21W, no. 2; newsletter by b.n.)
It's a good thing Russ doesn't read the newsletter, for if he did he would be reading this right now. Not that it is a problem that he may be reading this right now, but if he were to be reading this, that would mean that he would have read other newsletters. And that could be bad. Not bad in good sense either, but bad. And not the Michael Jackson pajama-wearing “Bad” — but honestly and truly bad. What could be so bad about Russ reading the newsletter? Well, if Russ is to be believed, he apparently made overtures to Harris about securing his “old” spot on Wednesday night. Why is that such a big thing? Well, I was pretty certain that I covered that last week when I indicated that #67 originally said that he was not returning for a season, but then had a change of heart after the Wednesday night schedule was posted — a schedule, I might add, is more of a Monday night season. But no matter. For whatever reason, Russ seemed to be on the warpath before the start of the game, bemoaning the fact that his spot on the roster had been hijacked. They say “Hell hath no fury like a lover scorned,” but “they” certainly don't know Russ — for if “they” did, they would have to update that to be “Hell hath no fury like Russ after he has been screwed out of his Wednesday night spot.”
The second game of the season was against the Jags and is the first of our three consecutive Monday night games. On the full bench for the Pirates were Keith-Dave on defense, while Chris-Jimmy-Craig were to start the second shift on offense. Meanwhile, on the floor for the drop of the puck, Roger-#67 were manning the blueline while Russ stepped into the “MNM” line (featuring the Miller Bros.). The Pirates applied some early pressure when they were able to cycle the puck in the Jags end. Things got going early when Evan banked a puck back to the point from behind the Jags' net where #67 quickly pounced on it and cranked a slapshot that had to be at least 10-feet wide of the net; perhaps it was his subconscious mind redirecting his muscle motion, perhaps guilt had something to do with it, but for whatever reason the shot turned out to be an awesome feed to Russ who redirected it into the net for the first goal of the night. That unlikely duo continued the action later in the 1st period when #67 took the puck down the right wing and fed Russ once again who “shuffleboarded” the puck into the net for the 2-0 lead. Although the Pirates only had a two-goal lead, they seemed to have the game well in hand as they were dictating the flow and keeping the puck in the offensive zone.
The Jags however, slashed that lead in half during the final period, when they broke in on the right wing on a 1-on-1; in one of those things that only seems to happen against the Pirates, the Jag guy lost control of the puck as he tried to go around Dave, but somehow the puck reappeared on his stick and he was able to put a move on Harris right in front of the crease that put the Jags on the board. After Evan did an excellent job working the puck loose in the corner, he fed the puck out to Russ; now, for those of you familiar with EA Sports' NHL 2003, there is a feature called “Game Breaker” where when you hit it everything slows down — well, obviously Russ has his own version of “Game Breaker” because after he received the puck from Evan everyone on the rink froze (it was actually somewhat eerie as a silence settled over the rink); after what seemed like an eternity, Russ made a little move to the right and deked the goalie before rifling the puck shortside for his umpteenth career hattrick as a Pirate. While I'm on the subject of Russ, I must make mention of Harris. Every once in a while, I forget to mention him in the newsletter. I actually had every intention of mentioning any number of his critical saves in the game against the Jags, but after he emailed me the stats, I realized that it would not be necessary. According to Harris on a shot from the right side he was able to make the blocker save and then push the puck up to Chris who, in turn, shuffled the puck up to Jimmy who was streaking out of the zone; Jimmy then carried the puck into the Jags end and cut to the center of the rink before firing the puck into the upper right corner of the net and giving Harris his first assist of the young season. That was not it for Jimmy, however, as late in the period he found himself with the puck behind the Jags' net in need of a man in front; Craig, meanwhile, was standing next to Harris handing him his water bottle that had been displaced from atop the the net just moments earlier. Looking up and seeing Jimmy with the puck, Craig started calling for it as he took off skating in the Jag end; Jimmy still had the puck when Craig broke into the zone, and he hit him with a great feed that Craig rocketed into the net to cap off the night's scoring. But with every high, there is a low: With less than 2:00 minutes remaining, last season's Norris Trophy winner, Keith Richardson, had to be helped off the ice after one of the Jags fell down and he went over sideways (we won't disclose the nature of Keith's injuries in this newsletter that can be read by our opponents, but he's tentative for Monday's game vs. the Lumberjacks).
So with a comfortable 5-1 win and some quality team play by the Pirates, that left Russ only one thing to talk about at the post-game “meeting”: How Harris screwed him out of his roster spot by letting #67 come back. Fortunately, Russ doesn't read the newsletters or that would be bad that I mentioned that.
date of game: 3.14.05
1) RUSS NICOLOSI
For scoring the first 3 goals of the night and 6 points in his last two games.
2) BRIAN NEWCOMB
For his two helpers on the night, and filing the newsletter within 48 hours of the actual game.
For some nice glove saves — especially on #67 who made several quality scoring attempts on him.