Spiders down Ice Hawks in holiday week return trip to the win column
Dec. 23, 2019
The Spiders retrieved their winning ways from the holiday week airport lost-n-found.
The Ice Hawks are the newly merged team combining the IceDogs and Nighthawks, both teams the Spiders have faced many times over the years. The Spiders last played the IceDogs last season, going (of course), 0–2, and 3–7 lifetime. The Nighthawks, teams of which date back to the Spiders’ first winter season in the league, last faced off against a Nighthawks team in the 2017–18 season, losing both matches, and 6–5–1–0 lifetime.
See table for Spiders lifetime vs. combined Nighthawks/Icedogs.
Back to tonight ...
With just 11 skaters available thanks to the holiday week schedule, the game definitely called for a chalk talk to stay in position, protect the house, blue line to blue line, and only one man on forecheck.
1st period leaned towards the enemy but Bill held strong despite a momentary lapse of house protection. 0–1. The rest of the period was relatively even with a few rushes by the Spiders to show we could get through their nests.
The Ice Hawks blinked first by surrendering a man with 30 secs to go at the end of the 1st. Couldn’t capitalize then, but only 7 seconds into the 2nd Pappone twinkled the twine off a beautiful 2v1 rush dish from Sommerness. 1–1.
The Hawks again went to the sin bin and the Spiders struck in a scrum at the net by Freed and Berman, 2–1. The shots continued in favor of the arachnids who accurately hit the opposing goalie’s chest or glove every single shot — and were rewarded with three 2nd period goals against as “here we go again” whispered off the empty Braemar walls. 4–2 bad guys at the end of the period — but the White and Red felt that getting back to the chalk talk plan would give them a shot — and boy did it ever work.
For whatever reason(s) — short bench, old age, C3 skill level, or the dreaded 2-goal lead in hockey — the Ice Hawks retreated in the face of the lurking Spiders. The Spiders waited and waited, playing a “protect the house” strategy until Braedel pounced by streaking up the right side and firing the puck to the far side, igniting the bench at approximately the 10- or 11-min mark of the 3rd (incorrectly listed on the official game sheet as 0:00). 4–3.
Not long after, the Ice Hawks found out the hard way that aggressive forechecking with four skaters deep in the Spiders zone is bad strategy as Schroeder got loose on a semi-breakaway on a sweet Farner area pass from his own goal line. Upper corner. 4–4. Tie game. The arena was electric. Well, the lights flickered a little and the ice definitely tilted towards the charging Spiders.
The Ice Hawks seemed stunned, but pushed back. Slightly. McCormick held strong for 5 back-and-forth minutes until the Hawks couldn’t help themselves with another infraction. Back to the man advantage and blistering shots from the point by the defensive core, who were open all night. After several play stoppages off shots, Farner finally corralled the puck in the high slot and picked an opening with a sweet wrister for his first of the season. 5–4 and lockdown mode.
Except for Grotbeck, who said “No, we need another goal,” with a sweet cut in around the defenseman and spreadeagled goalie to make it 6–4 Spiders.
Now it was the Spiders turn to fend off the dreaded 2-goal lead. With exactly 2 minutes left and a man advantage, the Hawks drew a tripping penalty with fierce net presence and aggressive stick play from the Spider netminder. Pappone said, “you guys got this,” and headed to the box for Bill. Which is exactly the strategy that was needed to avoid icing and close out the game as the Hawks couldn’t set up in the zone, as the Spiders chanted “blue line blue line blue line” and counted down the waning seconds to victory.
Final score: 6–4
That’s the first Spider win since the second week of the season, Nov. 3, where the Spiders went 0–3–1–1 since then. Improving to an even 3–3–1–1 and 8 points, the Spiders still find themselves in sixth place, looking up at a two-way tie for the fourth and final C3 West playoff spot, held by the Blade Runners and Ice Hawks.
Following the newly instituted AHA league-wide holiday week break, with the Spiders/Ice Hawks being the last C3 game of the decade, the Spiders open the 2020 portion of the schedule by starting over against the division, vs. the Flying Hellfish, in two weeks on Sunday, Jan. 5. The Spiders played the Flying Hellfish opening week, winning 4–1. The Hellfish have decidedly not flown since, going 1–7, with their only victory coming two weeks ago against the Ice Hawks.
Puck drop is Sunday, Jan. 5, 9:30 at Tria.
For details, see the box score and game summary.