Squirrels’ Near Win Turns to Defeat

In one of the most intense games of the season, the Screaming Squirrels came within two minutes of posting a victory Sunday, but lost the lead and then the game in overtime to the Panthers, 3-2.

First place in the division, the Panthers had already beaten the Squirrels twice this season, and the Squirrels knew they were in for a fight. After skating to a scoreless first period, the Panthers were first to strike with a bouncer from the point after the Squirrels failed to clear the zone. In the third period, defenseman Chi Pham skated around several players and sunk a shot from the left side to put the Squirrels on the board. Minutes later, Greg Wenograd scored as the second line kept up the pressure in the offensive zone.

With two minutes remaining, the Squirrels again failed to clear the zone and the Panthers took advantage to tie the game. With only seconds left, the Squirrels unleashed a series of shots in a final attempt to win in regulation. As the buzzer sounded, frustration set in, and the Squirrels took two end-of-regulation penalties, and headed into overtime one man down. The Panthers kept up the pressure and scored on the second shift during their power play.

Matt Borlik started in net for the first time this season for the Squirrels, making 22 saves. Oriana Senatore assisted on both goals, and Wenograd also had an assist.

The Squirrels played without starting goaltender Drew Thiemann, defenseman Sergio Balatan, and forward Jared Genser, who was in West Africa.

The next game is Thursday, March 31, 8:20 in Rockville against the Cobras.

Wade ‘Marks’ the Spot

Winger Wade Marks’ hat-trick saved the game for the Squirrels on Sunday night, as he netted the game winner in a 5-4 victory. The Squirrels outshot the Barbarians 46-11, dominated the offensive zone, yet didn’t seal the win until late in the game.

Marks got the scoring started by nailing in a rebound midway through the first period. Later, Chris Long scored shorthanded near the end of the Barbarians’ power play. With about a minute left in the period, one of the Barbarians covered the puck with his legs while lying in front of the net. Other Squirrels were calling for a whistle, but Philip Van der Vossen dug the puck from underneath the player and poked it past the goaltender.

The Barbarians managed to shut down the Squirrels in the second period and tied the game at 3, though the Squirrels continued to dominate in shots and possession. Early in the third, Marks scored his second of the game unassisted, but the Barbarians fought back and tied it up.

With about four minutes to go, Marks skated the puck into the zone and Matt Borlik followed. The forwards crossed, with Borlik drawing the defensemen, and Marks shot the puck in the top left corner, putting the Squirrels up for good.

Jared Genser also had a multi-point game with assists on Marks’ first goal and Van der Vossen’s. The Squirrels were missing Jon Magi, Joseph Wu and Robin Berlin. The next game is Sunday, March 20, 10 p.m. at Cabin John against the division-leading Panthers.

Pham’s Hat-Trick Downs Stingrays

Coming off a disappointing loss last week to a team in Division 5, the Screaming Squirrels needed to redeem themselves as they played another team from that division Sunday in Rockville. Defenseman Chi Pham almost single-handedly made that happen, scoring two unassisted goals in the first period and adding another in the third, spearheading a 5-2 victory against the Stingrays.

Chris Long also scored to put the team up 3-0 after one, but the Squirrels nearly lost the lead. The Stingrays scored two fastbreak goals, barely missed on a few other chances, and held the Squirrels scoreless in the second period.

Pham gave the Squirrels some breathing room in the third period, completing the hatrick and virtually locking up the game. Charles Wolstein later scored his first of the season from the blueline. Don Marks’ hard work at center set up the final two goals. The Squirrels finished with 36 shots on net, triple the total of the Stingrays.

Chi Pham before his hat-trick performance. The final scoreboard. The Squirrels skated without Greg Wenograd, Robin Berlin, Jon Magi, and Phil Van der Vossen, who attended the game and kept score. Van der Vossen hurt his knee while skiing last week, but expects to be back for next week’s game, Sunday at 6 p.m. in Wheaton against the Barbarians.

Forward Joseph Wu played his first game since October 21, when he tore his groin late in the game.

Photo Gallery: March 6, 2005