18W, no. 16; newsletter by b.n.)
The Wednesday Coastal Pirates have played in a fair amount of Championship games; unfortunately, they have lost what seems to be more then their fair share of these. But I'm getting ahead of myself ...
Way back in May, if you asked me if I would be happy going into a Final tied 2-2 going into the 3rd period, I would have told you to go f#$k yourself. That is because I no longer answer those questions. Whenever I do, bad things happen. As it turned out, the Semifinals game that was scheduled in August was postponed because the Phantoms couldn't play that night; next, the Championship was postponed two weeks because the Coyotes couldn't make it. As a result, many of the Wednesday Pirates, they had played only twice in the last month. Not such a good thing when you were looking to carry the momentum from a successful season into a successful playoff run.
As the Pirates took to the rink, it looked like the might be in trouble as the Coyotes were passing the puck crisply and controlling play in the Pirates' end and the Pirates were chasing the puck and looking a little disorganized. Based on that first shift, it looked like it was going to be an ugly night. For the record, the Pirates had two full lines for the Final: On offense there was Wildman centering the Miller Bros. and Craig-Chris-Jimmy; on defense, the combos were Keith-#67 and Dave-Russ (who arrived while the game was underway after commuting from Delaware). Things started to look like the deck was stacked against us when Dave Matthews was sent to the penalty box, followed during the penalty kill by Keith Richardson, which setup a :27 seconds of 5-on-3 for the Coyotes. The Pirates killed-off both penalties, but just :10 seconds after the last penalty expired, the Coyotes netted the first goal of the night to take a 1-0 lead. Before the 1st period was over, however, the Pirates tied the game on a great feed from Jimmy (on the right wing) to Craig, who was crashing the net. So at the first buzzer things were knotted-up 1-1.
The Coyotes began the 2nd period much like they started the 1st: Skating hard, chasing pucks, and throwing elbows. This strategy worked for them as only :30 seconds into the period they were able to intercept a clearing pass and light the lamp to regain the lead, 2-1. And that goal was followed by 14:30 minutes of scoreless hockey to close out the period.
Fortunately, no one could ask me if I would be satisfied to go into the 3rd period of the Finals tied 2-2, because we were, in fact, trailing 2-1. Of course, as the clock ticked down below the 9:00-minute mark in the 3rd period, you couldn't blame the Pirates if they were a little concerned. While I am on the subject of the Pirates, the Sunday squad has all the great slogans: Back to Back; Worst to First! The Wednesday team, on the other hand, doesn't have any of those. Judging from some of the seasons where we finished first during the regular season and then lost in the first round, you might have a slogan like Heroes to Zeros but that doesn't look as cool on a T-shirt. I often wondered why the Wednesday Pirates couldn't get it done while the Sunday Pirates were winning what seemed like every season. All that changed, however, at the end of the second game of the season if you were to go back and read the newsletter, you would not even see a mention of it though. Perhaps it never happened, but it has quietly motivated me for the entire season; in that game, Keith Richardson finally broke the curse of BB when he fired a shot from the point that tied the game against the Ducks with less then :05 seconds to play. That shot became the Refuse to Lose chant that was shouted before every game, and Reverse the Curse became my quiet rallying call. So was there any doubt that when Evan Miller fired a puck from the left wing that rebounded to his brother Scott, he would bury it past a diving goalie? (That would be Scott's second critical goal as he had another crucial tying goal in the Semis.) Well, actually there was a lot of doubt; the game was still just tied 2-2 and the Pirates had been here before (and lost). So was there any doubt when Chris got the puck to Craig who broke in the right wing and fired a great shot, that Jimmy Ferraro would bury the rebound? Well, once again, we'd been there, done that (and lost). So for all the Wednesday-only Pirates, who had suffered through the worst of it, you could not blame them if they didn't start to breathe just a little easier until Craig fed Chris for the goal that put the Pirates up 4-2. Suddenly a game that seemed like the Coyotes were in control blew wide open in favor of the Pirates. The Pirates would even add two more tallies in an unprecedented show of firepower when Craig picked-up his second goal on a feed from #67, and Jimmy picked-up his second from a pass from Chris. And, as the final buzzer sounded, the Pirates had won 6-2. Other than the final game of the regular season, the Wednesday Pirates made good on their new motto: Refuse to Lose!
1) CRAIG SUDOL
For his 4-point, 2-goal effort.
2) JIMMY FERRARO
He only played a few games, but this was a keeper — he tallied 2 goals (including the game-winner).
3) KEITH RICHARDSON
For his domination of the blueline.