Warm night, hot action
by Than Acuff
The snow is falling again and thanks, once again, to the roof over Big Mine Ice Arena, the weather had no effect on town league hockey. Good thing too because if there was no roof, there never would have been a barnburner between Altitude Painting and HCCM Tuesday night.
Altitude showed up with a short bench while HCCM was stacked to the gills on their side so it became apparent that Altitude’s plan was simple, score early and often and then hold on. Not that anyone probably discussed a strategy for the game but that’s how it appeared.
Altitude went straight to work scoring 50 seconds into the game as David Bright chased down a shot wide of the net and fed Luke Haggerty in the slot for a 1-0 Altitude lead.
Altitude continued to press and was knocking on the door again three minutes later but HCCM’s disciplined position play eventually paid off as Jack Green dropped the puck to Dom Eymere cheating in off the blue line and Eymere fired his shot just inside the far post to tie the game 1-1.
HCCM then opened the game up switching into overdrive and working the puck left to right and up and down the ice. The Altitude defense held tight to close off shooting lanes and then set up counter attacks finding passing lanes through the neutral zone. The pinpoint passing came to fruition as Pete Sowar found Haggerty open and Haggerty netted his second goal of the game. Altitude then capitalized on a power play late in the first period as Sowar fed Haggarty again and Haggarty finished for a 3-1 Altitude lead heading into the second period.
But with a short bench, Haggerty maxed out on goals and two more periods of hockey to play, Altitude was pressed to hold on for another 22 minutes.
Things started to unravel for Altitude three minutes into the second period as HCCM scored two goals in 13 seconds. James Brennan set up Ian Shaul for the first goal finding Shaul sliding in off the point. Thirteen seconds later the game was tied as Shaul set up Green.
Altitude recovered to charge back anchored by Cody Scott and Bill Frame on defense and Will Nunez working hard up and down the boards but HCCM’s discipline came into play once again. After holding off the push from Altitude, HCCM set up in Altitude’s zone and Shaul fired a shot from the point that Green tipped past goalie Shawn Harrington for a 4-3 HCCM lead.
Meanwhile, Molly Frame was due for some heroics and they came three minutes into the third period. Molly broke free up the wing and wheeled around for a no look pass to Nunez following the play. Nunez blasted a shot, and while goalie Mike Preston had the pads clamped to block the shot, the puck ended up trickling five-hole and over the line to tie the game 4-4.
The teams traded off rushes and when Sowar broke free up ice with 20 seconds left, he looked to net the game-winner. Bill Thompson had other plans though as he dove to bring Sowar down stopping the play but earning a penalty and giving Altitude a penalty shot with 18 seconds left. Sowar was given the honors on the penalty shot and skated in to finish it off but Preston made the stop and HCCM held off one final furious push from Altitude to leave the teams with a hard-fought 4-4 tie.