Kids, dogs, horns, a megaphone, Druncle James and beers on the rail
by Than Acuff
The season had it all and, in the end, the championship game did too, as the Last Steep came back from a two-goal deficit to edge out a 3-2 win over Altitude Painting in the final minute and take the 2017 town league hockey title. It may have been the greatest game of all time, in recent memory or at least since that douchebag took over as president. Wait, wait, let’s not get caught up in the spate of name-calling that has been inadvertently endorsed by the new president. How about… hmmm… well, best left unsaid really.
On that note, rally for The Ides of Trump! Look it up and send it in. Apparently Hank Aaron holds the record for most fan mail in a year, receiving 900,000 letters and the hope is that we can break that record by all sending a postcard, or several, to donald trump at the White House on March 15 expressing whatever thoughts you may have on his effort as the president.
president donald trump
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington D.C. 20500
The season was a collection of mayhem with REG and SKA duking it out for first place, the Eldo crumbling under a rash of suspensions, Kochevar’s cold then hot then cold then hot then cold again. The Last Steep and Altitude Painting were circling the drain with HCCM clogging it at the bottom of the standings. It was a season worthy of a sean spicer press conference.
Ultimately, HCCM rose from the bottom for one last hurrah to beat REG in the first round of the playoffs before losing to the Last Steep while SKA lost to Altitude Painting.
But that was neither here nor there Tuesday night because there were just two teams left standing and they gave it all they had. It was a microcosm of the entire season with comebacks, great goaltending, great players doing what great players do (make not so great players look good) and a fight complete with ejections.
Both teams opened at not-so-breakneck speed as caution appeared to be the name of the game. The Last Steep put together a breakout of almost NHL proportions early on, if the NHL skated in mud, with pinpoint passing to work the puck up the ice but Altitude’s defense anchored by the venerable Bill Frame remained diligent in their positioning.
Ashley Brown laid out the first hit of the game slowing down Bruce Winchenbach as he skated the puck through neutral ice and when Ian Havlick attempted an end-to-end one man rush three minutes in, both teams stepped up their games to a pace worthy of a town league final.
Altitude Painting had the first quality look on net four minutes into the game when Luke Haggerty followed on a rebound in front for a wide-open shot on net but Roan Pershk stuffed him cold to keep the game scoreless.
Both teams traded off sessions of possession hockey holding the puck in the offensive zones for extended periods of time but it took an Altitude counterattack to break the scoreless tie. As the Last Steep set up shop and fired shots with Shawn Harrington stopping everything sent his way, Haggerty caught the Steep sleeping at the blue line and sped up ice with the puck to pick the upper corner for a 1-0 Altitude lead at the end of the first period.
Thirty seconds into the second period Altitude tacked on a second goal during a power play when Haggerty dropped the puck to Will Nunez and Nunez ripped a slapshot from the point through traffic.
Mike Wright, whether he or anyone knew it or not, helped set up the Last Steep’s first goal in the seventh minute of the second period. Wright scrambled to hold the puck in the Altitude zone and punched it back up the boards. Nittany Lion Logan Demarcus ended up with the puck and circled and circled… and circled around until he found Sean Hartigan posted up in the slot with a pass and Hartigan pushed it through the five-hole. Pershk followed with a couple stop, drop and flop blocks to hold off Altitude Painting and the Last Steep was primed for a comeback with the crowd on the edge of their seats hoping that a Last Steep win could quite possibly result in a Last Steep open bar after the game.
While the Last Steep started dictating the pace of the game, Altitude’s defense and position play was tantamount to holding onto their lead. Both Frame and Cody Scott held down the fort with Pete Sowar, Molly Frame and Betty Gurk working hard in neutral ice.
A powerplay for the Last Steep opened the door ever so slightly for a game-tying goal but Altitude controlled the puck and scored what appeared to be shorthanded goal before it was waved off.
Then pandemonium ensued as a battle for the puck in the corner turned into fisticuffs resulting in two player ejections and complete confusion both on and off the ice. Once the shouting stopped, the referee crew made sense of the situation and the Last Steep remained on the powerplay.
They finally took advantage of the situation as Jeff Koether slipped a pass cross ice to Jack Weise and, despite the heroic effort of Harrington to make the save, Weise found a seam through tying the game 2-2 with two minutes left.
Another frenzy resulted in a powerplay for Altitude and when they looked to retake the lead, Demarcus spearheaded a counterattack. Demarcus sliced up ice finding Weise open again and Weise scored the game winner with 38 seconds left in regulation to seal the comeback for the Last Steep and bring the trophy and, my guess is, all of the fans and both teams to the Last Steep after the game to celebrate. And by celebrate I mean drink.