Three seconds remained in the game. With the Squirrels goaltender pulled and an extra skater on the rink, defender Kit Watson took a slap shot from just inside the center line. Through several screens, Enigma’s goaltender saved it – and the game – and the Squirrels lost their first playoff game in two years, 1-0, on Monday.
The game was bound to be low-scoring. The Squirrels and Enigma were one-two in defense, and had similar offensive numbers. They both finished the regular season with 27 points, though the Squirrels won the tiebreaker. The Squirrels clobbered Enigma, 7-1, earlier in the season, but a 2-2 game a couple of weeks ago made it clear that the teams were pretty much even down the stretch. And only a fluky goal would be the difference in a playoff game.
At 13:54 of the second period, a turnover, a shot off the post, a bad bounce, and a knuckler shot went past Squirrels goaltender Bob Sewell, and that was it. The Squirrels managed 21 shots while Enigma posted 19.
Enigma advances to Thursday’s finals against the winner of the 5 Holes-Snipe match, which already had four-times as many goals scored in the first half than the Squirrels-Enigma game.
The Squirrels played without Don Marks, Juan Canchasto and Matt Borlik.
Despite the loss, the Squirrels still gathered – as they usually do – at Barbeque Wings & Beer in Cloverly, showing no shame in a loss after posting a 14-6-1 record, a second-place regular season finish, and the best defense and goaltending in the division. The Squirrels will now turn their attention to ice, where they will attempt to defend their championship in the winter’s C league.