27S, no. 1; newsletter by h.s.)
The Pirates defense of their recently-earned Championship Title began against one of the league's most familiar “A” teams: The Blackhawks. Ironically, it was the Pirates themselves who weren't that recognizable.
With Kevin opting to take a season off and Nick waiting until Winter before he plays both nights again, the Pirates were down two full-time spots for the new season. Fortunately some great recruiting by Brooks at the last-moment landed us one-season contracts with Anthony “Tony” Toscano and Kevin “Murf” Murphy — whose skills combine firepower with Energizer Bunny-like skating abilities. The only problem that remained now was Gucci. Not because of anything he did, but simply because Gucci was our only full-time defenseman currently on the roster. So Russ fell back on defense with LeMatty, and Murf manned the blueline with Gucci for our first game; up front we had Ralz-Brooks-Toscano with Farkas-Wildman-DiPierro.
The 1st period got off to a great start when Ralz gelled immediately with his new linemates: He aggressively chased down a puck into the zone and passed it into the mixer where Tony shot it in for the 1-0 lead — only :40 seconds into the game. A shift later Tony left the ice after receiving a stick to the face; bandaged, he returned a few minutes later (during his absence, Murf quickly filled the gap up front). Bodies were flying everywhere, but neither team could do any more damage and that lead stood-up for the entire period.
The opening 2:00-minutes of the final period was the only part of the game that the Pirates had trouble with. First, Bobby Currao banked a slapper off the boards that found the blade of Mazi to tie things up 1-1. Shortly afterwards the Blackhawks capitalized on breakaway for the 2-1 lead. Besides that 120-second lapse, the game was a battle of wills with neither club yielding. Wildman had an unbelievable chance late but the goalie got a piece of it as he tried tossing a puck into the open side. With :50 seconds remaining I sprinted to the bench for the extra skater, but a rink-wide shot rolled on edge and found its way into our empty net to seal our fate. Even though a loss, Russ summed it up best when he said: “We gave the Hawks a scare.”
date of game: 9.24.06
1) TONY TOSCANO
For his goal less than 1:00-minute into the 1st period — fastest goal ever for a Pirate rookie.*
2) TIM HAND
For the lone assist on the night and some great skating. (Tim would've gotten the first skull if his wife Julia had run over the opposition goalie's sticks in the parking lot like she said she almost did.)
3) SCOTT LEMATTY
For his heavy-hitting, blueline play.
*After an anonymous protest was filed, Tony's goal was reviewed by the SOC. The committee ruled that the Skull (and the goal he was awarded) stand. They cited that “once posted, these games become a piece of Pirate history and cannot be altered on a whim.”