Game 9 vs. North End Flames
A Barn Burner!
There are two common themes with this Elks team this season: Number one; Sometimes we can seemingly score at will, and number two; We have a hard time keeping a lead.
History with the Flames
Tonight we took on the number one ranked North End Flames (7-2-1 coming into this game). In our first two contests we had a 4-0 loss (our very first game of the regular season) and a 4-3 shootout win in the semi-finals of the Westfort Tournament.
The coaches pre-game talk included many references to “team defense”, “taking more pride in our defense”, and “keeping our goals against down”.
Scoring at Will
The first period opened with Jeremy Moore having to make a difficult save right on his doorstep, and actually had to make a few big saves for us in that period. This may have gone unnoticed because we opened up a 5-0 lead. We tweaked the forward lines just a bit exchanging Matthew Vis for Hayden Hickey. It immediately seemed to pay off as Kevin Janik took a pass kicked over by Vis 1:11 into the game and then Hayden Hickey potted a couple goals on his line with Gage Bechard and Eric Kraznichuk. Jordan Pleson and John Zurkan got the next couple. All of these goals came within the first ten minutes of play. The last couple minutes of the period were a bit scrambled and saw us take a penalty near the end of play.
Last game, which I was away for if you’re wondering why there was no write-up, we blew a 3-0 lead and lost 6-5 to the Beavers. Surely a 5-0 lead was safe, right? Right?!
Playing with the Lead
We started off on the second period on the penalty kill. 23 seconds in, the Flames got on the board. One minute later, Janik roofed a nice feed from Pleson to regain the 5-goal lead. The Flames came back with another goal shortly after to make it 6-2 but late in the third, Hickey scored his third of the game to again put us up by 5 goals.
There was a scary moment in the second, when Zurkan had gone down with an apparent knee injury. As one of the team trainers, I went out and helped him off the ice. He went to the dressing room with quite a bit of difficulty. His dad took him to emergency to check him out. I called him after the game and he’s unsure of his status but nothing seems to be broken or too badly injured. John’s status should be considered day-to-day.
Bradley Gagnon jumped from defense to forward to take John’s place on “The Z-Line” and netted a powerplay goal near the end of the second.
The third period saw a comeback of sorts with the Flames getting three goals. Hickey would answer back with his fourth of the night. Final score: 9-5 Elks.
We were still not happy with our goals against and overall team defense but I suppose in a game where you score 9 goals, it’s not uncommon to have quite a few come back into your own net. Still, before this game we were averaging 4.25 goals (which is great) but 4.0 goals against. We can be better.