I got to the rink a few minutes later than I wanted, but I wasn't rushed at all. I've discovered when I can sit in the locker room for a few minutes before I take the ice, I feel calmer. Today, though, the high school game before us ran late. It was exciting to watch them play. There were some really solid contact, and some great skill out there. What really was neat was that there wasn't a seat anywhere to be found. We joked that everyone was here for our game.
By the time we took the ice, everyone was gone. I felt really good in warm ups. I got a good skate in, a few decent shots. I was more concerned with the Chaos. They had been undefeated to this point, and beat the Mastadons, who recently beat us. I couldn't see a whole lot of new skill on the team. I knew they were a very chippy team too, so I tried to pick out players I remember for such behavior.
From the first shift, my line was clicking. We spent probably the entire 75 seconds in their zone, cycling the puck, getting decent shots off, and battling in front of the net. What I like about my line mates is that they're both very confident players, and work very well together. They're also incredibly skilled and can turn up something from no where. This shift, I focused on taking my position in front of the net. Watching the two wingers skate on the outside as I stay in front with my stick on the ice. Sure enough I get two good shoves in my lower back. It was the goalie using his blocker on me. I know that when they're doing that to me, that I'm doing my job. I continued to do this all night, but eventually it was the defensemen who started to move me. It amazes me how much stick work they get away with regularly. Anyway, our first shift really set the tone for the rest of the Piranha team. all three forwards had shots and stuff attempts. I think we even scored on it, and I may have gotten an assist, but I'm not sure.
Very quickly the rest of the team started to remember who this team was and how they played. I think it resulted in a lot of heads up play, and looking for passes. Everyone was looking for passes, and trying to keep possession in the first. I would continue to try and set up my line mates, and keep with the mentality of keeping the puck. I caught a great pass from the other wall and brought the puck into the zone. I had no one defenseman in front of his goalie, but no pressure. I took the nicest snap shot I've ever had in a game, and I put it exactly where I wanted - right through the defenseman's legs, almost at the goalie's five hole. I was hoping to use the guy as a screen, but I hit the inside of the goalies pad, and he was able to freeze it.
At the end of the first I was real pleased with how I started off, and then I started to trail off a little bit. In one of my early second period shifts, I was on a 2 on 1 with my center. He made a move, forcing the goalie to dive for it, but instead it came over towards me. I have half of the net. All I have to do is put it in. The goalie dove back towards the post to make the save, and I pulled my shot. As a result, I put it right into his chest. He froze it and I was furious with myself. The entire team couldn't believe I missed that. I was furious myself, but wouldn't dwindle on it. I played a fairly flawless game so far for me. One of my next shifts, I had gotten the puck in the slot on a one on one with the defender and goalie. I was able to half way beat the defender so that he was just a random obstacle. I got a great shot off, got the rebound, shot again, and by the time I could get the rebound again, I was on the goal line. I saw a white jersey coming down the slot with some great speed, so I tried to just get it past the goalie who was just up and down in my direction. I got it past him, and into the slot. The center was able to put it home. The defensemen was pissed that he totally blew coverage of two players, and launched the puck down the ice. He instantly got a penalty for it. I did get an assist on this play.
I did a lot more grinding after this, and some penalty killing, and I did a fairly decent job in all areas of my game. We would score on that power play from before, and just outwork the Chaos. We had a 4-1 lead going into the third. Then our team just got a little lackadaisical We weren't moving our feet. Despite telling everyone to keep working and digging hard, it just didn't sink into them. It was getting a bit chippy too. I tried to pick up my own intensity. I started hitting players every chance I could. I had two in one shift behind the net in their zone, and the Chaos didn't like it. I would later get another solid hit on a defenseman during the fore check. I didn't get away from him fast enough though, and he speared me in the back of the calf. Perhaps my favorite contact was during the race for a lose puck. There was a missed pass and the puck went into their zone deep. I was a stride or two away from the Chaos defenseman, and gaining on him. I started yelling to him, "I'm going to hit you! I'm going to hit you!" with no intention of hitting him. I was just trying to pressure him to make a bad pass. But he pulled up and turned into me. At that point, I had no choice but to make contact with him. He showed the patience, and kept the puck in close to his body, but he turned to make an outlet pass. I did feel bad about that one.
There was another play where I got a really bad cross check from behind into the corner. It should have been a penalty but was not called. I ignored it, but a few seconds later, going for the puck next to the boards, the same guy was coming at me and I hesitated. The guy scared me, and I hated that. I do not play well when I get intimidated.
I was on the ice for the last minute with one goal, and felt really good that I was out there. I moved my feet the whole time, and was careful not to get out of position, and just not give up chances. With about nine seconds left, the Chaos defenseman got the puck along the wall, right at the blue line. I tied him up so he couldn't move the puck. I tried to swat the puck just a few feet to my left, so it'd be out of the zone. I know i made contact with the puck, but I had no idea where it was. So I started to lean on that player to pin him along the boards. He leaned to reach for the puck and fell, and the puck went out of the zone. That is how the game ended.
The Piranhas earned a victory, but almost lost here. Not one player on our team didn't receive some sort of contact or bump or shove. It felt good to get that victory. It is a reminder that we have to play the full game, because when we stood around, we gave up easy goals. Myself, I played a really solid game. Aside from the missed half goal, and the part where I pulled up to not get hit, I was really pleased with my game. The Piranhas beat the Chaos 4-3, and I had an assist.