A strange aura engulfed Kings Inline Hockey Night at Kings Sports Centre.
Lacking their net-minder, the Burger King Gamebirds elected to endure last Tuesday’s game against the Cayman Hot Sauce Flames. The Gamebirds used five skaters, instead of the usual four, hoping to get an advantage. Sound like arduous request with no goalie? The score at half-time was only 4-2 in the Flames’ favour with the Gamebirds taking the opening goal.
Cayman Hot Sauce had trouble finding their game, a style which becomes very different with the opposing team having an extra skater. The Flames tried a few different strategies, shooting the puck from deep, carrying it closer then shooting but most attempts were thwarted by Burger King’s Rich Hastings, who played a quasi-defensive goaltender position.
Hastings intercepted shots with his stick, skates and used his body generally to let the Flames know there was never going to be an easy goal given up. Flames young gun Jagger Hope was given first-hand experience on several occasions as a wide-open net would quickly be closed up by Hastings. Hope would eventually find justification for his efforts with two goals and an assist for the night.
Burger King, midway through the second half, saw the score difference extended against them with Chris Anton finding a hat-trick in consecutive weeks. Rob Seward was granted precise passes for crisp finishing, with one given to him from mid-air by Ray Singh, to notch three goals and two assists to his name.
The Flames would win 11-5 with the Three Stars going to Seward, Hope and Hastings.
In the next game, Mepco’s High Rollers looked to reinstate some authority following last week’s deceptive loss against a Deloitte Sharks building confidence following their previous win. The match did not look in Mepco’s favour with their top snipers missing and their bench significantly reduced.
Mepco’s Derek Bruce, renown for his tenacity, was rewarded five minutes into the game with a goal. He was followed two minutes later by team-mate Brad Kirby. Their bench was adequate and their shots hard, but the star was Mepco goalie Andrew Finlason, who was finding intuitive positioning with good glove work. Dave Champoux, however, led Deloitte’s renewed counter-attacking first and that was capitalized on by Rob Rintoul with two goals to leave Deloitte comfortable at the half with a 3-2 edge.
Comfort is said to never be an advantageous state of mind in the sporting world and this would hold true two minutes into the second half. Relief would come to Scott Somerville after many tough shots directed to Sharks goalie Scott Hughes.
Somerville was releasing snap shot after snap shot towards Hughes, who at times seemed surprised himself to find the puck smothered in his equipment. Somerville would go one for nine during regulation, devastating his scoring percentage to 11.76 per cent but he wasn’t finished just yet.
Deloitte’s Tim Derksen solidified the lead, as his goal put the score at 5-3 with 18 minutes to go. However, that plenty of time for Mepco’s Darryl Hather and Derek Bruce to even things up before calling a time-out at three minutes remaining. With play restarted, Deloitte’s Jewitt retrieved the puck from deep in his end and moved up rink for a game-determining offensive play.
Mepco’s Brad Kirby probably couldn’t believe his luck seeing Jewitt mess up and pounced on the puck, taking it unimpeded towards Hughes in net. Kirby let on one rip, with Hughes making the stop, but the puck bounced back out to a retrieving Jewitt and with good sight up rink released a precision stretch pass to team-mate Claude Plamondon, who was given a Kirby opportunity but denied by Finlason. At the end of regulation, the score read 5-5 and the match would require a best-of-three shoot-out.
First up and first denied was Mepco’s Somerville. Deloitte’s Rintoul followed and scored with Mepco’s Kirby evening it one each. Tied after the best of three, Derek Bruce and Deloitte’s Dan Etherington could decide the game if either scored. None did and so the rounds increased.
Both Hughes and Finlason were stellar, allowing one goal each through seven rounds of shoot-out hockey and it appeared neither were going to allow a goal. Deep into round six, Champoux was up to finish the game. A deceptive shoot-out entity, some were thinking Champoux might spoil Finlason’s night.
Champoux, starting from centre, veered heavily left hoping to pull Finlason off angle. Finlason wasn’t buying it, forcing Champoux to come in tight across the crease and hopefully get one over him. He was somewhat successful but the intentions are unclear if he was targeting the basketball hoop above.
With Mepco working through their game roster, it was Somerville’s turn to try again and steer away the frustration Hughes had presented him with all night. Instead of his usual high shot, he unleashed a quick one low which required Wayne Griffith to score so Deloitte could go further.
Griffith skated deep, trying a deke wide to his right thinking he’d done his job. But Finlason reached with his stick in desperation, sprawled across the crease, to make the save and leave Griffith rejected. The final Score read 6-5 to Mepco with the Three Stars being Finlason (.886 save percentage after stopping 39 of 44 shots), Somerville and Bruce.