Blades Prove Last Win Was No Fluke
By L. Hayes
Our last game against Westchester was a one-goal nail-biter, and we were starting out with a few handicaps this time, with people like Cherry and Duffy and Herlihy out on the DL, Jackie playing with a fever, and Sophie rocking a new pair of Christmas skates that, regrettably, had never touched ice before, causing her to splay out and skitter like Bambi sailing across a frozen pond.
Luckily we had a full bench. With so many teams, a full roster means you might as well bring a magazine because you’re gonna sit so long between shifts. But the Blades have been doing a great job keeping shifts short and action-packed, rolling the lines quickly so there are always fresh legs on the ice.
This game was another nailbiter. Overall we looked a little rusty for the first half of the first period, not surprising for our first game of the year after a long layoff. We had a powerplay and failed to convert. But we didn’t make any major mistakes while we were getting our legs back under us, and slowly the Blades began to get an edge. On one pivotal play, the Wildcats had a breakaway, and it was looking like a three on one till Sophie came from behind, stole the puck, and sent it to Meredith behind her, who took it into their zone and got off a fine shot.
Every line had great chances for the rest of the game. Meredith, Tanya and Karyn took so many shots on net that they may have spent as much time on the resulting faceoffs as they did skating. In one shift, the desperate Wildcats almost the puck out of their zone, until Deb stopped it, made a sweet wrist shot to the high slot, straight to Meredith. Three face-offs in a row followed, and Meredith won every one!
Kelly and her line were robbed three, maybe four times – I’d like to see the video review of at least one of those close calls! Katie’s line, with Laurie and Sarah, also should have had a couple on the scoreboard. Katie won faceoff after faceoff. She also raced across the ice like a greyhound, swift and seemingly effortless. In one crucial moment in the second period, it looked as if the Wildcats were going to settle in and keep the puck by our net for an extended time. But Katie swooped in, grabbing the puck and executing a graceful U-turn to turn the tide of pressure away from us and onto them. Sarah’s not afraid to get physical – she broke up so many shots up the boards that she’ll probably be picking splinters out of her jersey all week. Laurie was beautifully positioned at every turn, always open for a pass. Under pressure in the neutral zone, Deb caught a cross ice pass and quickly and calmly sent it across the ice to Laurie, who was already making tracks to the blue line in anticipation.
Two factors kept the game from ever breaking open for the Wildcats: the forwards backchecked like champions, and the defense never let the WCats control the puck for long. Hutch sparkled on D, playing like a latter day Bobby Orr, aggressive on offense as well as defense. Laura played tough and smart, facing down breakaway attempts and clearing the front of the net. Deb controlled the tempo every time she got the puck, playing several moves ahead of the opposition around her. And as for Jackie and her fever? Clearly, she’s got hockey fever, and the only answer for that is more ice!
What turned out to be the play of the game came with just four minutes left in the first. Kelly, Sue and Nina were in the offensive zone, pressuring the Wildcats. The Cats got the puck and sent a clearing pass up the ice. But they didn’t count on Nina, playing what might have been her best game yet. She intercepted the puck before it got over the blue line, passing it to Kelly. Kelly took it behind the net then sent it to Sue on the side. Nina went to the front of the net and tied up one of their defenders, while Sue who took a shot that Jackie deflected into the net for a goal! This win was a total team effort but if Nina didn’t reach that puck first, the play didn’t happen and the Blades didn’t score!
The Blades held on to that slender one goal lead for the entire game, with smart play and a strong team effort. Time after time, the D pushed puck carriers to the side before plucking the pucks away. And when the WC broke through – there was Steph. Steph had too many amazing saves to count, including one in the second where the shooter had a clear breakaway and a straight line into an empty corner of the net, until Steph seemed to stretch across the crease like Gumby. Late in the third, a fast moving player broke away and got a powerful shot off, that rocketed high, wide – and straight into Steph’s glove hand. Stamp that shot Denied!
In the final minute the WCats threw everything they had on the ice, including pulling their goalie. They threw everything they had down on the ice, but no one could break through, and that one goal lead held up. The Blades started the new year in style, winning the second game in a row against Westchester! Well done, everyone!