Newcomer Jeff Ford scored two goals, and came within inches of netting the winner with four seconds remaining, in the first roller game of the year Thursday against the Chupacabres. The Squirrels came away with a 3-3 tie while only skating two full lines.
Ford got the scoring started in the first period on a pass from Desmond Richelsen, and scored again in the second period. With 7 minutes remaining in the game, Ben Sumner scored shorthanded after Kit Watson drove it into the zone. Goaltender Brian Byrne made several outstanding saves, many at point-blank, to keep the Squirrels in the game. One odd moment came in the second half when his helmet came off before the Chupacabres scored, but the goal didn’t count because the rules state that the play must end for safety reasons.
The Squirrels took a 3-2 lead into the final minutes, but the Chupacabres scored on a late power play. The Squirrels were missing captain Ed Bager, Don Marks, Wade Marks and Matt Borlik.
The next roller game is Thursday, April 21, 8:30 against Mors ab Alto.
Also Thursday, only an hour after the roller game, the Squirrels ice team showed up for their playoff game against the Cobras in Wheaton. Unfortunately for both teams, the referees didn’t come. The teams scrimmaged for an hour or so. The makeup game will be announced later.
If there was any consolation to Sunday’s 3-2 playoffs loss to the Cobras, it’s that the Squirrels will get to play again Thursday against the loser of Tuesday’s Panthers-Cobras game.
Like in last week’s 5-2 victory, the Squirrels outshot the Cobras and controlled the zone much of the game. But the shots didn’t start falling until late in the third period after the Cobras had already taken a 3-0 lead. The teams skated to a scoreless first period, and then the Cobras stormed out in the second, scoring on fastbreaks.
Adam Hughes finally put the Squirrels on the board with about 7 minutes remaining in the game, and Chi Pham scored from the blueline to cut the score to 3-2. But the Cobras held on, despite being outshot 27-17. The Squirrels played without Matt Borlik, Joseph Wu, and Jon Magi. Defenseman Don Marks played with a broken toe.
The next game is Thursday, April 14, 9:30 p.m. in Wheaton, only two hours after the first roller game of the season in Laurel.
An absurd number of power plays and improved all-around play made the difference for the Squirrels in their 5-2 victory Thursday against the Cobras in the regular-season finale.
The game started with Hockey North America’s referees enforcing the dress code and penalizing the Cobras 3 times û including twice at once û with minors during the first period. Even the Squirrels didn’t care that their opponents had mismatched helmets or socks, violations under HNA rules. If it was any consolation to the Cobras, the Squirrels failed to score in the first period, but it helped the Squirrels hold them to only 3 shots.
Chris Long got the scoring started during an early second-period power play on a centering pass from Don Marks. Long scored his second during a penalty kill soon after, assisted by Wade Marks. Later, Long’s rebound fell behind the net to Jared Genser who put it in the net during another power play, to put the Squirrels up 3-0. The Cobras had only 4 shots in the second period.
The Cobras put on far greater intensity and cut the lead to 3-2 in the third period. They posted 14 shots and scored twice during flurries around the net, including once during the first half of a double-minor penalty. The Squirrels killed the remainder of that penalty, and afterward took back control of the game. Don Marks û only one of four defensemen to suit up û scored on his second breakaway of the period, assisted by Philip Van der Vossen and goaltender Drew Theimann. With less than a minute to go in the game, Ben Sumner and Wenograd forechecked the Cobras deep in the zone during a penalty kill. After several takeaways, Wenograd shot from near the point and Sumner flipped in a backhanded rebound for the second short-handed goal. It was Sumner’s first goal in seven games. The Squirrels went 2 for 7 on the power play, and scored in 2 of 5 short-handed situations while only giving up one goal on the penalty kill.
The Squirrels played without Juan Canchasto, Charles Wolstein, and Jon Magi. For the first time in months, the Squirrels skated four sets of wingers and three centers. The playoffs begin Sunday, April 10, 7:45 p.m. in Wheaton, also against the Cobras. Center Matt Borlik will miss all of the playoffs due to a scheduling conflict.
The Gardens Ice House released the 2005 schedule this week, and the Squirrels will find themselves playing many familiar opponents this summer. Returning to the C level are The 5 Holes, Hurricanes, Bullhawks, Mors ab Alto, and Chupacabres. The Fish are the only team the Squirrels haven’t yet seen. Noticeably missing this season are Honkey Kong and the Wolk Pack, teams that the Squirrels have never lost to. Also missing are the Alliance, and the 2004 champions The Rocks, who moved up to the B level.
If history is any indication, the Squirrels’ biggest rival this summer is bound to be the Hurricanes. The Squirrels-Hurricanes rivalry started in 2003 when the teams split the first two games of the championship before the deciding game was canceled due to Hurricane Isabel. In 2004, the teams split. In the first game, the Hurricanes shut down the Squirrels, 5-1. In the second game, the momentum was solidly in the Canes’ favor before a high-sticking incident drew blood on defenseman Kit Watson’s face, giving the Squirrels a five-minute power play that couldn’t expire due to scoring. Watson had a goal and two assists during that time, and late in the game Desmond Richelson shot in the game winner to give the Squirrels their most thrilling roller victory of the year.
The first team practice of the season will be Thursday, April 7 at 9:30 p.m. Several team members also play pick-up on Sunday mornings at the New Carrolton rink.