10W, no. 10; newsletter by b.n.)
It's been a long time since the Wednesday Night Pirates appeared in a Championship game. For those of us that are WeNOs (Wednesday Night Only), we could only sit back and jealously read about the exploits of the Sunday Night team with their consecutive Championships. So after many seasons of disappointment (and this season that was prolonged due to a major structural problem with the rink), the Wednesday Night Pirates were forced to wait even longer as the start of the title game was delayed so that sections of the floor were removed and an excessive amount of water was sucked out. When the game finally began, we found ourselves up against our new favorite nemesis the Phantoms. It seems like just yesterday that the Phantoms were knocking off the helmets of players such as #67 (with no penalties being called) or slewfooting players such as Dave Matthews (who sat out last night's game due to the injury sustained from said slewfoot). So, with that in mind, all the Pirates were expecting a battle. It didn't help matters when one of the Pirates was told by a GoodSports source that a member of Phantoms (while passing the trophy display) said Yeah, the Pirates can pick up their Runner-up Plaque right now.
When the puck was finally dropped for the long-awaited Championship game, it was LeMatty-Farkas-Snyder representing the offense while Russ-#67 were on defense. From the first face-off, the Pirates were dominating the play and kept the puck in the Phantoms' end. The Phantoms were trying to push the puck up the near boards of their own end when #67 picked up the puck at the point and fed a wide-open Russ who had drifted to the center of the rink; Russ blasted the puck along the floor and gave the Pirates the early 1-0 lead at the 14:20 mark. The next line of the Miller Bros-Chris on offense and Roger-Chambers on defense were witness to one of the most bizarre plays of the night. According to the Official Pirate Press Release, the first goal of the game was spotted to the Phantoms. That was it, no explanation, no nothing. I tried to write what actually happened on the play, but since you didn't read it, it is obvious that someone just edited it out. In past seasons, such an incident might have led to a letdown by the Pirates, but not on this night. Later in the 1st, it was Russ down the left boards and hitting a streaking Allen down the center of the rink; Allen reached out and tipped the puck past the Phantoms' goalie to give us back the lead at the first break, 2-1.
The 2nd period saw the Pirates getting plenty of chances, but nothing was going in. After our second unsuccessful powerplay of the evening, Evan Miller was sent to the penalty box for a slashing call and the Pirates were called upon to fight off their first shorthanded situation. When Frequent Pirate Killer (and since nobody knows his name we will just call him that he's the short speedy guy that always gives us trouble) picked up the puck in his own end, Glenn Farkas was all over him; unfortunately, he was picked off by a couple of the Phantoms and FPK broke loose and skated in with a head of steam. Russ forced him to the outside, but he was able to get around Russ and blast a shot over Harris's right shoulder before #67 could get over to help. The Pirates would come out of the 2nd with the score knotted at 2-2.
As the 3rd period started, everyone knew that the next goal would be critical. So when Roger took a pass from Evan in the corner and blasted a shot past the goalie for the 3-2 lead, the Pirates were exuding confidence. However, there was still about 9:00 minutes remaining and it was none other than The Guy Roger Formerly Referred to as Arroyo who redirected a shot from the blueline past Harris to tie the game at 3-3 for an unprecedented third time. Did the Pirates Choke? Did they give up? Hell no. Just a few moments after the Phantoms tied it, #67 fired a puck out of the zone (and it must be noted that this was done in direct contradiction to Russ who was screaming for #67 to settle the puck down and skate with it); the puck deflected off a skate and was picked up by Scott LeMatty who carried the puck in and scored to give the Pirates the 4-3 lead. With less than 5:00 minutes remaining in the game, things looked good for the Pirates. Unfortunately, the Phantoms were not going to roll over and give up. They were able to tie the game yet again on a goal that somehow got past Harris.
If someone asked me way back on May 22, 2002 if I would be happy to be playing in a Championship game tied at 4-4 with less then 3:00 minutes remaining, I would not have hesitated for a millisecond to respond in the affirmative. After winning just one game in the regular season, you couldn't help being satisfied with where the team was at this particular moment in time. After surrendering a lead four times in the game, the Pirates responded each time by scoring the next goal .... hmmm, sounds good in hindsight, but let's face it, we all wanted to win that game, irregardless (or maybe it is regardless) of what may have happened earlier in the season. So when the Phantoms scored their fifth goal for their first lead of the night there were not too many smiles on the Pirate bench. The Phantoms would add an emptynetter to close the books on the longest season.
1) GLENN FARKAS
For playing with a ton of heart and making one great play after another including a bunch of blocked shots (ouch!).
2) ALLEN SNYDER
For a clutch playoff goal, when clutch was the name of the game.
3) BRIAN NEWCOMB
For willingly moving to defense and playing a solid game that included two assists.