17S, no. 9; newsletter by b.n.)
Going into the Sunday Semifinals, the Coastal Pirates (2-6-0) drew the Dire Wolves (7-1-0). Oh, the excitement. Oh, the drama. Oh, what was Chris thinking? Yes, with just eight skaters, Chris suggested that we start the game with six players on “O,” while Keith and Kevin would go Ironman on “D.” To that end, #67 took the floor with Glenn Farkas and Scott LeMatty while Chris, Tim Hand and Wildman sat waiting on the bench. I must have missed the puck that flew onto the bench and slammed into the side of Chris' head, because it knocked some sense into him, and it was soon decided to slide #67 back to “D.”
The aforementioned Chris Goione would get things going in the 1st period when he picked-up a puck in our own zone and fired a pass up to Wildman, who fed the puck to Scott Lematty, who put the Pirates on the board. The Dire Wolves would answer back later in the period with some fancy passing of their own when they capitalized on a 2-on-0 and tied the score at 1-1. With about 1:00 minute remaining in the 1st, the Pirates were would take a penalty; during the kill, Glenn Farkas and former-Pirate Eddie Gesior were pounding it out in the corner and both were sent to the box, but the play remained a 5-on-4 Wolves advantage. With the final seconds expiring in the period, Keith fed the puck to Kevin who skated just inside the Dire Wolves zone and blasted a shot through a screen provided by the Wolves' Smith for the shorthanded tally. With that goal at the :08 mark, the Pirates emerged from the 1st period leading the heavily-favored, #1-seeded Dire Wolves, 2-1. (editor's note: during the pre-game skate, Kevin was skeptical about the performance of his new wooden stick that he substituted for the expensive composites that he kept breaking.)
In all my years covering the Coastal Pirates, I have been witness to many bizarre events: Monumental wins, horrendous collapses — I thought I had seen it all. But when Chris won the opening face-off of the 2nd period back to Kevin, an unbelievable feat occurred; Kevin proceeded to skate through the entire Dire Wolves roster, and then he scored his second shorthanded goal of the night — and both on the same penalty kill! (editor's note: did we mention that Kev was using a new stick?!) Not many teams can survive a night when they let in two shorthanded goals, but the Dire Wolves were not giving in; once again, they were able to convert on some nice passing and pull to within one goal, 3-2. Before the 2nd period buzzer sounded, however, Keith got the puck to Chris who was able to get the puck to Tim, who skated the puck up the right wing and beat the Dire Wolves goalie with a wicked wrister on the shortside. The goals gave the Pirates their two-goal advantage back as both teams went into the second break.
As the 3rd began, the game was taking on a “chippy” edge: About 3:00 minutes into the period, Bill Notley (the Dire Wolves #3 thug), drove Tim Hand face first into the corner behind Harris; with the refs quickly blowing the play dead, Notley was quick to defend his play, but as it turns out the refs weren't blowing the play dead due to the vicious check — instead, they were stopping play because the impact of Tim's face into the glass knocked a section of the plexiglas out. During the extended delay (while Bob “Mr. Goodwrench” Corrao repaired the glass), the Pirates took the opportunity to remind each other how the Zombies had rallied for two goals the previous week after a long stoppage at the end of the 3rd. Determined to make certain that history did not repeat itself, the Pirates emerged from the stoppage with the intensity to match the increasingly desperate Dire Wolves. When Kevin tallied his third goal of the night (editor's note: ok, we're never letting Kevin switch back to composite sticks), the Pirates were able to breathe a little easier. But until the final whistle, you never know — we are the Pirates after all!
1) KEVIN MCLAUGHLIN
For his hattrick that sealed the Wolves fate (Kevin became only the third Pirate to score 3 goals in a playoff game).
2) BRIAN NEWCOMB
For playing one of his best defensive games — not allowing any goals while he was on the ice.
3) CHRIS GOIONE
For his 3-point night and Captaining the team (in the absence of the Captain) to a spot in the Finals.