16S, no. 9; newsletter by c.g.)
What can you say about a Pirate team that goes 0-and-8, yet somehow makes the Playoffs? What reasonable expectation would the Pirates have playing the #3-seed in a division where we were outscored 38-13, and never really threatened in a single game? How about the fact that the Bruins beat us twice solidly during the regular season where they averaged seven goals per game how would you think the odds looked then? Well, it certainly wasn't The Miracle that is now the subject of a major motion picture ... well at least not yet.
The Pirates skated into the Quarterfinals a slight underdog against the Bruins. The Pirates took to the rink with only eight skaters, as they were missing the services of forwards Glenn Farkas and Jimmy Ferraro; as a result, the Pirates went with a five-man forward rotation of #19-Ralz-Wildman-DiPierro-LeMatty, while the defense was manned by Russ-Kevin-Keith. The 1st period began on an ominous note when The Bruins rushed right up and scored a goal on their first shot that glanced-off the top crossbar and dropped in. Just like that the score was 1-0 and the Bruins looked primed for an easy night. Only something happened the Pirates answered back. Midway through the 1st period, Ralz swooped-in and scooped-up a clearing pass from #19; Ralz skated in to the face-off circle where he shot high to Casey's stickside and tied the game in one swift move. Suddenly the Pirates had life, and the jump that had been present from the start looked to be paying dividends. The game took a short pause in the action when the Bruins' Alfano went down hurt, and had to be helped from the floor after he pulled a hamstring; on the play, Alfano broke in all alone and tried to deke Harris, but Harris was up to the task and stuffed the play. The Pirates went into the first intermission tied 1-1, but the feeling was we could play with these guys and, well, who knows?
From this point on in the game it became the LeMatty-Wildman Show, as each of them had a hand in every goal scored from here on out. Harris also stepped his game up and made save after save through the remaining two periods to stymie the punchless Bruins. The first Pirate goal of the 2nd period was scored by Scott when he accepted a beautiful setup from Wildman giving the Pirates their first lead of the playoff game. Russ scored the next goal after he made a move forcing Casey to drop down, then lifted it over him (Wildman again assisted on the play with a hustling forecheck that forced the turnover). The defense was tight throughout as Kevin, Keith and Russ played error free and the few good chances that got by them were easily gobbled-up by Harris. When the 2nd period expired, the Pirates held an improbable 3-1 lead.
The Bruins picked-up a penalty with time expiring in the 2nd and Wildman made them pay less than :20 seconds into the 3rd. On the play John backhanded the puck over Casey during a mad goal-mouth scramble resulting from a Scott LeMatty shot. Suddenly the score was 4-1 and the Bruins were shocked. The rest of the way the Pirate plan was simple: don't get caught deep; dump the puck; and get back on defense. Now we say that a lot during games, but this time the Pirates stuck to it and were rarely, if ever, caught out of position. Scott LeMatty would score the prettiest goal of the game when he sped into the right corner where Casey had come out to play the puck; they both raced to the puck, but Scott made a lunging dive of a shot that found twine as Casey scrambled in vain to get back to his net. The Pirates held on from there, and there was little the Bruins could do as they watched their season come to an end. Amazingly improbably the Pirates advance by winning their first game of the season. A new found confidence, and a glimmer of hope pervaded the lockerroom after the game as the unlikely winners pondered their next opponent. And amazingly the answer to all those questions at the beginning of this newsletter were answered in one simple statement afterwards by Captain Nicolosi: Now that was Pirate hockey.
1) SCOTT LEMATTY
For his tireless play and 2 goals when we needed them most.
2) JOHN CASSENS
The guy who made it all happen with great hustle, and smart play and 3 points.
For always bringing his best to the Playoffs, and this game was no exception. Came up huge when he had to, limiting the Bruins to only one goal.