14S, no. 10; newsletter by c.g.)
This week the Pirates laced them up for a game against the A-division Flyers, who themselves were coming off a whitewashing of the Blackhawks the week before. For the second game in a row (Wednesday being the other), the Pirates faced a team with a short bench as the Flyers only had five skaters to our eight. On defense the Pirates rotated the trio of Richardson-Scooby-McLaughlin, while the forward five consisted of LeMatty-Wildman-Goione-Farkas-Ralz. The talk before the game was to try and keep Blum off the board, as he was the Flyers best skater.
The game started with a flurry, as the Flyers pressed hard for the first several minutes. Everyone was confident they could not keep up this pace it was just a matter of surviving the initial onslaught. Harris had to make some big saves early, and was able to get everyone. By the midpoint of the 1st period the game had settled in to a more evenly-paced affair, as both sides were getting good chances only to be thwarted by quality goaltending. Doug Collimore, manning the pipes for the Flyers, stopped a breakaway bid by #19 midway through the 1st which could have opened the scoring. Instead it was that Blum guy who converted on a breakaway of his own with a wicked wrister over Harris' right shoulder. The period ended with that being the only score. Even trailing 1-0, the Pirates felt good and the Flyers seemed a little surprised.
The 2nd period was more of the same as both teams skated hard and got numerous golden chances only to be turned away. On defense the Pirates were looking particularly impressive as they blocked shots or broke up rushes. On the offensive side, there were some great opportunities that just wouldn't go as Wildman had some great efforts in front and LeMatty got robbed on a 2-on-1 play late in the period. Though both teams had chances, the score would remain at 1-0 to end the 2nd. If you had told me prior to the game that we would be losing 1-0 at the end of two periods, I would have taken it and liked our chances; after all, they had to be tiring and it seemed with the chances we were getting they couldn't keep us off the board all night.
The 3rd period started out a little slower than the first two as both teams tried to find a way to solve the other's goalie. The Flyers would strike first when Blum tallied his second of the evening, early on in the period. With a 2-0 lead the mood on the bench was still pretty high and with 7:00 minutes remaining the Pirates finally put one past Collimore to draw within one (the play which began when Ralz kept the puck alive after it landed on the Flyer netting resulted when Scooby fed McLaughlin for the blast from the point). As play went on, the Flyers were definitely showing the effects of having no subs and just began icing the puck. Now this wouldn't be a typical Pirate game without some controversy, and up to this point the game looked anything but typical. But as it always seems to happen controversy would again raise it's ugly head as the Flyers took a desperately needed time-out at the 4:00 minutes remaining mark. The first bit of controversy came in the form of the Flyers getting what was more like a 2:00 minute time-out significantly more than the standard. Sure enough right after the extended time-out the Flyers would add another goal when a pass was intercepted, for the 3-1 lead. Both teams lined up, and after some quick play the puck was held for a face-off deep in the Flyers' zone; with 1:44 remaining in the game #19 called for a time-out to stop the clock and formulate some strategy for pulling Harris this is where the real controversy comes in, because it seems everyone on the rink except the two referees heard the yelling for the time-out; so instead of a time-out, we got another face-off and the Flyers raced right down and launched a weird 9-iron shot that looped over Harris into the goal for number four. Naturally no one was happy about it, but Bobby swears he didn't hear the call.
So the game ended at 4-1 which is not at all indicative of how the game played out. The play of the team was extremely solid with all players really hustling. The defense was stellar all evening and the forwards definitely had their opportunities. Harris played like it was the playoffs, making one great save after the next. This was certainly one of this season's finer efforts, and will hopefully carry over into next week against a surprisingly stumbling Blizzard team.
1) KEVIN MCLAUGHLIN
For great D and a great blast that put us on the board and made it interesting.
2) ED SOUTHWORTH
For several blocked shots (at point blank as usual!).
3) KEITH RICHARDSON
The last link in the chain of three defenseman (all Pirate Norris Trophy winners, by the way). He also played outstandingly.