Blades on a Roll: Shutout Westchester Wildcats
By L. Hayes
Once upon a Monday dreary, Blades all woke up weak & weary,
From the game so fast & furious, that left them so bruised & sore;
While they dozed on, nearly napping, suddenly there came a rapping
As of someone gently tapping, tapping memories ignored
‘Tis someone here,’ they muttered, ‘recapping while we try to snore’
Twas this a dream, and nothing more?
To sum up our sad history against the Wildcats, I’ll keep the typo I made when I told someone we suffered a 10-1 defeat just a few tears ago. But more recently, the games have been hotly contested, and Westchester has learned that at the very least, it’s getting a fight.
We had a great line up, and a deep bench, with 3 sets of wings, 2 centers , 4 D and Steph in the net. This early in the season, we’re still trying out different combinations, and in this instance, we not only had centers rotating between the 3 pairs of wings, we also had Sue and Clare switching between center and D.
In the first, Liz and Laurie started with Lora on center, and Sue and Sarah on D. The Wildcats were rocked back on their heels by their strong and steady assault. They tried to bring it back out, but that just let the Blades get in a quick line change as they headed back toward Westchester’s net. Namiko, Clare and Laura A jumped the board, with Cassidy and myself behind them. The forwards used their speed to keep the Wildcats guessing. Namiko and Clare both made great use of their defense, passing the puck back at strategic moments, while Laura A demonstrated a cool head and excellent positioning, always in the right place for a quick pass. Cassidy played D, in the neutral zone, shutting down an offensive rush when the Wildcats offense tried to blast on through, only to find their pockets picked.
Lora’s turn again, this time flanked by Karyn and Nina. Nina’s game has clearly been on the upswing: this time, she may have set a personal record for getting and making passes. Wisely concentrating her efforts where she had the greatest impact, she found herself in the right place at the right time, time and again, intercepting Westchester. Karyn was awesome on the boards, chipping her way up ice, making great passes.
When the Wildcats pressed, the Blades pushed back.
Sue cleared the defensive zone with a smart flip shot that sailed over enemy sticks and found Lora already moving.
Lora gave the proceedings a Halloween touch, the way she ghosted through the crowds. She skated through the defense like Casper floating through a wall, shooting on the net and retrieving her own rebounds. Her relentlessness paid off, netting her the first goal of the night!
Sarah was a wall on the blue line, so much so that a Wildcat tried to poke a hole in her, spearing her in the neck. The pain left Sarah gasping for air, but she never complained and she never quit – she just kept skating so hard, she was panting every time she came back to the bench.
Once the Blades were rolling, Westchester barely had a chance to get into our zone. Clare ran down a player with the puck and took it away like she was auditioning for Fagin in ‘Oliver Twist.’ Sue ran the puck up the ice and got off a great shot on net. Westchester never got a chance to regroup.
In the second, Westchester hit the ice like a team possessed, determined to wrest back the lead they obviously felt was rightfully theirs.
The L line of Liz, Laurie and Lora were on the ice when Laurie made a great centering pass to Lora, who took a shot. Laurie went after the rebound, and the goalie came out and went after Laurie! No whistle, though. (Lots of offside calls against both teams the whole game, but no penalties.)
Sue, now a center, skated hard at both ends, and helped dig the puck out of our zone. In their end, Nina went straight for the net, drawing the D’s attention, and interfering with their attempts to clear it out. Karyn was a strong presence on the wing, finding the center with long, crisp passes, going to the net and putting pressure on the goalie.
The L Lines was back on the ice, setting up a triangle around Westchester’s net. Lora circled behind the net, came out, shot, Liz grabbed the rebound and goal! It was like when you were a kid tick-or-tricking and you came to a house that ran out of the mini-candies and was handing out big chocolate bars to a lucky few – a sweet, sweet score!
There was no time to relax – Westchester came back hard. They were matched by the Blades. From the way she skated and attacked, you’d never guessed that Laura A had run a race that very morning. She must have legs of steel! Namiko, whose speed helped wear down her opposition, took a more direct approach in the Wildcats zone. Fighting for the puck in the corner, she started to go down, then took the other player down as well. Nobody puts Namiko in the corner!
In the third period, the depth of the Blades’ bench became obvious. Piece by piece, Westchester unraveled like a mummy without a sewing kit. They weren’t giving up: we were stepping up. The defense was exceptional in the third, as Cassidy, Sarah and Sue all stepped up to prevent breakaways, and clear the front of the net. (And let’s not forget Cassidy’s pretty little drop passes in the neutral zone!) Kudos to Sue for crossing from defense to offense to defense again, with such ease!
Laurie and Liz were a great set; Laurie skipped the puck up the boards past their defense, while Liz circled smoothly around their net, managing to be everywhere they didn’t want her to be, and doubtless dizzying their goalie at the same time.
Namiko, Laura A and Clare got into a great rhythm; in one shift, Laura A got the puck into Westchester’s zone and shot at the net, Namiko retrieved the rebound and centered it, while Clare swooped in for the next shot.
Steph was nothing short of sensational the entire game, never losing her focus, never losing her cool. And in the end she got the score she got a well-deserved shut-out, while Westchester was still wondering what happened.
It was a great, fun game. Thanks everyone for playing your hearts out!