More better, really great hockey game
by Than Acuff
I was going to floor you with a quote from H.L. Mencken, published in the Baltimore Evening Sun on July 26, 1920, figuring I had some space to fill before I got to town league hockey coverage, but the game I witnessed was so good, it deserves every word of this article (except this 62-word opening sentence), so you’ll have to look it up yourself on the internet.
Thursday night may have been one of the greatest town league hockey games of all time as Kochevar’s scored two goals in the final two minutes to edge out a 5-4 win over the Eldo.
There’s some history there between the two franchises with a number of Eldo players jumping ship to join Kochevar’s (rumor has it there was a bounty on the head of every player who made the move). Even the former Eldo owner, Ted Bosler, was seen, cigar in hand, standing alongside the Kochevar’s bench watching the game. Perhaps it was a show of his new allegiance, or it’s just where he stands.
Point being, the matchup provided a back-story not seen since the early Pigs/Storm games, making for an electric evening of hockey.
The game opened at a pace not seen all season in town league action as both squads skated hard up and down the ice, finding slots and taking shots. Defensemen were left scrambling to recover and goalies Roan Pershk and Ed Dujardin were called on early and often to keep the game scoreless.
Twice in the first period it appeared the lamp lit up with a goal for each team but the keen eyes of the referee crew, including former standout netminder Jay Harris, saw otherwise, and the goals were waved off, leaving the teams locked in a 0-0 tie after one frantic first period.
The Eldo broke open the scoring two minutes into the second period as Paul Moscatelli took the puck up-ice with Kevin Williams in tow and two Kochevar’s defensemen between them and the net.
Williams made a quick move to split the Kochevar’s defense and took a pass from Moscatelli to score for a 1-0 lead.
Two minutes later the Eldo struck again with the same two players connecting and it appeared the frenetic style of hockey played was working for the Eldo crew.
While a bit more organized and cooler upstairs, Kochevar’s does have its own slew of wild cards to match the insanity. With Torrey Carroll and Matt Cahir skating like madmen throughout the neutral zone, the effort opened up some chaos in the attacking zone and Will Dujardin took the opportunity to make his own mayhem, cruising through the high slot and picking the upper corner for Kochevar’s first goal.
After three more minutes of insanity, including a two-on-one breakaway from Williams and Will Muller that was broken up by the quick reactions of Paul O’Connor, the Eldo struck again. A face-off in the Eldo zone led to an opening up-ice for Muller, who then skated straight to net to score, building a 3-1 Eldo lead.
While Williams and Muller were busy looking for additional goals, Marc Driver, Ian Baird and Doug Collins were busy in the trenches to open scoring opportunities for their all-star teammates, but the Kochevar’s team positioning made the difference in holding off the Eldo attack.
As time waned in the second period, O’Connor became increasingly impatient on defense and found an opportunity to create on offense. As the Eldo defense skated back, O’Connor found a lane up the boards, and a spring in his step not seen since his days playing at the University of Arizona, and took two strides to slip in behind the defense and go to goal to stuff the puck through, pulling Kochevar’s back to within one.
Kochevar’s opened the third period with a power-play and were poised to tie the game up, but the Eldo tacked on their fourth goal in the opening minute when Driver played the puck up the boards to Muller and Muller finished for a 4-2 Eldo lead.
Kochevar’s returned the favor a minute later, netting their own short-handed goal as heavy forechecking popped the puck loose and O’Connor fed Dujardin in the slot to score his second goal of the game.
At this point the game could have gone one of two ways. Hits were being doled out, albeit mostly accidentally—players were falling, sticks and elbows were flying a little higher and tempers were flaring, careening to an ugly close to what had been a hard-fought game thus far.
Instead, the intensity remained right where it needed to be and while the game was heating up, play continued and the gloves stayed on to keep things in check.
The Eldo came close to sealing the deal when Williams charged out of the penalty box to take a pass up-ice and skated on to goal but Ed Dujardin denied and Kochevar’s called a timeout with two minutes left to rest and regroup.
The break was just what they needed as they pulled their goalie with two minutes left and tied the game 40 seconds later as John Hickey crashed on a rebound to score. The Eldo wasn’t done and flirted with the back of the net in the final minute but the difference came with 40 seconds left in regulation.
Once again O’Connor found a lane up the boards from the defensive position, dropped his shoulders and skated right past the Eldo defense to attack the net and slip the puck near-post, sealing the 5-4 win for Kochevar’s.