26S, no. 11; newsletter by h.s.)
The Championships for Sunday league was just as it was always meant to be — the battle of the top two teams for the Title. There were no underdogs here; no Cinderella-stories (like the Wednesday night crew). The Sunday Pirates had compiled a division-winning 8-1 record — the best in franchise history for a nine-game season — and suffered only one loss ... yes, you guessed it, to the Chiefs. The two teams had split games during the regular season, but the Chiefs had waited until their second meeting (when the Pirates were without Russ and Kevin) to spoil the bid for a perfect record. Still, none of it mattered now. Each team had glided through the Playoffs and this Title was up for grabs.
Ok, enough scene-setting ... The Pirates had all hands on deck for the Finals: Russ, LeMatty, Wildman (toughing it out since he had hurt a hamstring in the Semis), DiPierro, Farkas, Gucci, Joe Baio, Kevin, Ralz, and Brooks (playing in first Final in as many seasons for the Pirates). Alternate captain Chris Goione (due back in January) was on the bench to boost morale and photograph the proceedings for posterity.
The game had an ominous start when in the opening 1:00-minute a Chief broke down center ice and flipped a shot on net; I blockered it away, but the rebound landed directly on his blade and he lifted it into the open net before Gucci came crashing in and took me, the net and most everything else into oblivion. Considering the previous two meetings of these teams were low-scoring affairs (2-1 and 3-2), this wasn't the kind of start the Pirates wanted. The rest of the 1st period was a test of wills with each defense stifling most quality chances. Finally, at about the 13:00-minute mark, LeMatty tied things up 1-1 (assist to DiPierro) and that score still held when both teams headed to the bench for the break.
There was little open ice to be found in the final period either. The evil #67 (playing for the Chiefs this night) had a great opportunity late when he banged one off the post. Most of the evening #67 had spent in our crease and, with 5:00-minutes remaining, I was whistled for a cross-checking penalty while clearing him out; fortunately our special teams killed that off. As the final minutes ticked-off it looked like overtime was a certainty. Before the game, Brooks had promised a hattrick, but when he broke a skate during his first shift (a fineable offense in such an important game) it seemed to foreshadow his ill-fortune, as he was stopped on every shot and tied-up on all his attempts. But with 1:00-minute remaining, Russ (channeling Herb Brooks) called a crucial timeout to set-up an offensive-zone face-off: Russ stacked the shooting lanes and Wildman beat #67 and chased down the puck against the boards; with the final seconds ticking-off, LeMatty got a hold of it and passed it over to Brooks in front for the one-timer with only :12 seconds remaining. And that was all she wrote. THE PIRATES WIN THEIR 14th CHAMPIONSHIP — AND BOTH SUMMER LEAGUES!
date of game: 9.17.06
1) BOB BROOKS
For the game-winning, title-winning goal with :12 on the clock (sequence shown below).
Photos: Chris Goione
2) SCOTT LEMATTY
For his 2-point night and generally creating havoc wherever he went. Scott was also awarded the Conn Smythe trophy for Playoff MVP from his teammates.
3) RUSS NICOLOSI
For captaining the team to its 13th and 14th titles. What a Summer!