There are two major things I want to say about last night’s game, right up front. 1) We shone like diamonds, our teamwork was square on and we are finally a cohesive unit. Fuck yes. 2) This is the first time I’ve seen Larson #1 (G) in the net and if I’m not mistaken his debut game for us actually being in net and not backup and I’d just like to say, holy shit, bro. We’ve been hiding a gem. With two solid goalies like this, we’re golden.
That said, onward, upward, hurray! I think I’m getting better at this note-taking during a game thing with the exception of when my fingers start to get too cold and I seem incapable of writing actual words. Alas, part of the game I suppose. At least I didn’t have to rewrite my entire five pages of notes this time!
Starting lineup: Griffen Sanom #17 (LW), Emil Gabrielson #18 (C), Spencer Rudrud #7 (RW), Keegan Langefels #4 (D), Mitchell Becker #2 (D), Henrik Larson #1 (G). I admit, I may have winced at the beginning seeing it wasn’t Graziano in the net as I had no way of knowing what a shining star Larson would turn out to be. I’d never seen him actually play and knowing he was a rookie this year may have led me to some very faulty conclusions. I take every wince back and shall never judge a hockey player by their rookie status ever again, because holy freaking shit. He’s good. Real good.
Moving on from unabashed goalie praise, let’s get into the game. The crowd tonight was a little more silent than usual, odd for a basically sold out game, though I will say we had high school ID night, so perhaps it was just the more subdued high schoolers (yeah I just said that, lol) that led us into being so silent at first. The guy behind me said maybe it was because no one had fought yet and we had a good laugh at that, but you know, I think he may have been right because the crowd really picked up after the first ruckus on the ice. Who knows, maybe we are all just bloodthirsty at heart. Or maybe we were all as drained as me. (I’m coming down with a cold which I hadn’t realized at the time, but the flush in my cheeks and the half-night spent shaking say otherwise now. Grr.)
Last night was spent in as much awe as Friday night was. Passes were made to real players, we actually got to toy with the other team instead of them just playing with us, and we were working as a solid unit out there. It’s beautiful to watch hockey when it comes together like that. It was still scrappy and you could tell everyone was at one anothers throats from the get-go and honestly I think the Pilots held a burning fear in their hearts after Friday’s solid trouncing.
Penalties burned hot all night long on both sides, my solid count for the night holds Ice Wolves with 11 penalties and the Pilots with 10 penalties, though I think I may have somehow missed a few as I know for sure the announcer was confused as shit about the revolving door that was our glass houses of shame. I’m pretty sure the Pilots decided they were trying to beat us at something if not the game and they stuffed their box with three of their boys at the same time while we had two in ours. Add that to one penalty call for us that even the announcer had no idea what we were being penalized for and players looking confused on both sides and, well, sorry boys, we beat you on quantity of penalties, too. 😉
I would like to say this was the result of a fight that damn near included all of both teams in some way (sans goalies because whooo boy that is not a penalty a goalie wants!). Some major shit went down behind the net next to zone C and what started as one big clump of fight resulted in two fights being yanked apart by frantic refs. This being the third? fourth? fight of the night, I’m betting tensions were higher than any kite has ever been. Two boys got so far as to get gloves off before the refs stopped them from their scuffle. There were so many fights behind the refs backs that were all started and ended in the span of a few seconds, usually by one player leaving the other floundering on the ice and skating away. Straight up watched one of theirs yank one of our boys by the shirt and our boy trip him right back and then skate off. Twice things got heated in a corner far behind where the puck was and no one on the ice seemed to notice. All the better for fan-watching, I suppose!
Penalties seem softer for fights when there’s no blood drawn and no one slams the other to the ice and keeps on beating. (Lookin’ at you my first hockey fight!) The most anyone got was one of the Pilots with 4 minutes, 2 for roughing and 2 for unsportsmanlike conduct for starting it.
Our crowd heckler was back and versus the game before where he picked on #81 the entire game, he picked up on giving #6, the Pilot’s Captain as much shit as he could. My favorite of the night was “Hey Captain, does that C stand for C-team?” to which the entirety of Zone C cracked up. While some of the guy’s insults were a complete miss and I think he knew it, he found the occasional gem that no one could help but laugh at. He also yelled at one player about being off-sides and if he wanted to play for the Ice Wolves, all he had to do was ask, that one got us in stitched again. Keep coming to games, buddy, you’re making my writers life easy in the future!
Goals last night were beautiful. First period, 11:48 left on the clock, Philip Ekberg #9 sank our first one in on a power play with an assist from Keegan Langefels #4. The second came to us in the form of Spencer Rudrud #7 getting out of the penalty box and nearly immediately scoring a goal for us with only 21 seconds left on the clock. That one earned him every player in our box holding their hands out as he skated past and received high-fives. Part of me wishes I’d caught it on film, the other part thinks it was better to have actually seen it through something that wasn’t a 3.5″ screen.
In the second period we ran down the clock all the way to 5:16 left and Alex Gomez #74 slid one in for us, completely unassisted. By then the crowd had once again reached insane levels of cheering. (Another note on the crowd, it only took us until the third save by Larson #1 before everyone would clap every time he blocked a shot on goal. Bless that boy.)
We entered the third period with three points and the Pilots with a big fat zero on the scoreboard. Man it felt good for it to be them! Things got messy as the Pilots got desperate. They pulled their goalie to get an extra man on the field which proved to be their detriment as we sank another one in with 1:54 on the clock, Michael McCosh #10 doing the honors with Zack Frisk #26 with an assist. My camera caught this final moment of bliss before the batteries died and I’m so glad it saved it!
Two things happened after that I believe. I think the Pilots got desperate as shit and the Ice Wolves got cocky. The combination of both ended with two goals scored on us in the final 48 seconds of the game. The first came at 00:47:08 on the clock and the second with exactly 23 seconds left. Mr. Heckler Guy informed the Pilots “You’re welcome!” and for the final seconds of the game, the running joke became we gave them some goals to make them feel better. Thanks, Mr. Heckler Dude, you make sitting in Zone C worth every second!
Overall, we played a stunning game. Larson saved 40 of 42 shots on his goal in one night, we played like a damn team instead of a bunch of crazy-pants, and I think the boys are finally figuring out where they stand with one another. It’s beautiful and it’s a damn pleasure to watch. Stay gelled, boys!
(As usual, here’s some goalie love and some stretching love for Topeka.)