot on net that the goalie could not control and Ed was there to pound the rebound home to give us the critical 1-0 lead. The remainder of the period was back and forth, as both teams had scoring chances, but neither could find the net again.
The second period began as the first one ended with end to end action and each team getting quality scoring chances. Gang Green had several odd man rushes, but were foiled time and time again as either the defense would step up and break up a play or Josh would make another huge save. Finally, again with just over 6 minutes left in the period, Paul and Alexey made a rush up ice 2-on-1. Paul made a beautiful behind the back pass to Alexey who fired it into the very open net for our second goal. Just a minute later, Tom S. found the back of the net off a feed from Tom N. to increase the lead to three with 5 minutes to play. The way we were playing, a three-goal lead would be difficult for Gang Green to overcome, but not impossible.
During the break, we talked about playing smart, getting the puck deep, not being caught up ice and how big the next goal would be. No sooner did we finish talking about the next goal, than did we go out and put the game away. :24 seconds into the period, Paul drew the face off win over to Joe who passed it back to him. He carried the puck into the zone and dropped it to Alexey, who found the net for a second time and essentially put the game out of reach. A few moments later, Paul broke in alone, made a nice move and shot the puck, which glanced off the goalie, over his shoulder and into the net to increase the lead to five and the rout was on. Four minutes later, Doug found the net off a great feed from Tom N to make it a six-goal lead. However, off the ensuing face off, the Gang Green winger broke down the left wing and made a quick pass across the front of the net to the open man who redirected the puck between Josh’s legs to break the shutout bid with less than six minutes remaining. Bob made a great effort to try to get back, but was just a second too late and our lead was cut back to five. That did not last very long as Alexey rifled his third goal of the game through the five hole less than 2 minutes later to get our lead back to six. Moments later, with victory firmly within our grasp, Tom S. took off on another breakaway, his third of the game, and hit his third post of the game. Nevertheless, with forty seconds to go, a puck deflected right to him, off his stick and trickled into the net for our eighth and final goal, sending us into the playoffs on a 3-game winning streak and putting us in a good position for the 5th or 6th seed.
Everyone showed up to play in this important game, particularly Alexey (3g), Paul (1g, 3a), Tom S. (2g), even though he also hit two goalposts and one crossbar, and Josh, who made countless big saves early and throughout the game. Even though we won’t get Chuck back before the end of this season, this win got us primed for the playoffs and ready to do battle with any team we’re up against.
Final Score: 8-1 (7-5-2)
Next week we begin the playoff journey against a team to be decided.