White out conditions
by Than Acuff
Brush Creek, helicopter “landing areas,” sheriff controversies, effing wind, that guy living in our White House (sorta), all of that just washes away at a town league hockey game.
Well, not the effing wind, as the effing wind made for white-out conditions during parts of the game Monday, February 19 between the Last Steep and the Brick Oven.
The Brick Oven looked primed for a win with a full bench this time, while the Last Steep had just one sub on the bench all game long.
Yet, despite the lack of players, there was no lack of play by the Last Steep as pinpoint passing, spot-on position play and precision shooting made the difference, skating to a 7-3 win over the Brick Oven.
The Last Steep went immediately to work scoring in the first two minutes as Logan Nittany Lion Demarcus skated end-to-end and through everyone to set up Jack Weise on the doorstep for the goal. Four minutes later Demarcus was circling in and out of the Brick Oven zone like a hippie looking for a nitrous tank in a Dead show parking lot drawing all sorts of attention. Meanwhile, Weise remained patient at the blue line and when the puck kicked out to him, he slipped a low wrist shot through the mess of players in front of the net to put the Last Steep up 2-0.
Brick Oven goalie Jake Red Beren made an incredible glove save to deny the upper corner that brought both teams in to hug him, and one would have thought that, alone, would inspire the Brick to take over the game.
But instead, inspired by their passionate player/owner Sean Hartigan, who was sidelined with a bad hammy, the Last Steep tacked on a third goal. Vinnie Hartigan, who honed his hockey skills playing in the Swamp Hockey League (SHL) outside of Atlanta, Georgia, shot on net. Beren made the initial save, but Ian Havoc Havlick literally crashed the slot to push the puck and Beren into the net for a 3-0 lead.
Ten seconds later the Brick, or rather, Jeff Black, responded to finally break the seal on the Last Steep net and the Brick looked to build on that. They took over the momentum of the game to close out the first period and carried that energy into the second period scoring again as Ben Preston pressed deep into the Last Steep zone and Brian Raftree put on the finishing touch to pull the Brick Oven to within one.
But before the Brick Oven could assemble any sense of a rally, the Last Steep fired right back as Megan Paden followed in on the work of Demarcus to score. Two minutes later, the Last Steep continued its onslaught as Havlick slipped a pass to Hartigan on the far post and Hartigan stuffed it top shelf for a 5-2 Last Steep lead.
Despite the three-goal deficit, Tim Poppe continued to grind along the boards for the Brick Oven and Kent Preston was slicing and dicing through neutral ice. Their efforts paid off eventually as Matt Gutter broke loose and fired a frickin’ laser from just inside the blue line to score.
So now things appeared in place for the Brick Oven comeback. Gutter scored, the game was headed into the latter part of the second period and the Last Steep had to be getting tired.
But none of that mattered as the Last Steep capitalized in the final minute of the second period. As the Brick Oven pushed into the Last Steep zone, Havlick slipped behind the defense on the weak side to take a breakout pass from Demarcus and score for a 6-3 Last Steep lead heading into the third period.
Surely we would see a miraculous comeback by the Brick in the third period. But, we didn’t. Instead, Weise finished off his hat trick for the night, scoring in the sixth minute, and the Last Steep skated away with the 7-3 win, proving why they are the defending town league champions.