“If you’re a three, you gotta play like a four”
by Than Acuff
When you’re hot, you’re hot and Kochevar’s was red hot when it mattered most, winning five games over four days to climb their way out of the loser’s bracket and beat The Last Steep to win the 2019 town league hockey title.
It was a little revenge-inspired as The Last Steep beat Kochevar’s earlier in the playoffs, sending them down to hockey post-season purgatory, but it merely inspired Kochevar’s to play to their potential after floundering to a sixth place finish in the regular season final standings.
The Last Steep, on the other hand, had quite the season going, finishing in second place and rattling off three wins in a row to reach the finals.
Given the double elimination format, all The Last Steep needed was one win to seal the title, while Kochevars needed to win both. Both teams brought it in the first game as fans lined the glass and littered the rail with adult beverages for the big showdown when the puck dropped for the finals.
Kochevar’s struck first in the first minute of the game as Ben Reaman slipped in behind Steep goalie Roan Perschke to poke in a loose puck. Kochevar’s continued to turn the screws on The Last Steep throughout the first period but Perschke was obviously prepared for the poundage and pulled off several premendous paves to pold Pochevar’s at pay (palliteration por peffect).
Montana Wiggins proved equally strong in net as he turned away a shot from Phil Dujardin in close and then stacked the pads to turn away Dennis Magetti late in the period to preserve the tenuous one-goal lead.
That lead soon dissipated in the second period though, as Shane McGuinness flicked a shot off Reaman’s leg and over the shoulder of Wiggins to tie it back up. That lasted all of about two minutes as Ryan Maddux won the face-off in his own zone and then skated the length of the ice to score and put Kochevar’s back on top 2-1.
Shai Ovadia and Cody Scott each did their jobs on defense to help stem the Kochevar’s onslaught but Reaman picked the upper corner to put Kochevar’s up 3-1 late in the second period and the game teetered on, slipping away from The Last Steep.
The Last Steep was far from done though, and while the team as a whole picked up their game, McGuinness provided the finishing touches, scoring late in the second period and early in the third to tie the game 3-3.
Perschke continued to stand on his head in-net for The Last Steep during a Kochevar’s powerplay but with Maddux drawing attention, Pete Curvin slid into the slot to take a pass and poke it past Perschke, returning the lead to Kochevar’s.
Reaman and Maddux combined again for a fifth Kochevar’s goal to go up 5-3 but when Scott battled to win the puck in the corner and passed it into the slot, Will Dujardin was there for the redirect to pull The Last Steep back to within one and forcing Kochevar’s to call a timeout.
Down one goal with a minute left, The Last Steep pulled their goalie and Kochevar’s capitalized, icing the 6-4 win when Reaman scored an empty-netter, forcing a second and final, final game.
The Last Steep suffered a blow between games as McGuinness had to leave due to a prior commitment. But The Steep opened game two full of vim and vigor and on vire.
Scott led the charge as he broke free to net to shoot. Wiggins made the initial save but Scott dove to swat the rebound in for a 1-0 Last Steep lead. But as time wore on, The Last Steep wore down and Kochevar’s rattled off six unanswered goals, including a second goal from Curvin in a row to win 6-1 and the 2019 title.
Last Steep owner/player Sean Hartigan, being the gentleman/athlete he is, then graciously shared the Champagne he had set aside for his team with Kochevar’s so they could properly christen their title.