Both the Devil and da Boy played today.
She had her last regular season game, which meant little in terms of final standings, but quite a bit in the general scheme of things as they played their closest rival, who are coincidentally expected to also be playing in the first round of the playoffs. I joked before the game started that the girls needed to “set the tone for the playoffs” with a win. And a tone was certainly set before the game ended, but not quite the way anyone expected. The girls started strong and really took the play to the other team. A good majority of the play occurred in the opponent’s end of the ice. The Devil herself had several scoring chances in the match, though she failed to put one past the other team’s keeper who was solid between the pipes. The Sharks did, however, manage to open the scoring in the second period and held a one goal lead for most of the rest of the frame. The other team would knot the score at one. But our side was relentless today and managed to pull ahead as one of our forwards managed to put a rebound in the back of the net through sheer determination.
And then the otherwise typical game got interesting. With about five minutes left in the third period, there was a relatively lengthy battle on the boards between one of the Sharks’ forwards and an opposing defender. Having lost the puck challenge, the frustrated defender decided to thrust her glove into the mask of our player. Not backing down, our player shoved back and from there it got a little ugly. Keep in mind, these are 13 year old girls. A couple of punches were thrown by both combatants, but did not really land. Then, as our player, attempted to back out of the situation, the rival defender threw a straight right that knocked her to the frozen surface. The referees quickly interceded. The shocked forward made her way to the penalty box, while the one who delivered the extra punch was sent to the change room. Our player received a two-minute roughing penalty, while the other was likewise assessed a two-minute minor, along with a five minute fighting major penalty and a match penalty. A match penalty means she could end up missing up to four games; four games presumably against the Sharks in the playoffs which start in a couple of weeks or less. Not too often we get to see punches thrown in girls hockey.
The end result of all the hubbub was a lengthy delay in the game and a four on three situation for the Sharks. Our girls would come away with a 2-1 victory as the ice time allotted ran out (the game was curfewed). The stage has certainly been set for an upcoming playoff series with this very same rival.
Hockey mom and I hustled back home to pick up the Boy to bring him back to the rink for game one of his new regional playoff series. As chance would have it, this series is to be played against the same team the regular season ended against; a team who went winless during the entire season; a team who our boys defeated by a combined score of 33-3 in the final three games of the year. Suffice it to say, this is not expected to be a pretty round. But these games do need to be played. The Boy opened the scoring tonight with a laser beam goal over the right arm of the goalie. He added a second a few minutes later; only this time over the other shoulder and from a little closer in. The rout was on.
Entering the third period, the coach decided to do a little tweaking of his bench; moving one of his defencemen up to left wing on a line with the Boy and another forward. A few minutes into the final frame and at the beginning of a shift, the Boy fed a nice pass to his new winger who fired a shot through the opposing keeper, who to that point had played a pretty solid game in front of his shaky teammates. The Boy’s line stayed on the ice. Within a few seconds of the ensuing face off they were back in the offensive zone. The Boy fed his defenceman-turned-winger another puck in front of the net, which he quickly deposited in the back of it. Two goals in one shift is pretty impressive. But they weren’t done. Another face-off at centre resulted in another surge into the visiting team’s end. I quickly commented to the defenceman’s father in the stands that his son could get a hat trick in a shift, which would in turn prompt me to launch my ball cap onto the ice below. The Boy fed his line mate another pass in close which was turned away by a quick leg save. But the other winger, picked up the rebound, circled the net and again snuck the puck over to the erstwhile defenceman. On cue, he deposited his third goal of the two-minute shift neatly behind the other team’s goaltender. Within moments, my “Hockey Dad” chapeau was hurling through the crisp arena air in celebration of the rare feat. It was nice to have a highlight in an otherwise lacklustre match which ended with our boys on top 10-0.
Post-game, the defenceman’s father, who helps during practices and played competitive hockey when he was younger, was ribbed by the team who said his son scored more goals in one shift than he scored in his career. He, of course, shot back claiming he scored at least four goals one season as he was considered more of a defensive, enforcer type of player. It all made for some good laughs following the disappointing loss the team suffered earlier in the week.
The boys are in another six-point series, meaning there are at least two more similar games on tap for tomorrow and later this week. My hat may find the ice yet again, though only as a result of something at least as spectacular as three markers in a shift.
Our girls are expected to be fired up, finishing fourth overall in their 10-team league and getting ready to face their closest fifth-place rival both geographically and competitively. I believe every one of their five or six games this year has been a one goal affair. This trend will likely continue.
We hope the same fire can be summoned by the Boy and his mates in the next round, who cannot be faulted for becoming lackadaisical against questionable competition. Management is actually looking to find a last minute tournament to enter as a tougher warm-up for the next series; a series which will certainly provide a greater challenge than the one they currently face.
Time will naturally tell what the fortunes of these two teams hold. And I’m sure each game from here on in will have its share of highlights.