Top teams dropping like lemmings
by Than Acuff
As of Tuesday, the top two seeded teams in the town league playoffs, REG and Kochevars, were out. The number-two seeded Kochevars team lost their first two playoff games in a row to be eliminated and REG, the top-seeded team from the regular season, were shown the door by HCCM on Monday.
Meanwhile, the fourth-seeded Eldo was still looking strong in the winner’s bracket, while the number-three seed Altitude Painting remained in the hunt with a 3-1 win Monday over the Talk of the Town in the loser’s bracket, putting an end to the Talk’s season.
Talk player and local longtime elementary school teacher Molly Frame knew they would have their hands full as she noticed several players on Altitude Painting and mentioned, “I’ve had most of these kids in the thinking chair.” Which is code for “time out,” which is politically correct for “Sit in the corner and shut the hell up.”
Altitude Painting brought its A game, perhaps developed during time spent during their formative years in the “thinking chair,” Monday night while the Talk’s play was erratic at best. The game got off to an auspicious start as Will Dujardin threw a mystery shot at the Talk net, baffling fans, players and even goalie Roan Perschke, a goalie who is rarely, if ever, baffled.
A minute later Talk player Nathan Lacy skated side-to-side, end-to-end, through all three zones to beat Shawn Harrington with a backhand and tie the game 1-1.
Once the goalies shook that off and both teams woke up, we had ourselves a true playoff game going for the remainder of the first period. Betsy Weisch was up and down the ice making waves for the Talk, and Harrington and Perschke traded off brilliant point-blank saves as everyone was moving and grooving and trading off attacks on net.
The second period proved to be a different story though, as Altitude Painting kept jamming while the Talk started stumbling. Walker Carroll put Altitude back on top, skating past everyone to score in the second minute of the second period. Bruce Winchenbach’s work battling for loose pucks on the boards eventually paid off in the fourth minute as he fed Dujardin in the slot and Dujardin scored for a 3-1 Altitude lead.
Despite the Talk’s disjointed play, a couple of players stood out trying to get anything going for the team. Chelsea Wilson was chasing, crashing and creating. Tom Collins was back and forth in the defensive zone and in the neutral zone, trying to push the play up ice, and Rusty Thompson bailed his team out on a number of occasions when Altitude looked sure to score.
But the team never gelled and Altitude held on to its 3-1 lead heading into the third period as they matched the effort of the Talk including Montana Wiggins who was diving at the blue line trying to knock pucks down out of the air and keep his team on offense.
The Talk suffered overlapping penalties in the third period, leaving them down two goals and down two players. They eventually lost Matisse Baugh, who was giving his augh until he got hurt and could give no maugh.
The Talk called a time out with 2:45 left and went with their top five for a shift, trying to climb back in the game but Altitude refused to fold and sealed the 3-1 win to continue battling through the trenches of the loser’s bracket and stay in the hunt for the town league title.