Oct. 27, 2019
2019–20 Spiders tie the 2018–19 Spiders in wins, with opening-night 4–1 victory over Flying Hellfish.
Three hundred and seven days — that’s how long it’s been since the Spiders tasted the sweet frosted beer (or cider, or root beer...) mug of victory.
The Spiders dropped the puck on the 2019–20 season with an opening night 4–1 victory at the Hopkins Pavilion over the new-to-C3 Flying Hellfish.
After a first-period stalemate, the Flying Hellfish cashed in on a Chris “I’m staying out of the box” O’Connor penalty, with a loose puck sitting under goaltender Bill McCormick and too many Hellfish sticks in close.
It took another 10 minutes, but the Spider offense finally arrived, with Jason Freed getting the Spiders on the board, from Pappone and Sutton.
A minute into the third, the Spiders took the lead with a backdoor cleanup goal by Cory Vandenberghe, in the right place at the right time, assists to Grotbeck in the slot and Litton from the point. The almost identical play repeated itself 10 minutes later, with Vandenberghe in the right place at the right time, assists to Grotbeck in the slot and Matt Kato (in his Spider debut) from the point.
The nightcap came on a 200-foot play, Litton to Farner to Mike Johnson following a rare Hellfish penalty.
It was the Spiders, the blue line in particular, that was usually on the receiving end of ref Mark Winters’ whistle, with Sutton and Litton sitting once, and O’Connor twice. But Jason “Lady Byng” Freed got the most important penalty, with 1:38 remaining allowing the Spiders to ice the puck … and the game.
It’s been 5 years since Jason last got a two-minute sit, on Nov. 1, 2014, vs. the Gold Rush, only his second penalty in eight seasons and 136 games played.
McCormick made 21 saves for the win on 22 shots (5, 9, 8), while AHA veteran goalie (and occasional Spider sub) Ken Youngdahl, newly acquired by the Hellfish, made 22 saves on 26 shots (6, 9, 11).
The win puts the Spiders in a tie for first place, a spot the Spiders haven’t seen since 2014–15 (an opening night win over the Mill City Marauders, Oct. 26, 2014 … quickly squandered the following week against the Gold Rush, Jason’s last penalty game), and 19 more games to avoid tying the low-point record from last season.
Next up, the Spiders fall back to Hopkins for a Daylight Savings matchup with the idle Wildcats, who got the only C3 West bye this week.
The Spiders are 0–3 lifetime against the Wildcats, who finished 11–8–1–0 last season, one point out of a playoff spot.
Puck drop is 7:10 p.m. Central STANDARD time on Sunday.
For details, see the box score and game summary.