“I kinda miss the smell of the Nordic Center”
[ by Than Acuff ]
Professional sports suck, except for hockey. I’ve hated them ever since the Baltimore Colts picked up and left town in the middle of the night. Ironically, one of the reasons for that was your Bronco nation beloved John Elway (and his daddy) refusing to play for the Colts when they drafted him. Sure, OJ is a murderer but when he was drafted by the Buffalo Bills even he understood that getting drafted into the NFL was an honor and packed up his bags and left the sun and grass fields of California to play in crappy weather on the frozen hard turf of War Memorial Stadium. Elway sucks and I could have told you he would be a crappy GM. Another reason pro sports suck, the Eagles (my favorite NFC team growing up) tanking a game for the purpose of a better draft pick next year. It’ll come back to haunt them, and it should.
That’s why local amateur sports is where it’s at, especially town league hockey, and what a tremendous opening to the 2021 season as Alpine Lumber held off a late game surge by the Last Steep to skate to a 6-4 win. Additionally, the new locker rooms are pretty damn nice too.
Furthermore, not only was it a great game, especially considering it was the first game for everyone since the season was cut short due to COVID, but it was a family affair as well. We had the husband/wife duo of Bill and Molly Frame as well as the father/son duo of Mikey and Slater Weil on Alpine Lumber while the father/son combo of Mike and Hunter Wright both play for the Last Steep. Yes, I’ve been covering town league hockey for a while and I’ve now determined my benchmark for retirement, when Megan Paden and Ezra Paden take the ice together.
Speaking of Megan Paden, she mentioned prior to the game as she was dressing for the Last Steep that this season was a matter of “unfinished business” as the Last Steep was surging toward the town league title when the playoffs were halted.
And, in true town league opening night, some players were missing, most notably the goalie for the Last Steep, and some players dressed for the wrong team. But the misinformed were soon alerted to their mistake and the Last Steep played with six skaters to open the game as they awaited the arrival of their goalie.
The plan sort of worked too. Well, that and the fact that Alpine Lumber was noticeably gracious on a couple of occasions and rather than fire on the empty net opted to hold the puck and pass it around. I can tell you one player who some of us miss on the ice and who would not have been so gracious. Last name starts with M and rhymes with Boscatelli.
Anyway, the Last Steep managed to hold off Alpine Lumber and even took advantage of their one-player advantage to set up early shots on goal from Mason Miller and Mike Wright.
Those close calls by the Last Steep were enough to turn Alpine Lumber not-so-gracious and as Last Steep goalie Devon Carillo was just stepping onto the ice, Molly Frame had slipped into the slot to poke the puck into the empty net for a 1-0 Alpine Lumber lead.
Two minutes later Alpine Lumber connected again as Slater sent a pass cross ice to dad Mikey and Mikey pushed it ahead to Paul Tilger for Tilger to lift the puck over Carillo’s shoulder for a 2-0 advantage.
But then the James Brennan effect took hold. Well, really the Shane McGuinness effect. McGuinness started to do what he does, skate around and around looking to set up his Last Steep teammates. His effort resulted in a scramble in front of the Alpine Lumber net with the puck just sitting there underneath everyone until Brennan managed to swipe at it and tip it over the line for a Last Steep goal.