9S, no. 11; newsletter by c.g.)
A new record was established Sunday, as the Pirates beat the Blizzard to wrap up the regular season. No, the record had nothing to do with wins, goals scored or even some grand point totals, but instead it is the record for the latest arrival to a game of any Pirate player; this dubious honor went to Wildman as he suited-up (sans pads) for only the final shift of the game, but more on that later... The Pirates had a short bench with only eight skaters and a replacement goalie. Noticeably absent, besides Harris and the previously-mentioned Cassens, included Pirate leading-scorer Jimmy Ferraro and defensive stalwart (and Wednesday-season's Norris Trophy winner) Ed "Scooby" Southworth.
Play in the 1st period was of the usual hard-fought variety whenever these two teams meet with lots of hustle, and a little scrappiness from both sides. Doug Collimore filling in as netminder did an impressive job of keeping the Blizzard off the board for most of the period, but as the 1st period wound down, the Blizzard took a 1-0 lead.
The defensive corps of Russ, Roger and Matthews stepped-up their games in the 2nd, and turned away nearly every Blizzard advance; the few that did find their way through were shut down easily by Collimore. The Pirates offense was also starting to generate some sustained pressure, and you knew it was only a matter of time before we converted one. Glenn Farkas got the scoring started as he put a perfectly-placed pass from Ralz over the sprawled goalie to knot the game at 1-1. On that particular shift LeMatty Ralz, and Farkas were setting up some nice plays, but couldn't make the effort payoff until Farkas stuffed it home. The 2nd period ended 1-1, but with the Pirates (a little out of position) coming on.
Russ opened-up the scoring in the 3rd period as he corralled a loose puck after an offensive zone face-off. He then deked around a player deep in the corner expecting to find another Blizzard player waiting as he drove towards the net; surprisingly, Russ instead found himself alone looking at the goalie and a whole lot of net. Everyone knows that you put Russ in that sort of situation he is going to score and sure enough that's what he did, picking off the upper corner with ease. Russ wasn't finished scoring though as he received a pass, back at his point position from Goione (who had just swooped-in to pick the puck up behind the net); Russ threw the puck on net hoping to create an opportunity in front, but the puck bounced and found its way past the goalie for the 3-1 lead. That lead would be short-lived, however, as the Blizzard brought the game to within one as they were able to beat an incredibly-stingy Collimore with 1:34 remaining. With a timeout and some new found life the Blizzard attempted to bring this game back even.
This is about the time when I noticed Wildman skate onto the rink. The Blizzard mounted some good pressure after having pulled their goalie, but weren't able to get a clean shot off. Finally, the puck was cleared down the length of the ice and was rolling on edge right towards the Blizzard goal when a hustling Wildman reached out and stuck it in approximately 1-foot before the goal line. That's how the game ended with a dramatic 4-2 victory.
1) RUSS NICOLOSI
For his 2 goals and great effort all night and also for keeping the team organized.
2) DOUG COLLIMORE
For a strong effort in net and possibly cementing our playoff hopes.
3) JOHN CASSENS
Although he showed-up way late, he still dressed and hustled to help preserve the win (and even scored!).