Mepco continues to skate strong

The Mepco High Rollers remain a serious threat in local roller hockey.

Mepco notched another victory in the Kings Sports Centre inline hockey league, edging the Deloitte Sharks 7-4. The contest was destined to be a thriller with both Mepco and Deloitte bringing all their heavy hitters. Deloitte moved the puck well with captain Rob Rintoul entering his creative mode.

That coupled with Tim Derksen finding good chances, through being a pest around Mepco’s crease, ignited the Shark attack. Eventually, the Rollers’ Darryl Hather began driving Deloitte’s net to reverse the trend. When team-mate Derek Bruce tapped in a juggled shot from Scott Somerville, Hather’s task may have been considered fulfilled.

Hather would also block a shot in his own end, retrieve the puck, skate up rink and score; showing he is more than simply the third-best assists man in the league.

The first five minutes of the second half had a quick flurry of goals with Deloitte’s Derksen getting his team on the board from a deceptive shot in the high slot. Any chances of a Sharks rally were quickly dispelled when Mepco’s effective forward line of Bruce and Somerville conjured up another score. Somerville, in an almost duplicate goal, shot on net with the puck falling loose with Bruce poking in the rebound.

Mepco’s forwards were linking up and Chris Creighton wasn’t about to be left out. Seeing team-mate Ryan Pull working the puck in the corner under pressure, Creighton managed to get a pass straight to his stick and beat goalie Scott Hughes to make it 6-1 Mepco.

Deloitte’s Rintoul would take notice, cruising from the side at two thirds rink and going East to West before letting a shot go that found the net. Rintoul would get another strike with a long-range snipe following a Tim Courtis assist. Courtis seemed to be on a late mission, taking things into his own hands by forcing drives to the net.

Team-mate Dan Etherington must have sensed Courtis’ mission, positioning himself far post for a wide open, easy score. Ultimately, Deloitte’s last surge would be too little, too late. Three Stars: Derek Bruce, Scott Somerville, Rob Rintoul.

Jagger Hope for the Cayman Hot Sauce Flames set the tone in game one. He would win the opening face-off and create a move deep into Burger King Gamebirds zone. Both teams were passing well with the puck, moving end-to-end. Burger King registered the first tally, with Pete Holowchuk sending a stretch pass to Curtis Appleyard for a breakaway opportunity.

Appleyard’s shot was seen well by goalie Jeremy Olynik, who got a partial glove to it and sent it high but the puck toppled down behind him and into the net. It would be a strange night of bobbles for Olynik, with two more later on finding their way in from behind; courtesy of Burger King’s Devon Malice and Ken Ritchie.

Ritchie’s work ethic was admirable, moving the puck up rink with creative moves, finding Appleyard with intuitive passes and forcing drives towards the net. All a game much different from that, only a few months ago when Ritchie was still somewhat getting his feet under him and now an inspiration for his team.

Nearing the end of the half, the Gamebirds were finding their stride and the Flames seemed to be resorting to unforced turnovers despite a strong surge. The Birds’ systematic East-West play was creating chances that just weren’t being capitalized on. Perhaps those chances ignited the squad later, with a big far post save from Randy Cannon just before half-time putting the score at 3-1 in favour of the Birds.

Momentum swings in hockey are strange things, often benefitting the unexpected and did so shortly into the second when the Flames’ Gordon Mattison corralled a given puck centre rink and then charged towards Cannon on a breakaway to score. Despite the goal, Cannon was sharp in net and also mentally sharp out of it, charging from his crease to the blue line to stop goal scoring opportunities.

Cannon’s calmness shined when he handled the puck in pressure situations and it gave reassurance to his team who knew that they, for the most part, only have to score goals.

As it turns out, scoring goals is a habit for the Gamebirds’ Eric Mildenberger. Just 13 minutes into the half, Mildenberger was beginning to make things happen. Skating with speed, he was continually threatening by carrying the puck well into the Hot Sauce zone, leaving defencemen unsure of his intentions.

Mildenberger’s efforts would be rewarded when, from the outside edge of Flames’ face-off circle, he released a quick shot that somehow found it’s way near post past Olynik.

With the game pretty much in the bag, the Birds’ Appleyard confirmed it with 55 seconds left, linking with Pete Holowchuk and Rob Leadbetter to make it a 7-2 win for the Gamebirds. Three Stars: Curtis Appleyard, Randy Cannon (.938 save percentage), Ken Ritchie.

The next regular season contest take place on Tuesday, 27 November, from 8pm at Kings.

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