WEDNESDAY JANUARY 10th 2018
Brand new year, brand new season, brand new rosters. Ready, set, and GO! Chris Sampson was making his return as a Captain for the Hurricanes and his team was going up against the Tony Casella’s Thunder. Both teams had all hands on deck yet they fell into a cautious mindset as the game began, resulting in tentative play that led to more than thirteen scoreless minutes. YAWN! Darcy Edwards broke the spell when he finished off a nice play by Colin Waugh from right on the doorstep and he added a second goal on his next shift thanks to a slick setup from Tony. The Canes made a strong push to get on the scoreboard late in the frame but Colin Waugh took a feed from Todd Keddy after a broken play and fired the ball past Dan Nauss to give the dark side a 3-0 lead before the break.
Lots of time for a comeback rally, right? Absolutely, but that would require scoring some goals … and THAT would require beating Mike DeGrace. Things took a turn for the worse when John Doyle was handed two minutes for interference but the Hurricanes came up big on the PK and killed it off. The Canes kept on attacking and had plenty of decent chances but found no success. Mike came up with a bunch of big saves to protect the lead and more than twelve scoreless minutes fell away as the Hurricanes continued to rack up a slew of near-misses. Colin sent a lead pass to Anil Snook and he fired it home to make it a 4-0 Thunder lead. Mitch won a battle for a loose ball on the following shift and flicked it ahead to Tony, who buried his chance with a great deke on a breakaway to make it 5-0 with just over five minutes left. Colin scored again on a setup from Anil, leaving Mike’s shutout bid as the only thing in doubt. Sean Fitzgerald came flying off the bench in the dying seconds and ripped a centering pass over DeGrace’s trapper, referee Ryan Milligan waved off the goal because it came half a second too late, and Mike’s perfect save percentage crippled the Ballstar website. Excellent!
Next up was Blizzard versus Cyclones. Bobby Zwicker was subbing in for Marty Kane in the Cyclones’ net, Gian Scalet was absent for the Blizz, and it wasn’t long before the scoresheet started to get peppered with a lot of scoring details. Eddie Kell headed to the front of the net and fired in a great centering feed from Gord Caines, but Korri Gorman buried a sweet feed from Captain Jordan Castilloux moments later to knot the score at one apiece just before the four-minute mark. The two teams battled back and forth for nearly ten scoreless minutes until Gord ripped in a great setup from Dave Brent. Gord scored again sixteen seconds later on a feed from Steve Rievaj to make it 3-1 but crafty vet Gill Mombourquette hooked up Matt Monk for a goal on the next shift, which trimmed the deficit to just one goal. Captain Dwayne Blanchard rifled home an unassisted gem from thirty feet out as play continued to restore the two-goal lead and Eddie finished off a play from Dwayne in the final minute to make it a 5-2 Blizzard lead before halftime.
Gord buried a feed from Dwayne for his hat-trick goal early in the final frame but then Brent got sent to the penalty box on a tripping penalty and Kevin Shute, AKA the green bin, swatted in a powerplay goal to cut the deficit to 6-3 with more than fifteen minutes left to play. But then Dwayne knocked in a pass from Ryan Milligan, and Gord scored his fourth on a pass from Dwayne moments later to push the lead to five with about twelve minutes left. Korri rifled home a nice pass from Monk moments later but Dwayne took a great pass from Brent on the next shift and completed his hat trick when he put a spinning shot over Bobby’s blocker. Milligan backhanded an east-west feed from Dwayne into the net on the next shift, making it 10-4 for the blue crew with about seven minutes left, and the writing was on the wall. Dwayne scored his fourth on a setup from Brent, Korri buried a feed from Gill moments later to complete a hat trick of his own, Milligan scored again with less than twenty seconds left, and the Blizzard cruised to a 12-5 win.
Last bout of the night saw a full Lightning squad go up against the Tornados, who were without Louis Brill and Blain Sullivan. Dan Nauss filled in for Jason Boudreau between the pipes in the orange net. After the game got underway, both teams tried to be patient and maintain possession in hopes of creating better scoring opportunities. The biggest problem with that turned out to be maintaining possession long enough to generate quality scoring chances. Captain Kenny White started making lineup adjustments early on, initially due to the late arrival of Chris Steeves, but eventually he started experimenting with different looks to see if he could find something that would click. This ultimately may have caused more confusion for the Lightning than it did for the Tornados, but there were a lot of broken plays and very few good scoring chances as both teams did their best to take away space and apply pressure when their opponent had the ball. This scoreless mess went on for over fifteen minutes, the drought finally ending when Scott Cross ripped an east-west feed by Steeves past Nauss from the point. Tornado Captain Alex McLeod evened it at 1-1 when he took a pass from Matt Strum and fired a point blast past a scrum in front of the net. Paul Highmore was screened on the play and had no time to react as the ball sailed over his shoulder into the top corner. Cross struck again late in the frame, jamming the ball under Dan from close quarters to restore the Lightning lead with only four seconds left on the clock.
The Bolts made another lineup shuffle before the final period started, and the first new line looked pretty good when play resumed. But the second line looked a little bit lost out there and the Tors took notice. The second time they faced that line, they dominated. Alex finished off a play from Woody Gouthro just past the five-minute mark, tying the game at two apiece. More lineup shuffles ensued and the changes seemed to work, but the Tornados took the lead just before the midway mark of the period when Adam Fancy buried a setup from Strum, and Matt Nelson made it 4-2 on the next shift by heading to the net and finishing off a play from the doorstep. At the other end, Dan was coming up with a lot of big saves, including a breakaway by Cross and a pair of high shots from Alex Taul and Bruce Hudson. The Lightning seemed on the verge of scoring another one to get back within a goal but then Strum chased down a loose ball behind the Lightning net and sent a centering pass out front. The ball hit something and deflected past Paul into the net, making it 5-2 with just over three minutes to play. The Lightning scorers stayed cold in the final frame as they made their final push and Strum roofed another goal from tight quarters after a turnover, which turned out to be the final nail hammered home in a 6-2 win by the Tornados.