It’s only getting better
by Than Acuff
Just ask any one of the handful of fans with 16 ounce PBRs in their hands at the game Tuesday night how the action is in town league hockey these days and they’ll tell you, it’s off the Richter.
Ska Brewing and the Last Steep squared off in another installment of the “second” season action and there’s no question, the “quest for the cup” is in full swing.
My only question is, how does the second season work?
My other only question is, who goes to the finals?
Doesn’t really matter because it is on people.
For one reason or another, the officials prior to the game called the team captains together for a pre-game discussion. Perhaps to remind them that, while it is the post season, I think, it’s still just town league and to play hard but keep it in check.
The two teams complied from the first drop of the puck until the final whistle and skated 9-0 all three periods displaying ultimate hockey civility.
Ska got the first chance to open the scoring with a power play in the second minute of the game but the man advantage ultimately backfired. As two Ska players chased down the puck in the corner, they collided with each other and Kevin Williams skated the free puck out of the Last Steep zone, through neutral ice and blasted a low slapshot from just inside the blue line past Ska goalie Deuce Wynes for the shorthanded goal.
Brynn O’Connell took it upon herself to try and create some offense for Ska and while her initial attack and centering pass was left unattended, the effect had a residual effect. Ska proceeded to set up in the Last Steep zone and Jared Marchand capitalized on some chaos to poke the puck through the mess tying the game 1-1. Fifteen seconds later, Ska struck again when Kent Preston carried the puck up ice and behind the net as Tim Poppe and Dan Loftus crashed the slot. Preston fed Poptus, the two-headed slot monster that they become when near the goal, and it scored with the goal going to Poppe.
His twins would be so proud.
The Last Steep took back control of the end-to-end action to fire off a relentless barrage of shots, but Wynes had shaken off the first goal and was on point with several saves as the Ska defense cleared the puck accordingly.
Preston gave Ska a little breathing room with another mad rush out of the Ska zone and a sleight of hand move in neutral ice gave him a clear path to net. Preston skated on, looking to stuff it home, but Roan Perschke shut him down. Ska built off of Preston’s attack to rattle off several more chances with Poptus doing what Poptus does, but Perschke was insane with his floppage to provide the necessary stoppage and held off the Ska shots.
Then the second period happened, a second period that was, perhaps, the best period of town league hockey I’ve ever witnessed. There was intensity, great saves, great defense, great goals and even a fluke goal. This period had it all.
The last Steep opened the period on fire and had it not been for Wynes standing on his head, almost literally, the game could have swung in the Last Steep’s favor. William Muller then took it upon himself to try and break the seal on Wynes. While the defense of Ska veteran Dick Whiting denied him at first, Muller remained on task and moments later broke through to roof the puck tying the game 2-2.
Less than a minute later, Ska returned the favor as Poptus separated enough during an attack to open up a shot and Loftus scored to put Ska back on top 3-2.
The two teams continued to fly up and down the ice and in the final minute of the second period, the last Steep tied the game up once again as Muller circled around and fired a shot that bounced off a Ska defenseman, up in the air and over the head of their goalie and into the net, sending the two teams into the third period tied 3-3.
Ska continued to press at the start of the third period and while Chuck McKenrick was busy making a mess in front of the last Steep net, Preston found an opening and scored for a 4-3 Ska lead.
Jake Grogg worked hard for the Last Steep looking to make some magic of his own but Gesa Michel’s defense was spot on, poking the puck off of Grogg’s stick not once, but twice.
The Last Steep set up in Ska’s zone for the final two minutes, eventually pulling their goalie, but Ska circled the wagons to defend against the final attack and held on for the 4-3 win.