Spiders can’t finish, sunk by Spartans 3–2

The short-benched Spiders controlled two periods, til the Spartans (and the stripes) took over.

The customary short bench of the holiday season meant the Spiders had just 11 skaters available for the second of three consecutive Monday night games on the December schedule.

The Spiders headed to Richfield for the first time this season to take on the third-place — and last season’s C3 runners-up — Spartans (4–1–0–1).

Despite the Spartans playing with a full bench, the Spiders controlled the pace, and late in the first, Eric Grotbeck capitalized by waiting out the sub goalie Huerta to put the Spiders on the board, helpers to Pappone and Sutton.

As the second period dragged on, the Spiders’ skates began to look sluggish, but a pick-me-up by Jon Pappone from Sommerness gave the Spiders an improbable two-goal lead despite being outshot 12–7 in the period, but Billy was standing on his head, including making his record 100th career facial save. Gump Worsley would be proud.

Onto the third, where it took just 56 seconds for the Spartans to pull within one.

At 10:41, a “breakaway” snipe by Paul Berman seemed to reclaim the dreaded two-goal lead for the Spiders, but the trailing ref waved off the goal from the blue line, preserving the 2–1 score.

Trying to keep things exciting for the empty Richfield 2 bleachers, the refs succumbed to let-them-play chants from the Spartans’ bench, and instead only saw high-contrast Spider red against the white dasher boards. First sending Sutton, then Sommerness, to the penalty box, all the while ignoring the Spartans’ blatantly obvious — and occasionally apologized for — body checks, slashes and clutch-n-grabs.

With 12 seconds left on the 5-on-3, the Spartans sniped the equalizer to the top far corner from the hashmarks.

And after yet another unrequited Spider penalty, the Spartans capitalized on a loose-puck net-front scramble with two defensemen knocked horizontally by the Spartans forwards by apparently legal cross-checks. The dagger with under 4 minutes to go.

After a timeout at 1:40 remaining, the Spiders eventually pulled McCormick once the puck made it to the far blue line for the third time. But the Spiders had nothing in the gas tank, and continued the standings tank, falling 3–2.

The tilting of the ice can be seen in the shot totals — 9, 7 and 5 for the Spiders, and 6, 12 and 12 for the Spartans. McCormick played one of his best games of the season, keeping the game within reach for the Spiders.

2019–20 C3 West Standings (Week 7)
Hooligans 7 6 1 0 0 12 40 12 65
Spartans 7 5 1 0 1 11 20 11 42
Troopers 7 5 1 1 0 11 24 16 30
Ice Hawks 7 4 3 0 0 8 26 27 38
Blade Runners 8 4 4 0 0 8 26 31 72
Spiders 7 2 3 1 1 6 23 24 78
Wildcats 7 1 4 2 0 4 20 29 71
Nordeasters 7 1 4 2 0 4 16 30 24
Flying Hellfish 7 1 6 0 0 2 14 29 38

With the fourth consecutive loss, the Spiders continue their reversion to the 2018–19 mean, at 2–3–1–1, clinging to 6th place thanks to the loser points. The Spartans jump up to a tie for second, at 5–1–0–1.

Next up, the third of three consecutive Monday nights to finish out the 2019 half of the season, strategically scheduled to test Skol/Cheddar allegiance. Perhaps the Ice Hawks (4–3; 4th place) will succumb to more MNF scratches than the Spiders.

Puck drop is 9 p.m. at Braemar W. And the MNF score will be on radio silence for those recording the game.

For details, see the box score and game summary.

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