Hustle and grit save the day
by Than Acuff
When all else fails, hard work and determination can make the difference. Such was the case as Clark’s Market took on Kochevar’s in town league hockey action Monday night at Big Mine Ice Arena and despite falling behind by two goals on two separate occasions, they battled back to end up tying Kochevar’s 3-3.
The game looked to be a Kochevar’s blow out as Ryan Maddux made the most of his return to town league action in the first period. After getting stripped of the puck by Clark’s defenseman Tim Clark (again, no relation), Maddux hunted the puck down only to turn back to net 20 seconds later and pick the upper corner.
Four minutes later Maddux did it again, only different, slipping through the slot to score for a 2-0 Kochevar’s lead while Clark’s tried to find an answer.
Things started to turn in Clark’s favor as Kochevar’s noticeably ramped down after their initial attack, or got tired with just three subs on their bench. Geza Michel proved pinpoint in her passing for Kochevar’s as Clark’s mounted a succession of attacks on the Kochevar’s net and while Roan Pershke made the initial saves, Clark’s finally punched one home as Todd Carroll was admittedly “just in the right place at the right time” to score.
A Clark’s powerplay late in the first period then offered a chance to tie the game but it almost backfired as they got caught pinching in off the blue line and Kochevar’s countered. The broken play turned into an odd man rush attack by Kochevar’s but Frank Konsella sprinted back on defense to break it up and hold Kochevar’s to their 2-1 lead.
The break between periods allowed Kochevar’s to catch their breath and they threatened to build on their slim lead in the seventh minute when Maddux set up Paul O’Connor on the doorstep by Clark’s goalie Montana Wiggins made the point-blank stop.
As the period continued, Clark’s started surging again. Dakota Wiggins’ work up, down and all around the ice served up a chance on net but Pershke came up with another save. Mike Wright slipped into the slot during some mayhem to push the puck past Pershke but as it spun on the goal line, O’Connor swatted it clear of harm’s way to hold Kochevar’s’ one-goal advantage.
While Kochevar’s spent most of the period holding off the Clark’s attack, they did manage to counter every now and again and their patience paid off as Maddux skated up the ice, around the Clark’s net and then back in front to score his third goal of the game for a 3-1 Kochevar’s lead heading into the third period.
As the game wore on though, Clark’s ramped up, using their deep bench to their advantage with aggressive fore-checking and frantic skating, so frantic at times they got in the way of both Kochevar’s and themselves.
But their hustle and never-say-die attitude made the difference and after hitting the post several times in the opening minutes of the third period, Clark’s found the back of the net for a second time with four minutes left to play. Jason Keener made a mad rush up the wing, drawing all kinds of chaos and firing a shot on net. Pershke made the initial save but Evan Albanese was there to push the rebound home.
Three minutes later, Clark’s struck again as Dakota’s 9-0 effort set up the game-tying goal and forced Kochevar’s to call a timeout to cool off Clark’s and catch their breath. With Maddux maxed out on goals, Kochevar’s struggled to find a new way to score and the teams finished the game with a 3-3 tie.