Valiant effort by shorthanded Steep
Despite an impressive effort, the Last Steep fell victim to yet another onslaught from the Eldo, losing 9-4 in town league hockey action on Tuesday, January 15.
The Eldo showed up with a full squad Tuesday night while the Last Steep barely showed, missing several players on their roster—including one of two aces in the hole—and having just two subs on the bench.
Four minutes into the first period, rumblings of another Eldo blow-out circulated through the crowd and scorer’s box. Guy Cuilla started the scoring for the Eldo in the first minute, taking the puck end-to-end for a 1-0 lead.
Two minutes later, Milo Wynne fed Steve Melenick up the middle for another Eldo goal and the rout appeared to be in effect.
But the Last Steep responded with a succession of shots on-goal from Gesa Michel and Jeff Ryba.
Eldo goalie Tom Brother stopped the first two attempts but the Last Steep continued to pressure the Eldo zone.
The payoff came when two Eldo defenders collapsed on Ryba, who pushed the puck back to a wide-open Tim Seifert at the point. Seifert lined up the puck and fired it low through traffic to beat Brother, who never saw the puck coming.
The Last Steep tied the game 2-2 a minute into the second period when Dave Villanueva fed Ryba. One minute later, the two connected again as Villanueva found Ryba alone at the top of the face-off circle and Ryba’s shot hit off Brother’s pads and bounced in, giving the Last Steep a 3-2 lead.
Last Steep goalie Josh Bock turned away two blistering slap-shots from Paul O’Connor to hold the one-goal lead temporarily, but the Eldo broke through to tie the game in the 10th minute of the second period.
Pete Curvin took the puck off a face-off and fired a shot at Bock. Bock made the first save but Hank DeRoche followed to slip the rebound behind the goalie.
The Last Steep battled back, riding the defense of Steve Curtiss and Steve Banks and the skates of Ryba.
Ryba gave the lead back to the Last Steep, blasting a low shot off the far post that resonated throughout Big Mine Ice Arena, recording a hat trick on the night.
But before the Last Steep could gain momentum, the Eldo connected for two goals in the final minute of the second period to pull ahead 5-4.
A shot by Cuilla popped over Bock’s head and Wynne followed to punch it in, tying the game 4-4.
Niki Schroer gave the lead to the Eldo, taking a pass from O’Connor and slipping it through the five-hole with 19 seconds left in the second period.
With just two subs to work with and Ryba maxed-out on goals—top-rated players in town league are regulated to three goals per game—the Last Steep’s tanks ran dry in the third period.
The Eldo scored four more times in the final period. Cuilla opened the scoring netting a one-on-one. Wynne got his second of the night, pushing a tip from Pete Curvin past Bock. Cuilla got his third goal finishing another one-on-one and Curvin joined in at the end of the barrage scoring off a pass from Melenick for the 9-4 win.