3-2 Hawks (OT)

The snow has fallen, kids will be triple-layering on their Halloween outings and all things are right with the Hawks.

Firstly, let me begin by congratulating Tyson Van Alstyne (#6) on his solid play last Friday night versus the Stonewall Jets. Tyson’s name wasn’t on the game program so he was mentioned in my game recap only as #6. Nice to put Tyson’s name to his number.

If you are a hockey fan and attended Friday night’s game, you were certainly entertained.

There was a little trepidation to begin with as we only saw one referee hit the ice with the two linesmen. (linespersons, actually, as one was a woman) The single referee did an admirable job, however, and caused no major discrepancies in the outcome.

We congratulated Ben Zander (#18) as he entered this, his 100th game playing for the Hawks. Ben had accumulated 60 points in those 99 previous games and has been a bright spot and a team-leader throughout. His efforts in Game 100 did not disappoint.

St. Vital sit in fifth place in the standings and were a much more organized crew than the penalty-riddled, frustrated gang of Jets we saw last Friday night.

The game immediately had high pace and, from their initial shift, the line of Tazio Cianflone (#4), Riley Dudych (#11) and Nathan Vigfusson (#14) showed good speed and pressure in the O-zone.

If there’s something I like in a hockey team it is tenacious forechecking. Once a team establishes that pressure, deep, their opponents can hear ‘footsteps’ at every attempt to clear their own zone. (foreshadowing)

Also of note was D Ian Macdonell (#23) who was head’s-up and was making crisp zone-clearing passes to propel his forwards up the ice and into the Vic’s D-zone.

In the 1st, Jason Ruff (#22) made a nice defensive play, breaking up a 2- on-1 by laying out and negaHng a pass across his own slot to the Vics’ awaiting forward.

Minutes later, fleet-footed Matt Carlson (#16) made a nice check to spring Logan Danis (#21) who snapped a shot from the slot but it was expertly blocked by the Vics’ keeper.

As noted, the Hawks’ continual pressure deep paid off when Cam McDonald (#19) kept the puck in the O-zone with his skate a\er a burst of speed at the blue line. The puck went to Ruff who fed it to Ryland Hueging (#12) who found Zander and he found the net to make it 1-0 Hawks 11:53 into the game.

Five minutes later another lovely passing play from Hueging to Zander to McDonald created a glorious chance for the captain but the Vics’ netminder made a dazzling save to keep the score 1-0.

The 1st period ended 1-0 and, much different than last Friday’s melee, the penalty box was vacant for both squads through twenty minutes of play.

The 2nd period saw a bunch of solid body checks thrown by both teams. There’s nothing like a well-timed, clean hit to raise the enthusiasm of the crowd and of the benches.

Cianflone had a burst of speed which saw him negate an icing call and, as he let go of a slapshot when he reached the puck, the linesperson errantly blew the play down. Tazio had clearly beaten the Vics’ player but the whistle sounded and a few Vic players took exception to the shot Cianflone legitimately blasted.

The Vics’ fourth line got a chance 2:58 into the 2nd and got the tying marker on a bad bounce in a goalmouth scramble; 1-1.

The Hawks, determined to apologize to their netminder, Zack Meadows (#30), upped their effort with aplomb. A minute and a half after the Vics tied the game, Cianflone rang one off the post. Shortly after that, McDonald fed Van Alstyne at the point who smartly wristed a shot through traffic. Hueging deflected the shot and then got his own rebound, banging it into the net at 6:22 to make it 2-1 Hawks.

Five minutes later, Carlson made a great deke on a burst of speed and got the puck by the Vics’ keeper but the net had come off its moorings. Seconds later, after the faceoff, Elliot Lewis (#8) sacrificed his body and took a big hit but made a great shot that the Vics’ keeper barely kept out of the net.

On his next shift, Logan Danis (#21) got the puck in the O-zone and made a great circular skate and found a path for a shot but was negated by the sharp Vics’ keeper.

With two minutes remaining in the 2nd, Dudych was sprung on a breakaway but was hauled down for what could have deemed a penalty shot. However, the penalty called was Cross-Checking so the Hawks went onto the PP. Much to the Hawks’ chagrin, the short-handed Vics placed some pressure in deep as the Hawks were setting up their break-out and the subsequent pass to the Vics’ blueline was intercepted. The two PK Vics’ forwards made a bouncy passing play and with 52 seconds remaining in the 2nd, their efforts saw their short-handed marker He the game; 2-2.

Rather than be deflated, the Hawks took the setback maturely and headed to the locker room to sort their final period’s plan out.

4:48 into the 3rd, Ruff was called for tripping but the Hawks weathered the storm and Meadows made a few timely saves to keep the game knotted at 2’s.

The score remained tied and, nine and a half minutes into the 3rd, the Vics burst forth on an odd-man rush. Dudych raced back to lift the stick of the impending Vics’ forward and his backcheck stopped a very plausible Vics’ scoring opportunity.

Like the forecheck magic, seeing the second effort from forwards busting their butts in a backchecking effort is equally inspiring.

A few minutes after that, Lewis (who got stronger as the night wore on) stole the puck in the Vics’ zone, made a couple of slippery moves and found Carlson who fired it just wide of the net.

A quick shout-out to Danis whose pace of play, all night, was nothing but speedy. Following in the footsteps of last Friday night’s effort by the D-pair of Ruff and Van Alstyne, Darien Schaan (#3) and partner Lucas Van Norman (#5) were stalwart in their D-efforts all game.

The ice was definitely tilting in the Hawks’ favour. Nine times the Vics’ goal came off its moorings as the Hawks swooped in...something had to give.

The 3rd ended 2-2 and OT started with a gasp for the assembled Hawks’ crowd as the Vics made a great pass and sprang their forward on a breakaway. Meadows held his ground and made brilliant blocker save to keep the game alive. The puck was cleared down the ice by Ruff and onto the Vics’ net. Their keeper played the puck behind his net and, as I’ve alluded to, the Hawks’ forecheck was about to earn its keep.

Zander, fleet-footed, hounded the Vics’ D and clattered the puck away from him. He made a quick pass out front to a streaking Hueging who buried the puck and secured the Hawks’ 3-2 victory.

A lovely ending and a great effort by Zander to celebrate his 100th Hawks’ game.

For the second Friday night in a row, Meadows was rock-solid in net.

The Hawks have a scant day and a half off to ice their bruises and get ready for their Sunday afternoon tilt with the first-place Canucks. It should be a doozy. (3:45 pm Sunday at The Coy...see you there!)

- Fish

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