Spiders 3-3 tie with Grizzlies extends unbeaten streak to five

There was a point midway through the second period on Sunday during the B1 Spiders rematch with the Grizzlies where an exchange between opposing players serving coincidental penalties was loud enough to be overheard on the benches. The slightly testy, but constructive dialogue summed up what might be best described as a feisty two months for the B1 Spiders.

“You know why you guys suck? You get too many penalties,” an unnamed Grizzlies player yelled over to his penalty mate in a Spiders uniform.

“Have you checked the standings?” the unnamed Spiders player answered. “We don’t suck anymore. But gosh, you’re right, think about how good we could be if we didn’t spend so much time in the box.”

And with that, the Spiders – despite being assessed seven penalties in their rematch against the defending B1 champs – proceeded to scrap their way to a 3-3 tie at St. Thomas Ice Arena in Mendota Heights.

In a game where they never trailed, the Spiders got an early game goal from Jason Yancey (his 9th of the season) and two goals (including a second period short hander) from Aaron Forsman. They also received another brilliant performance from goaltender Greg Buell, who stopped 36 of 39 shots…immediately after Buell was tapped as an emergency sub for the B1 Venom in their tilt against the Barons.

The well-deserved tie extended the Spiders (8-8-2, 18 points) unbeaten streak to a season high five games. It also keeps the Red-and-Black in the playoff picture for at least another week.

Despite all those positives, the locker room and Spiders fan section felt unsatisfied. Some said they let slip away a win against a top team that was there for the taking. Maybe because the Spiders – who lead the B1 tier in PIMs – spent 14 minutes of the game shorthanded. Maybe because this team is clicking and knows that it can now not only hang with – but even defeat – the division’s best teams on any given night. Regardless, this is a team that seems determined to finish their second-half turnaround on a winning note. Let’s just hope penalty minutes don’t get in the way.

Sunday’s action started with a bang as Yancey netted the first goal of the game just 2:30 into the first period. His quick strike came on a snazzy two-line outlet pass from defenseman Hank Long to Joe Long, who deftly slid the puck across to Yancey in the low slot during a 2-on-1.

The Spiders didn’t maintain that lead for long, as the Grizzlies answered just 90 seconds later when defenseman K. Steinhauser buried a goal on a quick transition play after the Spiders coughed up the puck on the blue line.

Aaron Forsman put the Spiders back in the lead at 10:31 in the first on an unassisted goal. The Grizzlies tied the game at 2-2 in the waning minutes of the second period.

Forsman then scored a shorthand goal (assist from Dominic Forsman) just 92 seconds into the second period, after swashbuckling his way through the Grizzlies players and deking the goalie out of his jock.

The Grizzlies tied the game at 3-3 with 6:32 remaining in the second period. After that, both teams battled hard in front of their own nets, and fended off several scoring chances…including through 5 minutes of a scoreless overtime.

The effort means that for at least one more week, the Spiders are still breathing in the playoff hunt.

HOT SECOND HALF

The Spiders are now 5-1-2 in the second half of their inaugural season. Only the division-leading Ligers (who the Spiders defeated last week) have recorded more points (13) than the Spiders have over their last 8 games.

PLAYOFF PICTURE

On a night where a win would have left the Spiders controlling their playoff destiny, they did receive some help from the Ligers, who handed the fourth-place Piranhas (10-7-1, 21 points) a loss. The Outlaws (9-9, 18 points), which had been reeling over the last month, won an important game against the Mad Dogs. The Barons (10-5-3) defeated the Venom, joining the Grizzlies (12-4-1-1) and Ligers (13-2-3) as the three (out of a field of four) teams that have clinched playoff spots. That leaves the Spiders, Piranhas and Outlaws battling for the last playoff spot with two games remaining for each team.

Here is the three-step process that would result in a Spiders playoff berth, according to the AHA rules for regular season tiebreakers (see below*):

1) Spiders must defeat the Venom this Saturday and the Piranhas next Saturday.

2) The Piranhas must either tie or lose to the Grizzlies this Saturday and to the Spiders next Saturday.

3) The Outlaws must record at least one tie or loss over their final two games, against the Lakers and Barons.

*AHA regular season tiebreakers:

In the event of a tie in the regular season standings, the following criteria are used to determine post-season seeding:

  1. Total points in the regular season.
  2. Number of wins in the regular season.
  3. Head-to-head record between teams in the regular season (Applicable only if equal amount of games have been played between tied teams).
  4. Fewest total penalty minutes in the regular season.
  5. Fewest goals allowed in the regular season.
  6. Most goals scored in the regular season.
  7. Coin toss.

For details, see the box score and game summary.

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