What seems like an unlikely feat, after multiple season of a drought, team HockeyWorldBlog.com has taken the Championship.
The stage was set, team HockeyWorldBlog.com faced off against TRBL in the finals. HWB came into the contest as the favorite, taking first in the regular season with an impressive 8-2-0. TRBL, the underdog, finished third in the season not far behind with a 7-3-0 record.
As the teams warmed up, you could see the focus in their eyes. The music played, the horn sounded, goalies readied, and the puck dropped.
The first period got off to a quick start as 1 minute and 2 seconds into the period TRBL got on the board with a low blister to beat Eddie the goalie. The home crowd went silent, the tension grew. The goal seemed fluky, caught the defense off-guard. Play resumed and TRBL lit the lamp once more at the 5 minute and 17 second mark. HWB players started feeling hopeless.
“I thought about calling a timeout, to settle the guys down,” HWB Head Coach said. “But I did not want to waste it, I had faith in my boys, we’ve faced adversity before.”
To HWB’s relief, 59 seconds later, Evan put the puck behind the goal-line to put the game within one. The goal was assisted by a pretty pass from Koenig.
With the period nearing an end, and both teams playing hard, a TRBL turnover at center ice proved costly. EB picked up the puck on the right boards, sent it opposite side to Matt who took a few strides, ripped a shot from the top left circle, and put it past the goalie high.
“I’ve been practicing my form off-ice with some stuff from HockeyShot.com,” when asked about his Stamkos-esque wrister, “it seems to be paying off.”
The first period ended, both teams took a breather, both teams focused, both teams tied at two goals a piece.
“TRBL needed the break for sure. After going up two, then giving up two unanswered, you could really see the momentum starting to change.” a fan noted from the stands.
The second period got under way, with no penalties called and great up and down action, both goalies made incredible saves to keep their teams in it. At 9 minutes and 16 seconds in, HWB’s hard work paid off. On a shot that went wide on the left side, Evan picked it up from behind the net and tried to pick the low right corner. TRBL goalie made an incredible sliding save, kicked it out high opposite side and defenseman Chris pinched in for the slap-shot. The Shea Weber-esque shot found the back of the net, giving HWB a 3-2 lead.
“The play evolved so quickly. After the initial shot went wide, I saw Evan pick it from behind and take a shot. Next thing I know I’m trying to make myself as thin as a board as Chris ripped a shot between myself and the goalie for the goal. I could see the goalies eyes, he knew there was nothing he could do, the shot was just that hard. I’m just glad it didn’t hit me.” EB said later about the play.
The period ended with a spark as TRBL took a slashing call. HWB looked to capitalize on their first power-play, coming back from a 2-0 deficit, now leading 3-2.
Third period started with TRBL killing the penalty. Unable to score on the power-play, a determined Matt lined up for a face-off. The puck dropped, Evan kicked it forward, Matt reached around the defenseman and took a swing at the puck, putting it behind the unsuspecting goalie. The goal came at 4 minutes and 54 seconds into the third.
“It was just what we needed. Although it was blind luck, Matt’s arms raised in a “what happened” fashion after it went in. That was the dagger HWB needed.” General Manager Hank McCoy commented.
The fireworks started from there as both sides started getting chippy.
HWB big defender Curlew took a hooking penalty at 8 minutes and 54 seconds. With 46 second remaining in the penalty kill, the fans gasped as HWB defender Pargoff took an interference penalty, putting TRBL on a 4 on 2 power-play. HWB’s shut down defender Chris took to the rink to do what he does best.
“I think part of my success comes from playing with a great team. They make me look better,” Chris mentioned after the game when asked of his key penalty killing play this season. “I always try to work hard on the penalty kill. Sometimes we kill it off, sometimes we don’t, but I’m at least going to skate hard and battle for loose pucks and make the other team work for their goal. As for playing to a high caliber on the PK, I really just try to keep my composure and try not to get caught out of position and battle hard for the puck.”
The initial penalty was killed, leaving HWB still a man down. TRBL capitalized, feathering a pass from left to right of Eddie to a perfectly placed winger to tap in the one-timer. The score became 4-3 in favor of HWB, only 3 minutes and 37 seconds left.
As the clock winded down, HWB going into a defensive shell, Tuttle fought hard clearing the puck mutliple times, the intensity grew. With TRBL’s goalie pulled, an onslaught of shots were turned away by Eddie, the puck went to the corner. Defenseman Pargoff followed a TRBL player into the corner, went to angle him off of the puck, only to have the TRBL flop like a Vancouver Canuck.
“All hell broke loose. TRBL with the man advantage started jumping Pargoff. At one point Matt grabbed a guy and threw him up against the boards.” GM McCoy noted of his star player. “Matt took a few shots, I was worried about an injury, but unlike Crosby, Matt threw a few solid jabs that any boxer would have been proud of.”
As the refs broke up the skirmish, 3 TRBL players were assessed 10 minute unsportsmanlike misconducts. Pargoff took 2 minutes for interference while Matt also took a 10 minute unsportsmanlike misconduct.
“Not sure how they ended up with a power-play after all was said and done,” HWB Head Coach said with 9 seconds left on the clock. “But the true test was about to begin.”
With 9 seconds to go, TRBL goalie pulled to make it a 5 on 3, the face-off was to the left of goaltender Eddie. The puck dropped, HWB’s players scrambling to block shots, TRBL took one last shot, only to have Eddie shut the door.
“I think what helped me stay sharp and focused is the amount of close games we have. We did win 11 straight games but 9 of those were by two goals or less. And I was in goal for all nine of those games. That meant I had to stay sharp and make save after save and keep playing until the final buzzer sounded.” Eddie commented about his clutch play. “The championship game was no different. The last sequence of 9 seconds felt like the longest 9 seconds of my life, I was making a save keeping a rebound out of the net even as the buzzer sounded.”
Team HockeyWorldBlog.com took to the rink, cheers yelled loud, gloves thrown, their first Championship in over 2 years.
HWB had heart, throughout the whole season. Losing two games right away, rallying to win the last 8 of the regular season, overcoming an overtime semi-final game and finally outlasting the opposition in the Championship game.
As the team partied the night away, a new day began, in preparation for the upcoming transition into an ice league in a few weeks. The team is faced with some difficult decisions, who to sign, who to let go, and how to sign some important free agents. Two key defensive players on free agency are that of restricted free agent Jeff and unrestricted free agent Chris.
HWB GM McCoy worries that the most improved player over the season, Jeff, may receive an offer sheet; but McCoy assures the team’s cap space should allow for a counter.
Media outlets are reporting that Chris may be testing the waters this July 1st. When asked, here’s what Chris had to say.
“Don’t believe everything you read on the internet. I mean, right now I have to pay for my own post-game beers, so it would be great if I could get some sort of deal where someone else bought me a beer once in a while. But honestly, I love playing with the guys we have right now and I think this past season everyone really worked hard and we had a lot of fun. It’s a great group of guys and I look forward to playing with everyone for many more years to come.”
This season is a wrap, one with a happy ending. To all players of HWB, congrats on a great season and fans all around for following, we look forward to the next one.