Blades Shutout ‘Canes!
By L. Hayes
Our previous game against the Hurricanes on their home ice was a 5-2 loss. They’re a strong team this season, and the odd size of their rink is a definite advantage to those who know it best. Last time, they had the home advantage, and every puck seemed to bounce their way. This time, coming off a strong showing against the Lipstix just two days earlier, the Blades were ready to downgrade Long Island from a hurricane to a gentle breeze!
We had two solid lines of forwards and D. Up front, Meredith centered Tanya and Lora, and Clare was between Karyn and Namiko. On the blue line were Sue and Cassidy, Laura A and I.
Cassidy, by the way, had the longest trip to the game: she started out that morning on a 9-hour bus ride from Montreal, reaching NYC just in time to pick up her gear before leaving for the game. All that rest had her raring’ to go!
The Hurricanes came out strong, but the Blades weren’t giving up any space. Cassidy was literally skating circles around the opposition. Namiko, Clare and Karyn kept up a torrid pace. Sue never seemed to stop moving. Laura A had perfect positioning, stepping into the offensive zone in time to save the puck, starting back into the neutral zone in time to disrupt a break away.
The action moved from one zone to the other, back and forth, with neither side able to gain ascendancy. At one point, about halfway through the period, Tanya, Meredith and Lora swarmed the net. A shot – a whistle – and cheers? The ‘Canes were cheering for their goalie, who managed to fend off the challenge. The fierce first period ended, scoreless but action-packed.
The second period started with both teams determined to be first to break the stalemate. Early on, Steph made an amazing save. She went down to stop a shot; the rebound bounced and stopped on the side, in a dangerous spot, with a ‘Cane bearing down. As the skater came screaming across the crease Steph flipped like a beached trout, and landed on the puck. Denied!
Less than three minutes and a lifetime later, Tanya and Meredith swapped the puck, brought it in, and sent it to Lora who drew first blood! Score!
After the goal, the furious Hurricanes ramped it up. They won the face off and fired a shot at Steph so hard it whistled as it sped through the air toward the back of the net – right till the moment she gloved it!
LI was determined to tie the game, but the Blades were more determined to stop them. Laura A made an excellent save, speeding down the ice to interrupt a breakaway. Later she went on the offense, taking control of the puck and driving it through traffic in the neutral zone. Clare played hard at both ends, protecting our net then pulling up in their slot to fire away. The Namiko-Clare-Karyn line worked wonderfully well together.
That line was on the ice, with six minutes left in the period, when Cassidy got the puck. She took off like she was trying to catch the last bus to NYC, skated in deep, wrapped behind the net then turned the corner and fired it in top shelf! 2-0 Blades!
Then two minutes late… Lora scored again! Beautiful teamwork by the TML line!
You better believe the ‘Canes were riled up now that they were down 3-zip! They broke it but it wasn’t enough to turn the tide in their favor. Sue scooped up the puck and sent it flying out of our zone like she was clearing snow out of the driveway. Karyn took the puck and pushed it up the board, step by step despite heavy physical opposition. She wouldn’t give an inch! The ‘Canes got a penalty and the Blades had a power play for the last two minutes of the period. The period ended 3-0 in our favor.
The third period started with the Hurricanes determined to wrest back control of the game. Unfortunately for them, the Blades more in synch than an atomic clock, more in synch than *NSYNC in its heyday. In one typical shift, Cassidy intercepted the puck in the neutral zone and passed it up to Clare, who sent in back again to Sue. Sue turned and tipped it off the board to Karyn, who skated across the blue line with Namiko sprinting alongside.
But if our harmonious choreography was reminiscent of a 20th century boy band, then in the third, Lora was our Justin Timberlake. Meredith won the face-off, and started up the ice, sending the puck up the boards to Tanya. Tanya took it over the line and wound up on the boards. The three forwards were cycling, shooting, rebounding, skating – then Lora took the puck, skated round the net, and shot. A goal, and a hat trick!
In the last few minutes of the game, everyone ratched up their defensive games. The forwards backchecked like crazy. Namiko and Karyn united to mug a player who was trying to break away like security guards shucking a ticket scalper.
Sue, Laura A and Cassidy, all of whom have spent more time as forwards than on D, shut down the Hurricanes when they were trying to crash the net like fans swarming a tour bus. Even on the rare occasions when someone got close enough to shoot, Steph turned them away.
The game ended with the Blades up 4-0. It was a tremendous team effort, and a well deserved shut out for Steph!
(And as *NSYNC might say – ‘Bye Bye Bye’!)