Engineering a title run
by Than Acuff
It was about what one expected—not what one hoped for, but what one would expect—when the number one seeded REG faced the number eight seed Brick Oven in the opening game of the 2018 town league playoffs Monday night.
What one hoped for, at least what I hoped for, was an upset or, at the very least, a tight game.
What one would expect was a blow-out, and it was, as REG cruised to a 9-1 bludgeoning of the Brick.
Fortunately for the Brick, the playoffs are a double elimination format so in the immortal words of Jesse Jackson…
“That Obama, I would like to cut his nuts off.”
Nope, not that one.
“Capital punishment turns the state into a murderer. But imprisonment turns the state into a gay dungeon-master.”
Hmmm, not quite.
“If my mind can conceive it, and my heart can believe it, I know I can achieve it.”
“Keep hope alive!”
That’s the one.
And hope was alive for the Brick, at least during the first period. REG opened the scoring just 30 seconds into the game when Rocco Guaragno made a mess of things in neutral ice and Billy Watson skated by to clean it up and score.
Fans started to fill the stands as the period progressed and the Brick fed off of that energy, but REG scored again in the eighth minute as Alex Banas took a pass from Watson and somehow squeezed a no-angle backhand near post.
The Brick’s fan base continued to grow and they started to press into REG’s zone repeatedly. They set up shop for at least a minute straight, thanks to the diligent work of Dan Loftus at the blue line. Every time REG looked to clear the puck, Loftus was there to keep it in the zone and maintain pressure. The pinning eventually gave way to a goal as Ashley Brown slipped the puck to Mark Cram in the slot for the Cram Jam with 15 seconds left in the first period.
The solid close to the first period helped the Brick build confidence heading into the second period as… wait, almost forgot, Watson scored seven seconds later off an assist from Nick Mick Couts for a 3-1 REG lead at the end of the first period.
At any rate, hope was alive for the Brick down just 3-1 in the second period. Unfortunately, hope didn’t score any goals but REG did, four to be exact. They started just 40 seconds into the second period as Dodson Harper fed Watson in the slot for a goal.
REG was poised to add a fifth goal, skating to the Brick’s net in a 2 vs 1 but that one was Brown and she played it perfectly to deny and then take the puck back up ice for a counter-attack. That counter-attack stalled though in neutral ice and REG returned to their scoring ways.
Watson scored in the fifth minute, 40 seconds later Jeremy Herzog finished off a pass from Harper for a 6-1 REG lead and REG closed the period scoring again in the final 50 seconds as Banas finished off his hat trick for the game.
Suffice it to say, down 7-1 heading into the third period, no words of encouragement were going to turn the game around. The Brick is never one to quit, and they didn’t, but neither did REG as Harper scored in the seventh minute of the third period and Brian Buchannon tacked on a ninth REG goal in the final minute to really send a message to the rest of the league. While denied the title last year, REG is on a quest to rectify the situation. As for the Brick…
“We must not measure greatness from the mansion down, but from the manger up.”
“At the end of the day, we must go forward with hope and not backward by fear and division.”
“If you try, you may fail; if you don’t try, you’re guaranteed to fail.”
There it is.