Many wondered if the puck had intentions all of its own after 36 goals were scored over two games at Kings Sports Centre.
The national roller hockey league would see surprising outcomes last Tuesday. The offensively weighted High Rollers were heavy favourites against the low-scoring Flames. However, a drastically reduced Rollers bench indicated this was going to be a game of pacing for the full 50 minutes.
In spite of the roster disadvantage, Rollers chalked up the opening goal and continued to plug away with both teams matching each other score for score heading into the game’s last five minutes. With the Flames lapsing in tight defensive coverage at times, the Rollers’ Ryan Pull unleashed a flurry of sighted lasers into the high corners of Flames goalie Jeremy Olynik’s net.
Rollers sniper Mark Missal was notable, having to take a defensive role due to the short numbers. He still managed a highly commendable tally of three goals and three assists.
Matching Missal would be Chris Anton and Mike Bowden for the Flames. Whilst Anton has consistently put shots on goal, he had yet to score until Tuesday. Opposing players were again led to respect the “wile e Anton,” scoring three goals from impossible angles.
Not being left from the mix, Bowden was creative in leading composed break-outs from deep in his end. His three goals and three assist were a relieved welcome for someone not used to experiencing such a dry period.
Also earning props was Gordon Mattison, a senior league veteran still demanding respect. A true workhorse, Mattison did his team proud with three goals, including the game-winner. Norm Klein also got his season’s first, contributing to the Flames’ morale boosting 13-10 victory that saw a 51-35 shot advantage. Three Stars: Mike Bowden, Chris Anton, Gordie Mattison.
With the Burger King Gamebirds short on their bench, a turnaround in the league standings wasn’t unlikely.
The first puck drop with the Gamebirds and Deloitte Sharks began with a flurry of activity. Both team were eager to execute their presence with some good strong hockey being played along the boards and in the corners.
Although the tempo was quick and determination gritty, the score at half-time had both teams at two goals each with goalies Randy Cannon and Scott Hughes making their presence known.
Deloitte’s Wayne Griffith unveiled his magic at times with some highlight rushes towards the net. With a respectable five shots on goal, the other teams should make note of perhaps the league’s most deceptive player. With Burger King’s lack of subs, fatigue was probably setting in but that didn’t phase Pete Holowchuk. He led a three-on-one break, linking up nicely with Brendon Malice for a crisp one-two exchange that left Holowchuk to finish with authority from a tight angle.
Deloitte’s Dan Etherington came to life in the second with his strong effort in the first being rewarded with four goals and one assist. The night’s performance left him with a very respectable 30.8 scoring percentage and the number one star of the game, leaving Deloitte to be relieved to have him back on the roster.
With all of that ongoing, it would be difficult to think there could be more. Don’t tell that to 15-year-old Josiah Derksen though. With still a fair share of the senior players looking for their first season goal, the young gun must have raised eyebrows by recording not only his first score but also his first hat-trick on the night.
One could admire Derksen’s goal-scoring ability but it’s his work ethic battling in the corners against some of the league’s most tenacious players that deserves praise. Together with his skating ability, he’s getting to the right areas at the right times and he’s reaping the rewards.
All this, combined with Scott Hughes’ .912 save percentage, ended up overwhelming the Gamebirds as Deloitte finished 10-3 winners at the buzzer. Three Stars: Dan Etherington, Joe Derksen, Scott Hughes.
The public is reminded that league games continue at Kings on Tuesday, 9 October, from 8pm. Spectators are welcome.