Last night was a great game from the very start. First I’d like to say that my cheeks hurt from smiling so much. The Ice Wolves brought down their A-game from the very first second and it was like watching the team we all knew they could be and I can only hope they keep it together like this!
Technically-speaking the Ice Wolves were bottom of our division and if I’m not mistaken the Pilots arrived in Albuquerque at the very top of it. #1 vs #7 in the South division. If I’m being honest, I expected a solid trouncing, but that’s not at all what happened. In fact, I’d like to say we brought the beat-down upon the Pilots and I can only imagine the reaming their Coach must have given them afterward despite their game being pretty damn on point, too. It couldn’t have felt good for them, though it felt fucking amazing for us!
Our starting lineup was Griffen Sanom #17 LW, Spencer Rudrud #7 RW, Emil Gabrielson #18, Keegan Langefels #4, Max Tobin #2, Josh Graziano #43 G. (I could be wrong on Max, I didn’t see him on the game notes paper but it’s what I had written down in my notebook, so apologies if I’m wrong there!) I decided to do a thing and track our lineup changes for the first few times, but I won’t give them away here. Mostly it was more information for my hockey-absorbing mind and let’s say my notebook is filled with half-intelligible scribbles at the moment that definitely need some help!
We spent the entire first period completely on point. Our passes were made to actual players instead of thin air as we’ve been seeing in the past. It seems everyone stepped up last night and boy did it show! We ended the first with nothing on the scoreboard on either side and it was only 26 seconds into the second period when Griffen Sanom #17 (F) scored our first goal! We came out of the gates flying!
It took the Pilots until there was 8:35 left on the second period clock to bring in their only goal for the evening, sent in by Quinn Green #9 (F). After that I took note that our team has certainly stepped up their defense in regards to actually helping Josh Graziano #43 (G) protect the net. There was at least one point where our boys formed an impenetrable wall between the Pilots and Graziano. Makes me wonder who had the ‘come to Jesus’ talk with the boys about helping him defend and not wearing him out on game one of two in a row. Whoever did it certainly did their job as our boys were out there in full-force, doing what they should be!
We ended the second period, tied 1:1 and the instant the boys hit the ice for the third period the crowd went from sparse cheering to full-blown hellish. One guy in zone C continued to heckle #81 of the Pilots. Perhaps he had a grudge or perhaps he really was banging the guy’s girlfriend, who knows (he was yelling “Scotty doesn’t know” – Eurotrip reference anyone? – and “number eighty-one, you suck!” repeatedly). There were multiple yells at the refs about not calling things despite the multiple calls of roughing and unsportsmanlike conduct that ended up on the boards, though we did manage in most cases to keep our penalties on the lower side in comparison to the Pilots. Impressive given our history in this regard. Overall they went from a crowd of people clapping at saves and goals to a crowd that was screaming at the top of their lungs, chanting with enthusiasm, and basically begging our boys to win us one on home ice.
Which they did with 11:17 left on the clock in the third period. Jackson Wille #23 (F) tucked one home with an assist from Drew Lorinchak #20 (F) and it was gloriously beautiful. It lefts fans (myself included) on our feet longer than usual, antsy and unable to sit down. Given my front row seats, I had to tell myself to sit back down and be nice to those behind me after a good thirty seconds of being completely unable to sit my rear down due to how overwhelmingly happy I was. The cheers were deafening.
Nearing the end of the third, the Pilots pulled their Goalie in an attempt to get some payback in the form of another person on the ice. They tried but we fought them like our lives depended on it and it paid off because by the time the clock reached 0:00 we were had won 2:1, our first home ice win. People screamed, a few remaining foam wolves were thrown on the ice, and the crowd began hugging the people around them in excitement. I must admit, I may have cried a little in my excitement. I one hundred percent could not stop grinning as the boys lined up for us and later, watching the video the Ice Wolves posted of them leaving the ice left me feeling that special feeling all over again, seeing all of them grinning just as hard.
Fingers crossed we bring it just as hard tonight. I want to see more games like that from us. Watching hockey should always have my hands shaking, my heart racing, and my cheeks hurting from grinning too hard.
This is the game we’ve had in us from the start and here’s to many more. ❤