7/8/07 vs. Maple Leaf Pub (7-4-3)
After concluding the season by playing three nearly flawless games to wind up as the fifth seed, we were about to face off against a Maple Leaf Pub team that finished just one point ahead of us in the standings. We didn’t have much of a history against this team, other than our come from behind tie earlier in the season in which Paul collected two goals and his brother Adam, in his only appearance, scored a shorthanded goal. We were also without some of our offensive threats, as Tom N., Tom S., Alexey, and Chuck were unavailable for this game. We still had firepower though and we expected this to be a hard fought game. It did not disappoint.
After trading a few offensive chances early in the first period, a rolling puck came to Josh who played it just to the left of the goal. It caromed off a leg however across the slot and stuck on the still wet ice. One of the Pub forwards picked it up and quickly tucked it behind Josh to give them an early 1-0 lead. While this wasn’t an ideal start, there was still plenty of time left and we were producing offense, so we weren’t too concerned. The play continued back and forth, each team earning chances, but both goalies were quick to stop everything coming their way to keep it to a 1-0 score at the end of the period.
We knew the next goal in period two would be big and without too much time wasted, Ed rifled a pass to Ike, who was alone in front and knocked home a one-timer to knot the game at one. Just minutes later, Josh made a clearing pass to Joe, who knocked it down and fed Paul breaking through center. He cut into the zone and put a shot on goal, followed his rebound and after banging at it a couple times, finally pushed it to the back of the cage to give us our first lead of the night. Ed attempted to continue the offense with a couple of breakaway attempts that he just couldn’t finish on and a slap shot from just inside the blue line that dinged the left post. The Pub team didn’t relent either, firing shots on Josh and making the defense work hard in their own zone. Finally, with just over a minute remaining in the period, a slap shot from the point, bounced off Josh and out just below the left circle. The puck was rolling away from him and the man in front took a backhanded swipe and connected with it to knock it over Josh’s shoulder and into the net to knot the game back up.
The third period was no different from the first two, with each team gaining numerous offensive chances, but unable to get the puck by the goalies. We killed off a couple of penalties and continued to get opportunities, just missing every time. With about four minutes remaining, as a scrum ensued in front of our net because the puck was underneath Bob, but one of the Pub players dug it out and fired into the top corner of net, to give them a late lead. About a minute later however, we were given a golden opportunity as one of the Pub players was called for a penalty, giving us a two-minute power play with only 2:39 to play. At this point, Coach called a timeout and assembled the troops, putting Ed, Paul & Lenny out on the power play unit, with Bob and Keith back on defense. We controlled a good portion of the play in their zone, but they cleared the puck a couple of times down the ice. Josh however, jumped on each one, getting it back up the ice quickly to keep the pressure on. With just over a minute to go and Josh getting ready to go to the bench for the extra attacker, Paul made a last rush into the zone, breaking through the defenders and beating the goalie top-shelf to the glove side to knot the game at three on the power play! In addition to the goal, during Paul’s rush, a holding penalty was called, which meant we would go back on the power play for another two minutes. Despite our advantage, we could not finish this game in regulation, so on we went to a 5-minute, sudden-death overtime.
Entering OT with the man advantage could’ve been the potential difference, but we were unable to capitalize as they returned to full strength. Each shot had greater importance and the intensity and stress level grew with each shift. Both teams found opportunities to end the game, but again, both goalies had thrown up a wall to keep the game tied. At the end of the 5-minute OT session, a shootout would be needed to decide this contest.
We decided on Lenny, Paul and Ed to be our shooters and we would be shooting first. Josh let the shooters know that the other goalie liked to use the surprise poke-check and to be careful coming in on him.
Lenny shot first, coming hard down the center and just as Josh had predicted, the goalie used the poke-check and knocked the puck away.
The Pub shooter came down towards Josh just to the right of center, drifting more towards the middle the closer he got. As he got right in front of Josh, he cut sharply back to the right, but Josh’s pad shut down the lane and he shot wide, leaving both teams scoreless after round 1.
Paul was up next and moved in down the left side, crossing to the right, but the puck jumped off his stick and he didn’t get a quality shot off.
Their second shooter came in again, just right of center, but moved across to Josh’s left, trying to get him out of position, but just before he went to shoot, the puck jumped off his stick, just as it did to Paul and the puck rolled to Josh to keep the shootout scoreless again after round 2.
Ed was our next shooter, gliding down the ice towards the goal. He cut to the right and got the goalie down, but couldn’t lift the puck over him and into the empty goal to give us a lead and left us hoping for another big save from Josh.
As the Pub shooter moved in, Josh charged out to the hash marks, slowly backing up as he approached. When Josh reached the top of the crease, the shooter fired a shot that went low, between Josh’s legs and into the net to give the Maple Leaf Pub the deciding goal in the shootout, moving them on to the next round and eliminating us from this year’s playoffs.
Final Score: 3-4 (SO)
After battling back in this game, losing in the shootout was heartbreaking, but after an up and down regular season, we ended it playing our best hockey.
Next week, our game time and team to be played are TBD, but will be posted as soon as it is known.
Check out the new pics from Week 14.
Stats from this game will be updated when the scoresheet is turned in.