19W, no. 10; newsletter by b.n.)
For the first time in what seems like forever, the Wednesday Coastal Pirates were smiled upon by the scheduling gods. You only have to go back to last season when each Pirate opponent postponed their games and pushed the playoffs further into the following season; fortunately for the Pirates, they were able to overcome those layoffs in the schedule and still drive for the Championship. This season, the Pirates were proactive and launched an all-out assault on the email server of GoodSports USA in an effort to avoid playing the Championship game on the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving. The most amazing thing was that the request was granted by Scott “What's in the Hopper?” Baldwin and the Pirates were set to play the Ducks on the Monday before Thanksgiving. And if that wasn't a stroke of fortune, by virtue of finishing in 1st place in their division on Sunday Night, the Sunday Pirates had a bye the night before as the Wave and Rink Rats battled it out to see who would have the honor of playing the Pirates for the Sunday Championship. So the Pirates were able to step on the rink well-rested for the Finals against the Ducks (except for #67 who doesn't play for the Pirates on Sunday, but instead spent Sunday night playing “Iron Man” hockey trying with all his might to will the Rink Rats to the Finals vs. the Pirates — of which, he was not successful). The Pirates were sporting an uncharacteristically heavy roster as they sported a eleven skaters plus a goalie; I'm not privy to exactly how that worked out, but you can rest assured that it was probably Wildman's fault. The lines for the night consisted of Russ, Craig, Jimmy, Chris, Scott Miller and Evan on offense, with Wildman on the bench saying that he just wanted to “test his leg” for Sunday. On “D” was #67 (who, incidentally, scored 20 goals on Sunday — including two in the Semifinals — but still couldn't lead his team to the Finals), Mike, Dave and Keith.
As the game got underway, both the Pirates and the Ducks had their share of chances. The scariest moment in the 1st period came when Harris came just outside his crease to play the puck with #67 skating back towards the net and a Duck right behind: Harris had the puck out in front of him with his glove in the air overtop of it (giving the impression that he was going to either push it to # 67 or cover it and take the face-off); for some bizarre reason, Harris did neither, and the Duck was able to swat the puck past Harris — fortunately, the Duck overskated the loose puck and the Pirates were able to clear it before anything really bad happened. The Pirates gained a powerplay in the 1st when Dave must have goaded someone into taking a swat at him, but the Ducks were able to kill it off. The Pirates were finally able to break the gridlock, however, when Jimmy Ferraro stepped onto the rink for a line change and received a perfect pass on his tape well behind the Duck's “D” who were trying to keep the puck in the zone; Jimmy skated into the zone all alone and scored on the breakaway to give the Pirates a 1-0 lead. Later in the period — still clinging to a 1-0 lead — someone decided that it was as good a time as any to send Wildman on to the floor to see how his broken leg was holding up (supposedly Wildman went to the doctor and was told that the leg was not broken, but my guess would be that his doctor was a bigger “quack” then our opponents on the night). To say Wildman looked bad would be an understatement — he could barely move. The only thing that saved him was that when his leg finally did give way, the Duck that he grabbed onto pushed him back, sending both of them to the penalty box. The 1st period would end with the Pirates holding the 1-0 lead with just 22:00 minutes between them and a Championship.
As the 2nd and final period got going, the Pirates continued to play hard and come up with some great chances (Craig had a great breakaway chance, but was stoned by the goalie on his initial shot who then sprawled to stuff him on the ensuing rebound). There were a number of other great plays as everyone on the Pirates stepped-up. Even so, this was a Championship game and the Wednesday Pirates have an unfortunately well-documented history of blowing leads in these games. So, with around 6:00 minutes remaining, Captain Russ Nicolosi called a time-out to settle down the troops. As the puck was readied to be dropped, the Ducks pulled a maneuver that I have only seen in football when the opposing team tries to “ice” the kicker — they called for their own time-out. Perhaps the Ducks thought that back-to-back time-outs would throw Harris off his game (Harris to this point had been spectacular, making every save that he was called-upon to make). In any event, their plan backfired as the the Pirates were able to press the puck deep into the Ducks zone forcing their “D” to play the puck before they wanted to; Scott Miller (who scored the crucial second goals in each of the playoff games the previous season) was able to pick up the puck along the boards and fire an off-angle shot from just below the faceoff circle past Brooks to give the Pirates the 2-0 lead. If Scott's goal gave the Pirates some breathing room, then the third goal scored by Craig definitely cooked the Ducks chances — a three-goal lead late looked to be impenetrable even to the most historic of Pirates collapses. The only thing that remained was to preserve the shut-out for Harris, who did it himself by gloving the final shot as the horn sounded on the Wednesday Night Pirates second consecutive Championship. Can someone say “Threepeat”?
Special “Web-Bonus” content from #67:
By the way, Harris' play in the 1st might have been the scariest play of the game, but the scariest moment of the night (for me anyway) was on the ride home after a very subdued celebration at McCann's. I was driving down Route 138 and taking the jughandle onto Route 18 when the guy in front of me decided that it would be a good idea to back their car up the ramp; as I slammed on my breaks, I don't know what I was more scared of — slamming into the idiot in front of me, or having Wildman slam into the back of me because he can't operate his car with a broken leg! Fortunately tragedy was averted and we will all live to play again.
For posting the zero in the Finals.
2) JIMMY FERRARO
For his 1st period goal that proved to be the GWG — or is it CWG (“Championship Winning Goal”)?
3) RUSS NICOLOSI
For making his comeback from the D.L. just in time for the big game.