Town league championships Thursday, March 12
When the playoffs started two weeks ago, it appeared it was just a matter of time before either the Lightning or REG would raise the coveted town league trophy high in celebration. But, as I mentioned before, there are a couple of outliers not to be ignored, specifically the Last Steep and the Eldo. The Eldo has a dark horse chance thanks to their midseason acquisition of one of the top new players in town. The Last Steep just seems to play their best hockey when it matters most and so far, they’re right on track as they handed REG a 6-3 drubbing last week.
As a result, REG is in the dubious position of having to claw their way out of the loser’s bracket and they started said clawing Monday night, handing Acme Liquors a 7-3 loss to remain alive in the title hunt.
It didn’t have to be that bad for Acme. Granted, they needed to play near-perfect hockey and they needed REG goalie Zach Vandyke to have the worst game of his career and REG to play grotesquely over-confident or mentally and physically melt down. Plus it didn’t help that Acme was missing three key players to their line-up in Pittsburgh Pete Cook, Chuck McKenrick and Dom Eymere. Still, as Henry Thoreau once said, less is more, and sometimes a short bench makes for better hockey.
Or wait, was it Robert Browning? Hold on, let me refer to the googles… yep, Browning said it although I could swear Thoreau said it too. Now I remember, Thoreau was all about simplicity. Remember that band Simple Minds? I’m sick of that Bob Dylan song Simple Twist of Fate. Mmmm, Cinnamon Twist donuts from the old Mt. Crested Butte Bakery. Remember that? Little blue building right by the bus stop on the mountain. That was the morning stop and Casey’s the afternoon stop. Those French fries and those Anchor Steams, so… many… Anchor Steams. There was a guy who lived here who drank so many Anchor Steams he filled a huge recycling bin with the bottle caps. Not the bottles, the bottle caps! There was also a guy who used to live here above the old Marketplace (now the Gas Café) who ate only McStops (now Hurleys) and actually got scurvy. SCURVY!
Back to hockey. Monday night Acme was playing some of their best hockey of the season but Vandyke, while potentially still rattled from letting in six goals last week, did not have his worst game and REG, while at times seemingly over-confident, never let their confidence get out of hand.
Acme put up a good fight through the first three minutes matching wits with REG before Kris Bruun skated the puck to the corner and fed Adam Chater in the slot for the first goal of the game.
Acme had a couple of nice looks soon after, including a solid powerplay complete with passing and smart positioning, but Vandyke easily stopped any shots that did squirt through.
Bruun then looked to put together a solo effort, breaking free with only one Acme defenseman between him and the net. Bruun juked, Bruun jived and Bruun was then dropped on his ass by some desperation Acme defending to deny the shot but also pick up a penalty. The play worked, almost, before REG took advantage of the powerplay on a goal from Bruun and a 2-0 lead heading into the second period.
Still, the game could have easily been 2-2 at that point, but like I said, Acme needed near flawless hockey to have a chance and they missed on the three or four chances they had on the REG net.
Sam Evans then did what he has done several times this season. Evans won the opening face-off and bum-rushed the Acme net. His shot smacked off the post but 30 seconds later he scooped up the puck and skated straight to net again, scoring the second time around.
At this point, the game was teetering precariously close to turning into a complete blow-out but a REG penalty gave Acme another powerplay opportunity. This time they capitalized as Nate Akell won a face-off in the REG zone and dropped it to Tom Consentino and Consentino found a seam past Vandyke with a pinpoint wrister, breathing life back into the game.