19W, no. 9; newsletter by b.n.)
What idiot schedules a playoff game for 11:00 p.m. at night? Don't answer that, we all know who that is. Using past history as a judge, I thought that the No.1 seeds always got prim time consideration for gametimes during the playoffs; in past, if you won your division you were almost guaranteed to play at either 8 p.m. or 9 p.m., while the later games were reserved for the lower seeds and consolation games. Now before you get your panties in a wad, I realize that there are now three divisions and that more playoff games must be squeezed into the schedule, but there is no reason why the No.1 seeds can't get to play in the three slots between 7-9 p.m. Why do I hate 11:00 p.m. games? Well to be honest with you, 11:00 p.m. games don't bother me. In fact, I would much rather play at 11:00 p.m. then 7:00 p.m. But that is just me. I know other people don't feel that way, and in an effort to bring a clearly-divided country together, I try to see their point of view and — in matters that are purely trivial — I like to fight on their side so when push comes to shove I can claim to be “bipartisan.” The one thing that I must admit about 11:00 p.m. games is that they tend to have a lower turnout then earlier games in the night; for the Coastal Pirates this is not usually an issue, but considering the new playoff rules concerning player eligibility, the Pirates were forced to play with only eight skaters (both Russ and Wildman were scratches on the night due to injuries). As 11:00 p.m. came and went the Pirates looked to be the lucky ones as our first round opponents had only seven skaters and no goalie. No goalie? How does this happen? Well, according to my friend Jack who plays with the Lightning, Bob Brooks was their usual goalie but he decided to play three games earlier in the night and was just too tired to play with the team that he was supposed to play with (Wuss!). So while we all stood around mulling the situation, the referees announced that they were going to give the Lightning 15:00 minutes to come up with a goalie. What? You got to be kidding me. It was late enough already and they wanted to delay the game even later. Some of us have jobs! (I say some because not all of us were concerned. Apparently Mike didn't have to get up until noon the next day, but for the rest of us that 15:00 minutes could make the difference between getting at least a little sleep and waking up still tired — or the difference between standing in the parking lot freezing and making last call at the Boathouse.) While we are still on the subject of granting time extensions before the start of the game, Harris was quick to point out that if the Pirates were the ones that were short the goalie they would have been dropping the puck at 11:00:01.
As it ended-up, the Lighting were able to convince Bob Currao to step into Steve Carr's stinky equipment and stand between the pipes. But before Bob was dressed, the game began; so for the first 8:00 minutes the Lightning played with six skaters and no goalie. You would think a team like the Pirates who were the No.1 seed in the division would be able to take it to the No.4 seed if that said seed was playing without a goalie. Well, if you thought that, you clearly haven't been a loyal reader of the newsletter over the past few seasons. Even though the Pirates talked before the start of the game about how important it was to fire shots on net and put the game away before the goalie stepped on the floor, that was not the way it worked out. To be brutally honest the Lightning were taking it to the Pirates. In those first 8:00 minutes that they played without a goalie, the Lighting kept the puck in the Pirates end and had number of quality chances that, if Harris didn't stick aside, would have put the Pirates in a big hole early. The Pirates meanwhile, didn't manage to put a shot on the empty net. Thankfully for the Pirates, Bobby Currao came onto the rink and rescued the Pirates from what could of been the worst playoff disaster since October 2004. Within 1:00 minute of stepping onto the floor, Currao surrendered a goal to Evan Miller (who was able to bury a loose puck was just sitting in the crease). Soon after, Craig would jump into action when he took a puck down the middle of the floor fired past Bob for the 2-0 lead. Even though I hate to admit it, Bob seemed to do a fairly admirable job in net, coming up with a number of key saves to keep the Lightning in the game. The Pirates looked to take the lead 3-0 when a puck was fired into the Lightning end that deflected off the defenseman and slipped past the somewhat-surprised Currao, but as it turned out, Scotty Miller was slowly skating off the floor from an earlier collision and it was called offsides. So after the 1st period of play, the Pirates led the Lightning 2-0 in the Semifinal game.
The Lightning got back into the game, however, when they scored early in the 2nd to narrow the lead to 2-1. Meanwhile I have been left to ponder who watches the Watchers? Who polices the Police (and how come I can't drive 95 miles per hour)? But most importantly: who referees the Referees? You would think that someone of Bobby Currao's character — a man who spent years refereeing in the Over-30 Leagues; a man who would stand and argue with you until you were blue in the face about how the call he made was correct and you, no matter what you saw, were wrong; a man who's opinion has been respected by his friends and foes alike based on his unbiased history — you would think he would want to protect that reputation. But, as usual you would be wrong. After Mike fed a pass to Jimmy who fired a shot on goal, there was Bob laying on the puck as if he stopped it before it crossed the line. In fact, Bob made a great show of lifting his glove and, lo and behold, there was the puck just outside the goal line; fortunately for us, John Minerva would have none of this as he clearly saw the puck go into the net. The Lightning would not go easy into the night, as no sooner did we jump out to the 3-1 lead then they answered back with a score of their own to make it 3-2. No sooner had Mike scored after taking a great pass from Chris to put the Pirates up 4-2, then the Lightning answered back when the Pirates were unable to clear the zone after a faceoff to again make it a one-goal game (apparently the puck deflected off the stick of #67 before it got past Harris, but they way I look at it the puck was probably going in anyway). The Pirates would finally put the game away when Craig buried his second of the night on a feed from Jimmy and Keith that found its way past Bob after it went through a screen of three or four guys. And — as if his shenanigans in the 2nd period were not enough for you — you should have been at the post-game “meeting” when Bobby Currao wanted a payoff for losing the game. Say it isn't so. Shame on you Bob!
1) JIMMY FERRARO
For his 2 points and for some great two-way play. And for being the Sammy Hagar of the Coastal Pirates.
2) MIKE FARRELL
For getting the GWG (and for his usual strong efforts on the blueline ... except for one play).
3) CRAIG SUDOL
For his 2-goal effort.