Shorthanded Spiders keep first-place Puck Hounds at bay

The Spiders, at least 11 of them, returned to action after the holiday break, and knocked the Puck Hounds out of first with a 5–2 win.

The Spiders arriving at SLP Saturday night were greeted with an overflowing parking lot, media trucks, utter chaos in the lobby, concourse and sidewalks. Could the huge crowds have turned out to see a rematch of the only team to keep the Spiders out of the win column in the regular season last year? Or to see whether the surging Spiders, who have won four in a row after a sluggish start, could match up to the first-place Puck Hounds (7–1)? Nope. Instead, the crowds were out in force for the #jabs game between SLP and BSM. Had they stuck around with the 11 AHA fans in attendance, they would’ve seen the Spiders, who could’ve easily crumbled with just 10 skaters, get on the board first and set the tone for the late-night game.

Right winger Tim Byland got the Spiders on the board first early, just 1:41 into the game, the fastest goal of the season (though not a team record), netting his first career AHA goal, assists to Schwinn and Lavigne. Then, a Hound turnover at the blueline led to a breakaway late in the first for Byland got him his second and put the Spiders up by two to finish the first.

Late in the second, a second-chance shot by defenseman Mike Schroeder was deflected in the slot by Dave Lavigne, giving Lavigne his first C3-level goal. (Lavigne was called up in late December from the Spiders’ D1-level farm club the Ice Sages, in exchange for draft picks to be named later.)

The second period horn signaled the Spiders were up 3–0.

The Hounds did answer back early in the third on a neutral zone turnover in the first, with a highlight-reel toe drag by the Hounds’ Sisco, putting the score at 3–1 at the 1:30 mark.

Just three minutes later though, it was Freed’s turn to add some insurance. His breakaway beat the goalie, with assist to Berman, and put the Spiders back up by three. However, a power play goal for the Hounds thanks to a vicious goaltender interference call against Cory Vandenberge (who was a favorable +1 in the penalties drawn to called ratio tonight), gave the Puck Hounds late hope. That glimmer was quickly quashed just 11 seconds later, as Freed picked up loose change in the left slot, assists to Schwinn and Lavigne.

None of the scoring would’ve mattered though if it wasn’t for the outstanding play of goaltender Bill McCormick, who was a gametime decision thanks to a “Middle Body” injury.

With a gassed four-man defensive corps in front of him, which was actually down to three for a shift or two in the second period due to an “upper body” injury to Byland, Bill stood on his head, making save after save, denying any chance the Hounds had to come back in the game. He ended up getting 24 shots against, adding up to 22 saves.

On the other end, the Hounds’ Guarneri made 18 of 23 saves.

2011–12 C3 Standings (Week 9)
Wingmen 9 7 1 0 1 15
Puck Hounds 9 7 2 0 0 14
Spiders 9 6 2 0 1 13
Nighthawks 9 5 3 1 0 11
Fighting Saints 9 5 3 1 0 11
Royals 9 5 4 0 0 10
Mintalar Moose 9 5 4 0 0 10
Maroons 9 4 4 1 0 9
Diablos 9 4 5 0 0 8
Fighting Piranhas 9 3 5 1 0 7
Sled Dogs 9 3 6 0 0 6
Lakers 9 3 6 0 0 6
Fighting Ice Fish 9 3 6 0 0 6
Ak Bars 9 0 6 2 1 3

The win over the Hounds will move the Spiders up a notch to the third place (6–2–0–1; 13 pts.) as soon as the league gets the scores in, and will actually pull the Hounds out of first (7–2–0–0; 14 pts.), as the Wingmen gain ground with 15 points (7–1–0–1).

Lifetime with the Puck Hounds, it’s now 2–0–1.

Next up

Next up for the Spiders, it’s a faceoff against a new team, albeit with familiar faces. The Mintalar Moose was formed this off-season by former Whitesnakes, the Spiders’ and friends AHA Summer 2010 team) Brandon Hofer, Grant Wold and Brian Vesall. Brandon and Grant also skated with the Spiders in the 2011 Fall Tourney. The team has seen considerable success on the ice so far, currently in 7th place with a 5–4 record, including a 8–2 whopping of the Diablos Saturday night. Plus, Vesall is leading all of C3 in points (15) and assists (9). Last season against the Spiders, while playing for the Royals, Vesall notched a goal and two assists in three games, as well as an unprintable quote or two for the Spider bench. Will he be able to repeat his offensive prowess next week, or just repeat his quote? Find out next Saturday, puck drops at 9:30 p.m. at Breck.

For details, see the box score and game summary.

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