“We’re a pack of little dogs”
First of all, my thoughts at the time I write this are focused on Eldo player Guy Ciulla who was hit in his spine blocking a slapshot in the final minute of the game attempting to preserve the Eldo’s slim one-goal lead.
Talk was positive among players on the ice as he was carried off on a stretcher and into the back of the ambulance but one never knows with spinal injuries, so keep Guy in your thoughts.
It was a bummer too because up until then it was shaping up to be one of the best town league games in awhile.
For starters a couple hockey newbies scored including Ian Baird who netted his first hockey goal ever.
In addition, despite having only eight skaters, the Last Steep never gave up and came back twice in the game.
And, of course, the clincher to the epic battle was a game-tying goal in the final seconds.
Though, no one really likes a tie, except for maybe the Last Steep in this instance.
For one reason or another, the Last Steep just would not go away no matter what the Eldo threw at them. Even an own goal couldn’t stop the Last Steep.
Steep player Megan Paden put it this way, “we’re a pack of little dogs.”
The Last Steep opened the game completely in control and on attack scoring three minutes into the first period when William Nunez broke loose to the Eldo net. Nunez, who may be due for a skate sharpening, slipped while on attack but continued to swat at the puck while sliding on his side stuffed it through Brad Bodell’s pads.
The Last Steep held control of the puck for most of the first with Nate Welch firing shots from the blue line and Shaughn Zaleski slicing through neutral ice to open up more opportunities on net.
Steep goalie Zach Vaughter, who rallied off the couch from a debilitating illness to make the game, came up with a couple big saves as well but the Eldo eventually tied it up late in the first period on a goal by Howard Tuthill.
Yet, with just eight skaters to work with it should be only a matter of time before the Eldo, fueled by some coconut juice concoction and a full bench, would rise above.
The Eldo opened the second period with a renewed sense of purpose pressuring the Last Steep deep in their zone to pin them in front of their own net.
The strategic shift paid off in spades (that’s alliteration y’all) when Tuthill fed Baird in the slot to put the Eldo up 2-1. Two minutes later Matt Cahir stuffed a pass from Christopher Thompson past Vaughter to put the Eldo up 3-1.
The Steep responded early in the third period when Paden fed Zaleski for a powerplay goal to cut the Eldo lead back down to one at which point the Eldo called a timeout.
The break served the Eldo well as they came out of the timeout to score two goals in a one-minute span. Tuthill picked up a loose puck at the blue line and skated to net to skip the puck five-hole with a backhand. Fifty seconds later Tuthill struck again scoring off a rebound to build a 5-2 Eldo lead with just over eight minutes to play.
But the Last Steep would not give in and Willy Coburn took a pass from Sioux Emery to net to score. Thirty seconds later Zaleski broke free again and buried the puck top shelf to cut the Eldo lead back down to one.
The Last Steep was then primed to tie the game up with a powerplay but an attempt to play the puck behind their own net ended up in the back of their own net.
Surely, after coming back from three goals down twice in one game only to give up and own goal on a powerplay would crush the Steep for good but no, that “pack of little dogs,” kept coming back for more.
With a minute and a half left in regulation, a mess in front of the Eldo net resulted in Coburn’s second goal of the night and pulled the Steep back to within one goal.
With 44 seconds left and their goalie pulled, the Last Steep continued to press and that’s when Ciulla took the puck off his spine blocking a slapshot.
Once Ciulla was taken off the ice the two teams returned to action and that’s when the little dogs got their biscuit.
The Eldo cleared the puck of their defensive zone twice in the final 30 seconds but the last Steep came charging back up ice both times and Coburn took the puck into the mixer and slipped it to Welch in the slot for the game-tying goal with just six seconds left in regulation.
Once again, as this hits the newsstands, my hope is Ciulla is on his feet and doing well.