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.