The Hawks’ GM, Tim Scharer, was kind enough to invite me back to Eric Coy Arena to support the Hawks and to resurrect optimistic and friendly banter in The Fish Report.
My son, Max, played two seasons with the Hawks but aged out during the COVID fiasco. I missed seeing the Hawks and their tenacious team style so it is with great enthusiasm that I return to their midst.
Friday night’s game saw Cam McDonald (#19) playing in his 100th game as a Hawk! Congrats to Cam on his achievement. (does this mean he gets a pension?!)
Stonewall entered the game winless, sporting an 0-4-1 record. They certainly did not come out of the gate looking like a floundering team. Wave upon wave of Jets buzzed into the Hawks’ D-zone early in the 1st and their persistence paid off 5:25 into frame. Zack Meadows (30) had made a spectacular save on a puck deflection but the rebound flew to a Jet who whacked it into the net. There was some controversy as the Jets’ player appeared to have struck the puck with a high stick. The referees consulted one another and the goal was allowed to stand.
Meadows continued his stellar play, however, and the Jets were stymied throughout the remainder of the 1st.
Mid-way through the 1st a bit of hockey comedy occurred when Riley Dudych’s (#11) helmet’s cage got entwined with the helmet of a Jets player. The helmet popped off the Jets’ player’s head and Dudych was briefly two-headed. He untethered the additional bucket and tossed it to the ice, much to the chagrin of the referee who promptly gave Dudych a minor for Unsportsmanlike Conduct. The Hawks killed the penalty and it was the turning point of the game.
Late in the 1st the Hawks went on a PP and, ten seconds into it, Ryland Hueging (#12) ripped a wrister at the Jets’ netminder who could not fully stop the puck’s momentum and it hit him and fluttered over his shoulder and into the net. Twelve seconds later, Ben Zander (#18) spotted Hueging in the slot, fed him a perfect pass and Hueging had two goals in twelve second to give the Hawks a 2-1 lead heading to the intermission.
With twenty seconds remaining in the 1st, Stonewall started to show signs of cracking under the pressure and took yet another late period penalty. As the 2nd began, a lovely 4-way passing play; Jason Ruff (#22) to Matt Carlson (#16) to Hueging to Logan Danis (#21) saw the tenacious forward net a PP goal sixteen seconds in. 3-1 Hawks.
A minute later, Evan Warsaba (#26) was called for roughing but again Meadows made three terrific saves on the PK. As the penalty ended, Ruff cleared the goal mouth, moved the puck to Zander who pushed it up to Carlson who flew up the ice and beat the flustered Jets’ keeper to make it 4-1.
Only 4:34 into the 2nd, a lovely tic-tac-toe play saw McDonald move the puck to Danis who fed Zander and he bulged the twine, 5-1 Hawks, and chased the Jets’ goalie from the game.
The Jets could not contain their chagrin or stop the Hawks’ onslaught and they received yet another Unsportsmanlike penalty, frustrated by Zander’s tally.
The two teams traded multiple penalties over the next dozen minutes; the Hawks had a brief 5-on-3 advantage but couldn’t solve the Jets’ new keeper. With three minutes remaining in the 2nd, the Jets sniped a PP goal and it was 5-2. With forty-four seconds remaining in the 2nd the Hawks took another minor but the strong forward PK duo of Zander and Carlson twice stole the puck and had glorious scoring opportunities, only to be stopped by Stonewall’s replacement goaltender.
The 3rd began and 2:27 in, McDonald passed to Zander who found Hueging who made no mistake and netted his hat-trick. 6-2.
Less than a minute later the Hawks made it 7-2, then 8-2. The Jets continued their undisciplined play and took four consecutive minor penalties. Their keeper was playing well but unending pressure saw yet another puck get by him. With nine minutes remaining, McDonald, with a head of steam, picked up the puck at his own blue line, raced by the Jets’ defenders and cut across the Jets’ crease and made it 9-2.
This was a game of total domination for the Hawks and the Jets’ were their own worst enemy. Their lack of control (a baker’s-dozen of minor penalties) ultimately signed their fate and the game ended 9-2.
McDonald and Warsaba displayed great speed all night. Hueging deftly displayed why he is the league’s top scorer. D-pair of Ruff and (not on my program) #6 were tough, patient and solid all night.
And, of course, Meadows quietly did his work and kept the puck out of his cage all night as the Jets tried to mount an attack and then a come-back that was not to be. Kudos to Meadows on a near-perfect game.
It’s great to be back. Best of luck to the Hawks tomorrow in Morris and I’ll report from ‘The Coy’ next Friday night when the Hawks take on the Vics.