There are so many beginnings to a Game 7 that one must accept them and simply sit back, enjoy and hope the local squad seals the deal. 

Tonight’s game started this way; 

Tyson Van Alstyne – out 

Hayden Forrest – out 

Ryland Hueging – out 

Matt Carlson – out 

Ben Zander – out 

Brayden Stevenson – out 

Oh dear…six ‘starters’ out of the line-up. 

This did not bode well for the Hawks and all one could do is cross his or hers collective fingers and hope that fate might roll a friendly pair of dice in the Hawks’ favour. 

As I drove to The Coy I listened to NHL’s Hurricanes at Capitals. Carolina is firmly entrenched in the post-season and Washington are fighting for their playoff lives. 

Advantage; Carolina 

Outcome; Caps 7 Canes 6 (magic?...similarity?) 

The Vics stole the puck and fired an on-ice shot past Zack Meadows (#30) 4:17 into the game. 

It was, as expected, a frantic beginning to an ultimate game. 

The ‘Coy’ was almost full. A ‘Game 7’ brings out the moms and dads and aunts and uncles and nieces and nephews from both squads so the stands were raucous throughout. 

Cam McDonald (#19) earned his Captain’s stripes tonight and was a force all game. His speed and focus is the reason the Hawks are still alive and in the hunt for the trophy. 

Midway through the 1st, Cam rushed up the ice, held the Vics’ D-man at bay and fed Kai Smith (#27) a lovely pass which Smith wired home to tie the game at 1’s. 

The crowd hoped the 1st would end tied but the Hawks were caught ‘puck-watching’ instead of ‘man-checking’ and with 36 seconds remaining in the 1st, the Hawks were down 2-1. 

As the period ended, the Hawks found themselves, again, defending their territory and Nicholas Guberman (#24) engaged a Vics’ player on a deep-down battle and was assessed a cross-checking penalty to end the period. It was a poor call as both players had their sticks up so the Hawks entered the 2nd a man short. 

Sure enough, the Vics took advantage and, as Guberman’s penalty was about to expire, the Vics capitalized and made it 3-1. 

Less than a minute later the Hawks showed they were not here to simply play out the outcome and McDonald found his streaking D-man Ian McDonald (#23) who wristed home a beautiful shot to cut the lead to one, 3-2 Vics. 

Four minutes after that a weak Hawks’ clearing pass was intercepted and capitalized by the on-rushing Vics and it was 4-2. 

Half-way through the period McDonald was hooked and the Hawks went on the PP. Lucas Van Norman (#5) (a tower of strength and maybe the best ‘hip-checker’ in the league) fed McDonald who found an open-Elliott Lewis (#8) who buried a wrister to bring the Hawks up to a 4-3 deficit. 

Riley Dudych, (#11) who always plays at 110%, was assessed a slashing penalty at the 14:42 mark and the collective crowd moaned their shame. The Hawks gathered their fortitude and just before Dudych returned to the ice, Jaden Waddell (#4) fed Nicholas Guberman (#24) who spotted a wide-open Nathan Vigfusson (#14) who made a great short-handed deke and it was 4-4. 

The crowd was ‘into it,’ the players were ‘into it,’ and Friday night was abuzz at The Coy. 

The local crowd was given yet another moment of remorse as the Vics held the puck in the Hawks’ zone and made it 5-4 with three minutes remaining in the 2nd. 

The magic continued before the 2nd period ended as Michael Spence (#9) dumped the puck deep, chased it down and battled behind the Vics’ net to free the disc and feed it to Kai Smith (#27) who back-handed a lovely shot to end the 2nd; 5-5 and his second goal of the contest. 

As Will Kinsmen (Head Coach) left the bench to the dressing room after the 2nd, he looked up at me in the stands and raised his eyebrows in a ‘maybe?…miracle?’ look which I returned, in kind…’why not?’ 

The 3rd started off unkindly and a ‘possible’ kicked-in goal gave the visitors a 6-5 lead. 

The crowd was electric and the magic of sports was at play, entirely. 

Five minutes later the Hawks continued their ‘push’ and a goal-mouth scramble saw Kai Smith grab the puck and knot the game at 6’s…Kai’s hat-trick goal. The mesh around the arena makes it impossible to toss one’s hat onto the ice but there were more than a bucket-full of hats which hit the mesh in celebration of Smith’s third marker of the evening. 

The Hawks looked the better team throughout the 3rd as their forechecking and pressure had the Vics on the ropes. 

Half way through the 3rd the Hawks went on the PP and Elliot Lewis (#8) slid the puck over to Lucas Van Norman (#5) who spotted an open Guberman who ripped home a wrister for the Hawks’ first lead of the game. 

The Vics were totally taken aback by their deficit and received two minor penalties down the final ten minutes, one of which contained a head-shot infraction which saw one of the Vics’ better players assessed an additional ten-minute misconduct for the act. 

The Vics pulled their goalie with 1:40 remaining, had a few goal-mouth chances but Zack Meadows (#30) earned his stripes and kept the puck out of the net and; ZAM; 7-6 Hawks win! 

What an effort from a team depleted in their ranks. 

#21, Logan Danis, rejoined the squad and was a buzzsaw alongside Riley Dudych (#11) all night long. Great to see Logan back on the bench! 

Ian Macdonell (#23) played his best game of the season and was an instrumental part of the victory. 

What a fantastic effort, what a fantastic game. 

Onto Round 2 vs the first place Canucks. 

Let’s shock them! 


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