Blades Shut-out Wildcats
By L. Hayes
Our second game definitely started on a high note, coming off our victory over the Ice Breakers the previous week. Of course the match up against Westchester still had a lot of question marks, though; we’re still in the shake-down phase, getting used to new lines and positions, and you never know what kind of changes the other team has gone through.
We had full lines up front, and on D: Meredith centered Tanya F-for-Forward, and Consuelo, Amanda was between Alyssa and Nina, and Danielle skated with Laurie and Kim. Blueliners were Deb and Laura, Tanya D-for-Defense and me, with Steph minding the net.
We got off to a rollicking start! This year’s Wildcat team seems very even with us, and the action moved quickly up and down the ice. Tanya F, clearly energized by her recent trip to Greece, skated more like greased lightning as she and Meredith took turns carrying the puck and taking shots. Consuelo has a nice move in the offensive zone one of her first shifts, when the Wildcats were trying a breakout and she intercepted the skater and got her stick on the puck, to keep it in.
Danielle used her speed to great effect in the neutral zone, backchecking beautifully. She was also tremendously effective at our breakouts, swooping through the middle of our zone to pick up a chipped shot from Laurie. In case you didn’t know, this was Laurie’s first game back since January and she returned seemingly seamlessly, with her usual array of smart moves – using her positioning well, keeping her head up, and looking for her teammates instead of throwing the puck away.
Back on D, Tanya D was playing effectively despite the handicap of a bone-bruised ankle that kept her skating from being as effortless as it usually appears. She did a great job keeping forwards along the boards and away from the net. Deb had a beautiful move when she cleared the puck from the front of the net deep into the corner. Meredith swooped down to pick it up and send it careening behind the net, and Deb got it again on the other side to start the break out.
The ANA line had a good shift – while Nina tied up the D in front of the net, Alyssa and Amanda criss-crossed in the zone looking for openings. Three Wildcats stepped up to form a wall in front of Alyssa, who just slid around them along the blue line with a Matrix-like lean, without ever dropping the puck or going out of bounds.
As time passed, the Wildcats picked up the pace. The Blades could have used more back checking in the neutral zone – Westchester took advantage of every opening to build up speed. Deb and Danielle were particularly good at killing their momentum, with Danielle forcing a turnover then rocketing to the net for a shot.
In our defensive zone, Laura took charge at the blue line; on one rush she stepped up to make the offender cough up the puck, which Laura then chipped over to a waiting Amanda. Amanda pushed it up to Laurie in the neutral zone, who licked it up to Kim for a rush up the ice. Nicely done!
On the next shift Tanta F had a tremendous rush up the ice, sprinting past defenders for a great shot on net. The WW goalie was at the top of her game, repositioning quickly to fend off the shot. But moments later, with just over three minutes left in the game, Alyssa forced a neutral zone turnover then raced to the offensive zone and fired off a patented Cherry shot, foot in the and puck in the net, for the first goal of the game!
Westchester responded with vigor, and Steph got to show off some quick moves of her own as the Wildcats tried to crash our net to even the score. Tanya D helped with a crucial clear with downright cinematic properties: she skated the puck in a tight S pattern to the corner, behind the net and out, causing two offenders to lose their edges and hit the ice behind her as if wiped out by her backwash!
In the second period the Wildcats came out hard. They crashed our zone, but a beautiful set of passes, Tanya D to Danielle to Laurie, got the puck out. Steph was up, down, and sliding sideways making saves, getting a week’s worth of exercise all at once. Nina and Kim were especially good at battling for the puck along the boards, and Kim took every opportunity to skate it as well. Westchester kept fighting its way to the net, and Laura took our first penalty of the season with a crosscheck to prevent a shot. The resulting penalty kill was as flawless as it needed to be, with the WW unable to capitalize. Meredith was particularly impressive as she kept the pressure on the WW in the neutral zone.
Back at even strength, the WW stormed our net. Steph waved the puck off to the corner, where a Wildcat fanned it back, when a quick move and a crazy bounce sent it slithering toward an open section of our net. No fear – Tanya D was there to poke it away!
As the period ran down, Alyssa had another breakaway, dashing full speed up the ice, curving in and shooting the puck – right into the goalie’s chest! Nice try, though!
Still 1-0 at the end of the second.
The third period started with verve. Meredith passed the puck back to Deb, who pushed it up the ice, then skipped it over to Tanya F, who got scrappy on the boards with a Wildcat. Consuelo kept her head up and eyes open as she circled the open ice, looking for a pass. The puck came back down to Deb, who sent it up to Tanya again for another run up the ice as Consuelo ran with her and Meredith trailed. But Tanya F had no sooner crossed the blue line when she and the defender both went down, their momentum sending them spinning like driedels on the ice.
The Wildcats really wanted that tying goal. They closed in on our net, but Steph squared herself off and made the saves. Kim had a nice move on the boards – she had to push and chip away at the puck, moving it inch by inch to get it past the offender and break it out.
Two minutes in Tanya D sent a pass up the ice and while Nina took out one of the D, Alyssa attracted the other defenders as she skated, circled, then shooped the puck across the crease to Amanda, who poked it in for her first Blades goal! 2-0 Blades!
For the rest of the period, the Blades concentrated on defense while the Wildcats pulled out all the stops. Deb had a pretty little poke check at just the right moment, and TanyaF made another terrific run to the net for a shot. When the Wildcats came back, Laurie did a smart move in the neutral zone to throw them off their pace, and Danielle was able to pick their pockets. With under five minutes left, Westchester had a breakaway, but Steph faced them down and took the shot in the chest. They kept coming back, and pulled their goalie with two minutes left to skate. But the Blades kept focused and withstood the final scramble – and Steph earned her second shut out! 2-0 Blades!