The Deloitte Sharks have much to be delighted about in Cayman roller hockey.
Deloitte would down the Cayman Hot Sauce Flames 6-4 last Tuesday on inline hockey night at Kings Sports Centre. The victory puts Deloitte top of the table over the Burger King Gamebirds through goal difference.
The Flames had Jean-Louis Beaudet back on the roster and he wasted no time reaffirming his presence with the game-opening goal. Beaudet, in years past, has been a contender for the league top scorer but lately, he has been having trouble finding a catalyst to set him off.
Beaudet’s skating ability, displaying quickness and acceleration combined with his deftly puck protection, often find him alone in the offensive zone with not many outlet options. Beaudet, besides his goal on the night, would take home an even more impressive seven for seven win streak midway through the second period. All of that and Beaudet is just 17-years-old.
Deloitte had a workhorse of their own with Claude Plamondon, a talented recent recruit from the ball hockey league, beginning to show why he’s coveted. With no goals and only eleven shots-on-goal one may question the acquired respect. However, with four assists in only a handful of games, his ability is clearly on display.
Plamondon is consistently in the vicinity of the puck, creating awkward moments for his opponent’s defence behind the net and drawing players to him to leave team-mates open for opportune chances. Claude’s efforts would be rewarded, taking Deloitte’s one ahead by assisting on captain Tim Courtis’ goal 15 minutes into the first half. Sharks continued to pressure the Flames and had a 4-2 advantage within the first 25 minutes.
Cayman Hot Sauce weren’t about to allow a two-goal deficit to dampen their efforts, not even when Deloitte’s Tim Derksen put them further ahead just after the start of the second. The Flames’ Chris Anton would link up nicely with Gordon Mattison, after Mattison forced his way down the right boards and spotted Anton coming from deep at the far side of the crease. A perfect pass allowed Anton to slot one away and reduce Deloitte’s lead to just two with 18 minutes to play.
Flames goalie Jeremy Olynik was kept busy, facing 41 shots for the night, but no one would score for a further 15 minutes. Still down two with three minutes remaining, Cayman Hot Sauce’s Ray Singh would follow the puck behind the net into the corner and, shooting from an impossible angle, squeeze one behind the leg pad of Deloitte’s Scott Hughes for his first of the season to put the Flames back within one.
With renewed energy, Flames tried tying it up before the buzzer but the Joe Jewitt-Rob Rintoul line would produce one more for Deloitte to put the game out of reach. The Three Stars were Tim Derksen, Claude Plamondon and Jewitt.
Intensity was clearly back on track as the Gamebirds-Mepco High Rollers game went down to the wire. After the first puck drop, it hardly took any time for Mepco’s Brad Kirby to score within 20 seconds. Five minutes later, Mepco did it again. This time, with Ryan Pull beating Gamebirds goalie Randy Cannon with a shot that would usually be a routine save.
It was looking like Cannon might be away from his grove when Mepco’s Scott Sommerville scored twice more putting his team up 4-0 with two minutes to go before half-time. Mepco were playing “High Roller Hockey” with their systematic break-outs and patient puck movement that had the Gamebirds bench unsure of their approach.
Mepco’s defensive pairing of Darryl Hather and Jeff Danter were breaking up plays before shots got through on net. From there, goalie Finlason was sound with his positioning as he stood tall to high shots and scrambled at times to recover the puck when it dropped to the floor.
However, Burger King’s persistence was rewarded with Peter Holowchuk setting up Eric Mildenberger to break the drought. Holowchuk then sent a stretch pass to Curtis Appleyard for a deflection in front of the crease; creating a controversial goal, being disputed on both sides as to whether it beat the buzzer. After deliberation, the goal stood to make it 4-2 at halftime.
Any doubts about Mepco’s game were dismissed one and a half minutes into the second half when Danter put the High Rollers up one more. Danter was back to his game and proving a real problem for the Gamebird forwards to get by on the boards. Danter would finish his night with a goal and two assists but would also rejuvenate Burger King, as his errant pass across the slot went to Rob Leadbetter for an unassisted score.
Burger King were only a goal behind with 10 minutes left. Leadbetter had been pushing his team from the back all night, carrying the puck deep and finding space for passing lanes. Some of the work ethic must have rubbed of on team-mates Devon Malice and Mildenberger, who all of sudden began pressuring the Mepco defence. The pressure on the puck resulted in Mepco’s Hather being called for a double minor (four minutes) with just six minutes to go.
Burger King’s powerplay was motivated but not finding much success for the first two minutes until Curtis Appleyard found Pete Holowchuk on the edge of the crease, who somehow roofed the puck in tight quarters. With still two more minutes remaining on the powerplay, the Gamebirds’ urgency saw the usually placid Holowchuk take matters into his own hands.
Two hard and tight possible game-winning shots were thwarted by Finlason but the relentlessness prevailed with a minute to go through a Mildenberger goal, assisted by Leadbetter and Holowchuk, to tie it up. The High Rollers did not want another shoot-out and Burger King’s Leadbetter and Appleyard would ensure that did not happen.
Leadbetter cleared the puck deep in his zone, bouncing off a Mepco’s player stick, before finding Appleyard breaking down the boards. Appleyard continued on before letting a shot go in close, beating Finlason with just two seconds remaining to give the Gamebirds an 8-7 victory. The Three Stars were Curtis Appleyard, Rob Leadbetter, Pete Holowchuk/Randy Cannon (.854 save percentage).