Spiders skate to second moral victory of the season in 4–2 loss to Royals on Hockey Day In America

The Spiders haven’t been in a tie game late in the third period since December. But loss to Royals means Spiders eliminated from playoffs earliest in franchise history.

The Spiders celebrated Hockey Day In America by skipping their afternoon nap and heading back to over-refrigerated Highland Arena for the second time in a week, the previous trip resulting in a 5–2 loss to the Ak Bars. The Spiders were thoroughly outplayed in that game, having been on a three-week bye thanks to the Polar Vortex.

This game, the Spiders and Royals, both short-benched, skated to a 0–0 stalemate after one. And in the second, it was the Spiders who got on the board the first time, courtesy of Dave Sommerness in his first of a Sunday doubleheader. That’s the first time the Spiders have had a lead in a game since Jan. 3.

Of course, that lead lasted all of 80 seconds, with the Royals re-knotting the game at 1, where it would stay until midway through the third when the Royals got up by one on a bad change by the Spiders.

The seven fans in attendance for the matinee were shocked, however, when the Spiders actually tied the game late in a game. With just over three minutes to go, in an AHA hockey game, the Spiders were in a tie game.

Other than the lone W of the season on Dec. 23, where the Spiders defended a first-period lead to run out the clock, the Spiders hadn’t been in a game that late since Dec. 16 against the Maroons, when the vaunted Spiders power play short-circuited twice in the last five minutes of the game. And before that, on Nov. 27 vs. the IceDogs, the Spiders had an early third-period lead that evaporated at the 5-minute mark.

Well, that high-water mark lasted all of 19 seconds, with the Royals getting a fluke goal of their own with just 3:02 to go. Royals 3–2.

After a timeout at 1:20, the Spiders pulled McCormick, who played a stellar game to keep the Spiders in it late, including two that rattled off the post and back under. Unfortunately, the second Royal possession led to a two-on-one and the ENG dagger with 24 seconds to go.

Final score: 4–2.

But a moral victory for the Spiders. One the Spiders will gladly take while they play for a post-season bye.

In honor of Hockey Day In America and Hockey Week Across America sponsored by USA Hockey, the Spiders twice wondered why the AHA-assigned officials seemed to have a few pages torn out of their USAH rulebooks.

Rule 614 | Falling on Puck

(b) A penalty shot/optional minor penalty shall be assessed to the non-offending team when any player, except the goalkeeper, falls on the puck, gathers the puck into his body or uses the hands to hold the puck while in the goal crease. For application of this rule, the decision as to whether the puck is in the crease is made at the moment the infraction occurs.

Rule 618 | Handling Puck with Hands

(a) A minor penalty for delay of game shall be assessed to any player, other than the goalkeeper, who picks the puck up from the ice with his hand(s) while play is in progress.

The Spiders (and the striped crew) got a clear look at both of these casebook entries. In the second period, a Royal defender landed chest-first on the puck in the crease, and pulled it out with his hand covering the puck to slide it under his goalie before the whistle.

And in the third, following the delayed penalty to Berman at the 5:00 mark, the Royal trippee picked up the puck with his hand and literally threw it at the Spider net while play continued.

The ref, seeing nothing wrong when questioned about this must’ve been confused since pitchers and catchers reported to Spring Training this week, and the Spiders decided not to find out how these refs interpret rule 601 (Abuse of Officials and Other Misconduct).

Or as Chris said, “Meatball Hockey.”

Standings Watch

2018–19 C3 East Standings (Week 14)
Moose 14 12 2 0 0 24 66 27 80
Maroons 14 7 0 4 3 21 49 41 75
Les Etoiles du Nord 14 9 3 1 1 20 45 34 52
Royals 14 7 5 2 0 16 43 43 64
Wildcats 14 7 6 1 0 15 51 45 84
Arctic Wolves 14 5 5 3 1 14 63 54 66
Knights 14 6 7 1 0 13 38 48 60
Ak Bars 14 5 7 2 0 12 45 52 78
Icedogs 14 4 9 1 0 9 35 52 115
Spiders 14 1 12 1 0 3 26 59 66

The Royals flip-flop with the Wildcats again to slide back into the C3 East playoff cutoff, at 7–5–2–0 and 16 points. And improve their dominating lifetime record against the Spiders, which now stands at 6–13–2 for the Spiders going back to 2005–06.

The Spiders hold onto last place tighter than a puck by a player violating USAH Rules 614 or 618, with a 1–12–1–0 record. And, those same Royals, by attaining 16 points, and holding the Spiders to their three points with six games remaining, not even funny AHA math can rescue the Spiders post-season hopes. The playoffs are officially out of reach for the Spiders.

That means it’s the earliest the Spiders have ever been eliminated from post-season contention, notwithstanding the 2007–08 season when the then D1 Spiders declared it golf season after just three games, two and a half of those played without their goalie.

Waste Management™ Playoff Contention Elimination Games
Season Level Regular Season
Pts Place Pts
2005–06 D2 2–17–0–1 5 9th 21 15
2006–07 D2 12–7–1–0 25 5th 6 18
2007–08 D1 3–17–0–0 6 7th 19 3*
2008–09 D1 16–1–2–1 35 1st
2009–10 D1 10–8–2–0 22 4th
2010–11 D1 19–0–1–0 39 1st
2011–12 C3 10–7–2–1 23 6th
2012–13 C3 11–9–0–0 22 4th
2013–14 C3 12–7–1–0 25 3rd
2014–15 C3 7–10–2–1 17 9th 6 19
2015–16 C3 8–11–1–0 17 6th 6 18
2016–17 C3 7–11–2–0 16 9th 7 18
2017–18 C3 8–10–1–1 18 7th 4 19
2018–19 C3 1–12–1–0 3 10th 13 14
* Based on locker room sentiment (but actually week 16).

Next up

Next up, the Spiders are not at Highland finally, at Breck, which is usually just as chilly, to take on the Maroons again.

The Maroons impressively have ZERO regulation losses this season, going 7–0–4–3 to accumulate 21 points, good enough for second place. They are coming off a 3–2 win over the Arctic Wolves Sunday afternoon.

Puck drop at Breck is Saturday, Feb. 23, at 9:30 p.m.

For details, see the box score and game summary.

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