11W, no. 5; newsletter by b.n.)
It is almost impossible to imagine that just one season ago, the Coastal Pirates had trouble putting away a team like the Geriatrics. Not that I am Gerry-bashing, but based on past seasons you would think that the Coastal Pirates would be in for a spanking when they came up against the O'Neills. In those past games, the O'Neills went by the name of Smashing Pumpkins and, if you spent some time going through the archives on the website, you would find the scores were seriously slanted against us.
So, with all that said, the game began with the line of Farkas-Miller Bros. on offense and Roger-Richardson on defense. For some reason, the game was not following the same script of the earlier games with the O'Neills; the Pirates started out with hustle and were talking it to the them. It was truly weird. Bizarre almost. The Pirates were pressuring the O'Neills in their own zone and were actually coming up with the puck. It seemed like every loose puck ended-up on a stick of a Pirate. Midway into the 1st, the second lines of Wildman-Jimmy-#67 were following the same playing style and the puck continued to go the way of the Pirates. When the Pirates found themselves on a powerplay, it was Russ who picked-up a puck on the near point and fed it to the opposite point where Glen Chambers cranked one up; the puck flipped up in the air and was about to drop to the floor when #67 (standing to the right of the goalie) one-timed it out of the air into the opposite corner and suddenly it was 1-0 Pirates. While the offense and defense where firing on all cylinders, Harris was on his way to finishing the period in stellar style as he steered away every shot that was fired at him. The 1st period ended with the score 1-0.
At some point in the 2nd period, I thought to myself that the 1-0 score might just hold up. The Pirates were playing that well. Later, after Jimmy cranked one off the post, #67 had a wide-open net and he would have had the goal if the goalie didn't throw his stick and deflect the puck out of the rink (there was no penalty on the play ... but that is another story). But it was hard to believe what was unfolding. Then it was Keith who worked a puck in deep off the boards and fed the puck back to Russ on the opposite point. Russ then blasted the puck on net, through a maze of bodies; the puck apparently deflected off one of the defensemen and worked its way behind the goalie for the 2-0 lead. In games past, the Pirates were often susceptible to giving up a goal in situations such like this, but the Pirates were not the same old Pirates this night. With the O'Neills then pressing intensely (and a face-off to Harris's right), it was #67 fighting after the draw and pushing the puck out of the zone; the O'Neill on the point misplayed the puck and Wildman swooped-in and broke out of the zone in full-stride. The O'Neill D was able to get back and tie-up Wildman just before he could get his shot off. In the ensuing pileup, however, the puck was just sitting there in front when Jimmy Ferraro flipped it into the empty net to give us a 3-0 advantage. When was the last time the Pirates had a 3-goal lead on an A-division team late in the 2nd period? Well if you go to vol. 3W, no. 4 you can check out the historic game between the Pirates and the Jags A. Just like this game, the Pirates were playing exceptional and were winning 3-0 (unfortunately, in that game, the Pirates gave up two goals late in the 2nd and then ended-up losing it in the final minutes of the 3rd). But these weren't the Jags A and while many of the same Pirates were still on the roster from that game it was certainly a different team. So, unlike the game against the Jags A, the Pirates were able to stay focused and end the period with the score 3-0 lead intact.
Russ stepped-up between periods and reminded everyone how well the Pirates were playing and how important it was to continue that style in the final period. The Pirates followed their Captain's orders and the strong play continued well into the 3rd. Even after a frightful crash into the boards earlier in the game, Scott Miller was still found in the fray time after time and had a couple of quality scoring chances (unfortunately, Scott suffered a possible season-threatening injury as he separated his shoulder while crashing into the boards while digging-out a puck). As the game went on, it got to the point where the center for the O'Neills stopped trying to win face-offs and just charged through after the puck was dropped and plowed into #67. After two straight face-offs like that, #67 decided on a strategy of stepping around the charging player; as planned, the O'Neill overskated the puck, but unfortunately another O'Neill was able to swat the puck to the point and they were able to beat Harris for the first time of the night. As it turned out it was also the last time as the surreal effort continued and the Pirates won a convincing 3-1 victory over a quality opponent.
Given the stunning victory, you would have thought that the meeting after the game would be a raucous affair with guys like Wildman whooping it up 'til the wee hours of the morning. But as with the game earlier, these Pirates were truly different; after just a brief discussion (and no whooping by Wildman) everyone jumped into their cars and left. What's up with that?
1) THE ENTIRE CREW
In an unprecedented event in Coastal Pirate history, every Pirate will receive a Silver Skull for the extraordinary team effort in this game.