26W, no. 12; newsletter by h.s.)
The last time the Pirates met the Hocky Teem, Gucci was unceremoniously thrown out in the 1st period, and we were handed one of the worst loses of the season. This time things would be different: Gucci would make it 43:00 minutes before going postal, and the Pirates would stage a dramatic Playoff comeback.
The Pirates had a full-bench for this Semifinals match that pitted the No.2 and No.3 seeds. Nick Garguilo had hoped to be back in the line-up but was still on D.L., so Joe Baio once again faithfully filled his spot. Just a few feet away, the Hocky Teem's bench was surprisingly sparse. Although this would look like a promising sign, the last time we faced the Hocky Teem they also had a six-man roster and they wiped the floor the with us. As a result of the lack of Hocky Teem members, the first puck didn't drop until well after 10p.m. — when their goalie and fifth man finally showed-up. Generously, the refs waited ... and waited ... and waited until they finally had a full team on the ice.
The 1st period was scoreless until the halfway mark when the Hocky Teem swatted a rebound backhanded into the Pirate goal for the 1-0 lead. A few minutes later they added a second tally and the game looked to be a repeat of our first meeting. Then, with only 4:00 minutes remaining, Evan got a breakout pass from Dave Matthews; he raced in all alone on the Hocky Teem's goalie, but his shot glanced-off the crossbar. Fortunately, the rebound came right back to him and it was soon a 2-1 game. Evan's magic touch continued on the next play when he and #67 exchanged passes up the ice; once again the initial shot missed, but Brian got the puck back to Evan and things were quickly knotted at 2-2. When the buzzer sounded a few minutes later, the Pirates had not only erased a two-goal deficit, but now headed into the final 22:00 minutes with the momentum.
Just as the 1st period starred Evan, the final period would feature the heroics of Joe Baio. It began when Joe gave the Pirates their first lead of the night at the 14:00-minute mark on a slapshot from the blueline. Even though the Hocky Teem had now surrendered three unanswered goals, they didn't seem flustered. Instead, they patiently worked the puck up the ice and soon set-up a triangle deep in our end; they fed the puck to the low man who blasted a shot that beat me five-hole ... but it miraculously didn't go in — when I turned around I saw a sprawled-out Joe Baio had toe-saved the puck at the last possible moment and preserved our slim lead. With only 5:00 minutes separating the Pirates from their second Finals appearance in two seasons, we played strong defensive hockey and wouldn't allow the Hocky Teem to gain the zone. Craig took advantage of the the Hocky Teem's defense caught up ice and blasted a shot just beneath their goalie's glove (assist to Gucci) to give us the two-goal lead.
Normally this would be the part where the game ends and we follow that time-honored hockey tradition of “the handshake” at center ice. This time, however, Scott Miller got hammered into the opposition goalie with :28 seconds remaining. In the ensuing melee, Gucci would trounce the culprit and anyone else who got near him. (For the record, it was the same guy as last time.) Among the victims in Gucci's WWF grudge match was Scott Miller and ref Brian Schlueter, who tumbled over backwards trying to break up the mess. Dave Kurasz finally whistled the game over — and declared Gucci the undisputed Heavyweight Champion of the World.
date of game: 8.16.06
1) EVAN MILLER
For his two tallies.
2) JOE BAIO
For his GWG and a game-saving block.
3) CRAIG SUDOL
For his great hustle and the insurance goal.