Game Recap Week 4

8/20/07 vs. Enforcers (2-1-0)

After our big win last week vs. the Puckhawgs, we were ready to go at it again with one of our divisions’ top teams. The key to this game would be generating shots on goal, as the Enforcers goalie can be very weak at times and gets easily frustrated upon being scored. We also had to deal with a small wrinkle in the first period, as the game clock wouldn’t work. So we used the curfew clock on a run-time basis until the scorekeeper got the scoreboard working again.

Early in the first period, we controlled the play, keeping the puck in the Enforcers end of the rink for almost the entire first shift. Our second shift found Ross, Marc and Alexey continuing the good forecheck, keeping the puck in the zone a couple of times at the blue line, preventing them from starting any offensive rush. Finally, Alexey intercepted a clearing pass just inside the blue line, skated in along the left wing, cut across the goal mouth and slid the puck into the net to give us the early lead, about 2 minutes into the game. After the ensuing faceoff, the Enforcers finally were able to move the puck into our zone and generate a little offense. Their best chance turned into the play of the game, as Josh came out to play a loose puck at the bottom of the right circle, he mishandled it and turned it right over to their player. With the net wide open, Lyle stepped in and used his stick to not only block the shot and prevent a certain goal, but also to clear the puck out of the zone. Once the puck was out of the zone, eventually Joe got a hold of it, made a sweet move by the defenseman and left a drop pass to Ross, who took just a moment before firing a wrist shot into the far corner of the net to up our lead to 2, less than 4 minutes in. On the very next shift, just moments after that goal, Ed, Lenny and Doug were at it again as Keith fired a shot from the point, Lenny collected the rebound, got a shot away and then as a scramble in front ensued, Ed promptly buried it in the back of the net. At this point, the Enforcers were stunned by being down 3-0 so early in the game, but did not wilt. However, two shifts later, Ross fed Doug with a perfect pass and he broke into the zone and fired a shot from just inside the blue line that found a hole and increased our lead to four. With the clock now fixed halfway through the first period and us sporting a 4-goal cushion, we intended to keep the pressure on and bury this team. With just over 5 minutes remaining, Marc and Ed combined on a pass play that fed Alexey, who tapped in his second of the night to up our lead one more time. Although our scoring binge was stopped there, we continued to pressure the Enforcers the remainder of the period, causing turnovers and all-around careless play. In the meantime, Josh was waiting at the other end for his turn to step up and get in on the action. He did make a couple of key saves in the opening period, but the threats were limited and most of the shots he saw he gobbled up with ease. He didn’t have to wait much longer to take control of the game though.

The second period began with the Enforcers picking up their intensity, realizing they weren’t entirely out of this game with two periods to play. They worked the puck in deep, fired numerous shots on goal and crashed hard for rebounds. With just over 3 minutes gone, the Enforcers were called for a high sticking penalty, but just 30 seconds later, we returned the favor as Bob got called for roughing. The 4-on-4 play was mostly concentrated in our zone, as we were having difficulty clearing the puck. On the positive side however, Lyle, Doc and Keith were blocking a lot of shots from the outside keeping things away from our own net. After those penalties expired, the Enforcers really turned the heat up, keeping us pinned in our zone for long stretches and shooting from all angles. Josh was equal to the task though as he stopped everything thrown at him. The save of the night came on a scramble in front with about 8 minutes remaining in the period. Two shots from the right side of the goal produced a rebound that was sitting just at the top of the crease, on the left side, where the net was wide open. The Enforcers player was able to take a good shot at the puck, but Josh threw his catching glove out and robbed him of a sure goal. It happened so fast, the referee didn’t even know where the puck went. Moments after that play, we were able to clear the puck out and Ike was racing after it on the left wing, but got his stick tied up with their defenseman, causing him to hook him to the ground, dropping us a man down once more. Again, the Enforcers turned on the pressure, this time hitting the outside of the post, just barely missing a goal. Despite the Enforcers best efforts, even their skilled deflections kept finding Josh’s equipment for him to make the stop. As the second period wore on, not allowing them to score began to deflate the Enforcers resolve and with just over 2 minutes left, we were put back on the power play. However, we turned the puck over in their zone right at the blue line, causing a 2-on-1 bearing down on Josh. Ed came rushing back to break up the play without a shot ever being fired, but was called for interference, evening up the teams once again. The second period ended with us continuing to lead 5-0, but not without an outstanding effort from everyone in the defensive end.

The third period began with Ed finishing his penalty and the Enforcers continuing to pepper Josh with shots, many of them harmless however. Finally, at the 3:42 mark, the Enforcers broke through the wall, as Josh could not see a shot from the right circle as it fluttered past him and into the net. The goal seemed to lift the Enforcers up once again and began to press our defense. They began firing shots from everywhere again and were able to cycle the puck a few times in the corners and out to their defensemen on the points for shots. Yet again, the defense stepped up and blocked a handful of shots and whatever they didn’t block was easily eaten up by Josh. We also produced some more offense as well, however our scoring was finished for the night as their goalie began to shut us down, making a few key saves to keep them in the game. Conversely, Josh, the defensemen and all the great back checking from the forwards completely neutralized their attack as we cruised on to victory in this hard fought game.

Final Score: 5-1 (3-1-0)

Up next, we have a 2-week hiatus as the rink is closed next week and the following week is Labor Day weekend. We return with a 4:15 game against the Rangers on 9/9 to complete the first round of divisional play.

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Game Recap Week 3

8/12/07 vs Puckhawgs (1-0-1)

Our game in week 3 pitted us against the defending champion Puckhawgs and while we don’t have a very good history against them, we have played them tough almost every game and this game was no different.

Starting the first period, we controlled the play in their zone for the first few moments, gaining a couple of good scoring chances, but unable finish any of them off. As the play shifted into our own zone, one of their players danced through our defense, eventually ending up just to the right of the net. As he fired it across the crease, it caught the inside of Josh’s left skate and banked into the goal to give them a 1-0 lead, just 1:32 in. Despite falling behind early, we continued to pressure the Puckhawgs in their own zone, shooting from all angles, but continuing to be denied by the goalie. We even had a few power play opportunities, but again, could not find the net. Eventually, Doug stole a breakout pass at their blue line, skated down through the left circle and made a perfect pass to the front of the net where Paul was gliding in on his backhand to tip it home and knot the game at one with less than five minutes to go in the first period. Just a little more than a minute later, with Lenny in the box for a hook and Dom in there for an illegal check, Tom N. and Ike took off on a 2-on-1. Tom carried the puck in, passed it to Ike, whose shot from just inside the right hash mark was stopped, but the rebound came back over to Tom and he popped it into the net to give us our first lead of the night. We finished killing of the penalties and the rest of the period without any further damages to either side on the scoreboard and entered the second period brimming with confidence.

The second period continued to be close checking and each team’s defense and goalies were shutting the others’ offensive chances down. Nevertheless, at the 6:47 mark, with Tom N. in the box for slashing, a Puckhawgs defenseman found the net on a long shot from the point on the power play to knot the game at two. Not to be outdone though, Doug and Ed teamed up with Alexey, who put us back in the lead three minutes later. The penalty parade also continued throughout the second period as both teams put themselves shorthanded a few times. None of those chances were converted though and we completed two period still clinging to a one-goal lead.

The third period would prove to be as tough as the first two, with each team playing tight defense and not allowing many chances. Despite taking two early penalties, the Puckhawgs power play could not mount enough offense to break through and tie the game again. They were able to finally score their goal halfway through the period while playing shorthanded. Immediately after a face-off in the neutral zone, the Hawgs player sliced through our defense, firing a shot that Josh saved initially, but the rebound went right back onto his stick and the shooter quickly punched it into the net to bring the game back to even. The game looked as though it might slip away yet with just under three minutes go as Tom N. took a high sticking penalty that was questionable. He pleaded with the ref because he had interfered with Tom’s progress, causing him to lose his balance, which then caused the high stick. His plea was not taken well and he was given an additional two minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct and a 10-minute misconduct, which put him out for the remainder of the game. After some intense pressure from the Puckhawgs, a face-off to the right of Josh was won by Paul directly back to Joe on defense. He skated up the left wing boards, chipping it by the defenseman and making a rush up the ice. After he had beaten the defenseman, there was only the goalie left to beat. With Paul skating just behind him on a 2-on-0, he made a quick fake to the left, pulling the puck back to the right and going backhanded into the upper corner of the goal to give us a 4-3 lead with one minute left to play. Again, after more pressure from the Puckhawgs, who pulled their goalie for an extra attacker, a face off to the right came over to Alexey who fired it the length of the ice, just grazing the outside of the net. Paul had raced down the ice to collect the loose puck and with :10 seconds left, slipped it into the empty goal to seal the victory.

Final score: 5-3 (2-1-0)

Next up, a Monday night matchup with the Enforcers.

Game Recap Week 2

8/5/07 vs. Black Jacks (0-0-1)

Coming off a nice win to start the season, we needed to keep up the solid defensive play and timely scoring. The Black Jacks were coming off a tie with the defending champs, the Puckhawgs and were looking to get into the win column against us.

This game began with us controlling play for the first few minutes, but we were unable to capitalize and find the net to take an early lead. However, at the 8:53 mark, a clear-cut breakaway, finished off with a great fake to pull Josh out of position gave the Black Jacks the lead. Then, just :32 seconds later, a rebound came out to the right of goal and was fired into the far corner to drop us two goals down before we could regain our momentum. Fortunately, we pulled it together and less than two minutes later; Tom N. took off down the left wing, into the offensive zone and behind the net. He continued on, circling around and throwing a pass out to the slot where Lenny was waiting to wrist home our first goal to get us right back in the game. Each team had their chances to score during the remainder of the period but could not convert, ultimately ending with us down by the score of 2-1.

As the second period began, we knew an early goal would certainly be helpful in regaining some momentum; however, just 4 minutes in, on a bad call, Keith was penalized for high-sticking. On the ensuing power play, just :40 seconds in, after a scramble in front, a rebound was converted to put the Black Jacks up by two goals again. A minute and a half later, they continued to pound us with their offensive assault and after a long point shot was deflected and bounced off Josh, the rebound was promptly stuffed into the open net to increase their lead to 4-1. The next goal could potentially be huge as another Black Jack goal would certainly put the nail in the coffin, but if we could put one in, with over half a game remaining, we may find some much needed life. With about 6 minutes remaining, Doug made a fantastic clearing pass to a wide-open Alexey, who was behind the defense. He rifled a slap shot from the top of the right circle over the goalie’s shoulder, but just under the crossbar, to give us a spark and bring us to within two goals once again. Our jubilation was very short-lived however, as this game began to take a dramatic turn for the worse. Less than :30 seconds after we scored, the Black Jacks scored again on a shot from just inside the blue line. The problem however, was that a Black Jack player was clearly offside when the puck carrier came into the zone and let his shot go. Everyone argued the call, from the players on the ice, to those on the bench, but to no avail as the refs would not change their thinking, giving the 3-goal lead back. The remainder of the second period was fraught with arguments with the referees over calls being made, or not made. Finally, with just over 2 minutes remaining in the period, Paul was streaking down the right side when the defenseman intentionally checked and knocked him down. Unfortunately, Paul’s frustration with the refs showed when he retaliated with a slash and a penalty of his own. We did gain the man advantage :25 seconds later though as one of their players was called for interference along the boards, but, we weren’t able to benefit from on the power play, ending the period down by three goals.

As we did in the second period, we would need an early goal in the third to get back into the game; yet the referees had it out for us this day as Keith was called for another bogus high-sticking infraction and Paul was called for an unsportsmanlike conduct. On this occasion however, down two men, Ed had other plans as he stole the puck at our blue line, raced down the right wing and pumped a shot into the far corner to bring us back to within 2 goals with more than 11 minutes remaining. We killed off the remainder of the penalties only to have a double minor called against Paul for almost immediately after his other penalty expired. The rest of the period was spent killing off that situation, which wasn’t affording us an opportunity to get ourselves within a goal and by the end of the game, we had spent all of our energy arguing the poor quality of refereeing.

Final Score: 3-5 (1-1-0)

Next week, the Puckhawgs in a primetime battle on Sunday afternoon.