9W, no. 5; newsletter by b.n.)
There couldn't have been a more fitting day than 'April Fool's Day' for a team that has played the fool for the last few weeks. After coming off a couple spankings, no one would have been faulted if they thought the joke would be on us. And as it turned out, the Pirates ended the game still searching for their first win of the season on Wednesday night.
Our opponents for the joke-filled affair were the Phantoms, a team that contains many familiar faces (I am forced to say that, because even though we play a number of these guys two or three times a season, the only one I know by name is Downey). There was concern on the part of the Pirates before the game that we would be a little short-handed with less then 8:00 minutes to go before gametime, a number of usually-prompt Pirates were nowhere to be seen. As it turned out, the trio of Dave, Wildman and Roger stumbled in simultaneously; they claimed that they were brewing (and I know at least one of them probably was), but hushed whispers betrayed the fact that a number of the team were concerned that the group had just one too many samples.
As the game began, not only were there familiar faces on the Phantoms, but in the "Stripes" as well; Dave Kurasz whose exploits were covered in the last Wednesday's newsletter was the only referee for the night (And when I find out who sent him a copy of last week's newsletter ... I'll ... well ... I'll think of something to do). Not to get on Dave's case too much, but the only thing worse then his goaltending in the 1st period last week, was the way he was dropping the puck during the game; it's always a bad omen when you take a faceoff and, after the puck is dropped, it bounces over your head.
The game began with yet another line combination on O of Matthews-Farkas-#67, while Chambers, Scooby and Russ rotated on D. With the opening "bounce" of the puck, the Pirates jumped out on the attack and were showing some domination of the puck. When Roger (playing offense how appropriate on April Fool's Day) fed the puck to Wildman, who was cycling down low, there was hush that came over the crowd all two of them. Wildman took the puck and buried it! Just like that the Pirates had the first lead in a game since what seemed like forever. APRIL FOOL'S! No! It's not "April Fool's." It actually happened. I was there. I witnessed it. I am telling The Truth. And the excitement did not stop there; the unlikely pairing of Dave and Farkas on the wings paid dividends later in the period when Dave fed Farkas deep (and I mean deep) in the corner, and Farkas shot a puck from an impossible angle that somehow found the net. APRIL FOOLS! No, once again, it was not a joke, even though on any other night that puck would probably never go in. On this night it seemed to have eyes and the Pirates were looking at the proper end of a 2-0 score after the 1st period.
There wasn't too much chatter on the bench between periods, it was as if the Pirates knew the task at hand and were quietly resolved to carry it through.
The 2nd period began with some strong play all around; the Pirates got right back to business when Scooby took a puck along the far boards and out-muscled the Phantom that was trying to work the puck down low. Scooby was able to push the puck up the boards to #67 who passed it up to Farkas who took off down the right wing. Farkas got a nice shot off and was able to pounce on his own rebound for his second goal of the night. Wow! 3-0. APRIL FOOLS? Nope, it was not a figment of someone's imagination. The Pirates had their first three-goal lead of the season. And Dave was not done yet; when Russ moved the puck up to #67 who was skating down the center of the rink, Dave camped out on the blueline. #67 feathered a pass down the center of the rink that Dave was able to catch up to and suddenly he had a breakaway! You gotta be kidding me! Nope, it happened! Dave made a nifty move and buried the puck for an unbelievable 4-0 lead. That lead would not survive the period though as some miscommunication down low cost Harris the shutout. With #67 covering on defense, Harris was screaming for him to clear one of the Phantoms out from in front of the net. As #67 came back to help, he spied a Phantom all alone behind the net. Harris took this opportunity to push the man out himself and when he did the Phantom blocked #67 from getting to the other player behind the net. With all the confusion (Harris, the Phantom and #67 tangled-up), the Phantom behind the net was able to pick up the loose puck and bury it in the wide-open goal. The Pirates were able to dodge another bullet when Harris got caught out of his net later in the period, but a mass of Pirates converged on the net to prevent the Phantoms from putting one in the vacated net. The 2nd ended with the score of 4-1.
The 3rd showcased some great saves by Harris, who took the opportunity to show Dave Kurasz a thing or two about playing net for the Pirates. The "D" combination of Chambers, Russ and Scooby did a great job limiting the Phantoms to the occasional scoring chance here or there. The O line of Roger-Wildman-Chris were also getting their share of chances. The only thing that wasn't stellar was the face-offs. On one occasion at the end of the game, #67 was instructed to go off-sides to kill some time off the clock (he didn't and he heard the Wrath of Harris).
Earlier in the period with the Pirates on a powerplay, #67 was unable to do anything with a faceoff in the Pirate zone to the left of Harris. The Phantom was able to get the puck on its third or fourth bounce and got the puck back to "Downey" who blasted a shot from the point that deflected off Harris' stick and found the back of the net for a shorthanded goal. This being "April Fool's Day" and all, there was growing concern that it would be the ultimate in pranks if the Phantoms could joke with us by spotting us a four goal lead and then come back to defeat us. The Phantoms pressed deep into the 3rd and -- when Harris wasn't making the save -- the goal post was. Harris cemented the win when the Phantoms were able to strip the puck from one of our D and came in with a breakaway; Harris stood up to the challenge and made an impressive stop.
As noted above, even though the Pirates won the game 4-2, they still have not won a game on a Wednesday night this season (This was a Monday game). The tie with the Gerry's was also on a Monday ... so perhaps the Wednesday team should start searching for a league that plays on Mondays ... APRIL FOOLS!
1) GLENN FARKAS
Two goals for the guy with 2 n's (from an email: Two big goals and a lot of hustle)
2) DAVE MATTHEWS
For his 2-point outing and a very pretty breakaway goal.
For reducing his G.A.A. to less than 8.00 (from emails: Odd man rushes were stopped cold and He came up big on several pivotal moments in the game.)