Moral victory (in 5–4 loss) to Blade Runners

Disarray from bench and goalie scramble leads to Spiders making it a close game

The Spiders … well, at least 12 of them … disrupted their afternoon naps to head to Highland for the first of three family-friendly matinees this season to kick off Hockey Day/Week/Weekend In/Across/Around America. Not among the 12 was goaltender Bill McCormick, who instead was unfortunately newly activated on the IR list and not able to play. With five minutes before puck drop, captain Litton was on the phone with C3 tier admin John Bader putting up the bat signal for any possible emergency goalie help. While John, who’s the C3 Moose goalie, had two games to ref and couldn’t make it, he blasted out the SOS email, and eventually located none other than the Spiders’ good friend and occasional teammate (summer league/fall tourney) Brandon Hofer, who is the goalie for the C3 Fighting Loons.

Brandon would eventually arrive late in the first period to get dressed and hit the ice in the second, so in the meantime, Chris O’Connor, who has played a bit of goalie in his day, was volunteered in his first game back from IR, to stand in the net in a desperate attempt to keep the game close. And keep it close he did. While the official scoresheet lists ZERO shots on goal for the first period, Chris channeled his inner Brodeur as he got peppered by the Blade Runners. Unable to “cover” the puck due to the rules instructed by game officials Brent Hanson and Mark Winters that a sixth player in net receives no goaltender privileges, it was only third and fourth rebound chances that the Blade Runners were able to convert, save for one slot slapper. The Spiders even interrupted the Blade Runners’ assumptions of an easy win with a goal of their own, with Berman from Schroeder and Vandenberghe late in the first.

Spiders vs. Blade Runners, Feb. 15, 2020, Highland S

Chris standing and stacking in the net.

Following the Blade Runners’ conversion at the 2:03 mark of the first period, Brandon made it to the ice, and the scorekeeper turned on the shot clock. The Spiders called a time out, but were informed that the goalie is instead allowed four pucks for warmup, thus conserving the timeout. Brandon instead got warmed up quickly with a flurry of chances for the Blade Runners, including one save by the goal post. Instead, it was the Spiders who converted on the game’s first power play, with Berman getting his second of the afternoon, from Johnson and Litton, making it a 3–2 game. And two minutes later, Pappone from Bredael improbably tied up the game at three! Of course, following the faceoff, a defensive breakdown for the Spiders allowed the Blade Runners to regain the lead, which was where the scoreboard would stay until midway through the third. Late in the second though, the Spiders got some more reinforcements, with the late arrival of a partially dressed Eric Grotbeck, who came from his even earlier in the afternoon game at SPA.

Spiders vs. Blade Runners, Feb. 15, 2020, Highland S

Brandon Hofer in the Spider net.

Following an early third-period power play drawn by Schroeder (and called by Hanson), the Blade Runners re-lit the lamp with 9 minutes on the clock to reclaim the dreaded two-goal lead. The Spiders weren’t done yet, and on the next shift, Dave Schuster back-doored a perfect Jason Freed pass from the corner, for Dave’s first goal of his shortened season, and Jason’s first assist of the season in front of his fan club.

Lead cut to one, the Spiders waited until just over a minute to go to cut Brandon’s TOI short. But despite two offensive zone faceoffs, the Spiders couldn’t find the net, and the game went into the books a 5–4 defeat.

But given all the things that went awry, the Spiders regrouped and gave the Blade Runners a run for their ... blades, and the crowd of at least 12 who filled the Highland S bleachers some afternoon entertainment.

The Spiders extend their gratitude to Brandon Hofer for filling in, and also to C3 tier admin John Bader for quickly finding someone to fill the net. And finally, the Spiders extend their well wishes to Bill Mac for a speedy recovery so he can get back in his net.

2019–20 C3 West Standings (Week 14)
Hooligans 14 13 1 0 0 26 82 22 101
Spartans 14 10 3 0 1 21 48 25 80
Troopers 13 8 3 1 1 18 45 37 54
Blade Runners 14 9 5 0 0 18 55 51 106
Wildcats 13 5 6 2 0 12 43 53 93
Nordeasters 13 4 7 2 0 10 36 57 56
Spiders 14 4 8 1 1 10 47 57 114
Ice Hawks 13 4 9 0 0 8 35 60 74
Flying Hellfish 14 1 13 0 0 2 32 61 74

It’s the Spiders’ fifth loss in a row, stagnantly sitting in the tie for sixth place for the entire decade, at 4–8–1–1 and 10 points, and a tragic number at 2 games with six left on the season. The Blade Runners improve to 9–5, and still sit in the fourth and final playoff spot.

The season series ends at 0–1–0–1 for the Spiders, with the previous game ending (quickly) in OT back in December. The lifetime record against the Blade Runners drops to 2–3–1–2, dating back to the 2014–15 season.

Next up for the Spiders, it’s another early Saturday game, a 6 p.m. puck drop vs. the third-place Troopers (8–3–1–1) at Richfield. The previous game vs. the Troopers gave them one of those eight wins, 2–1, in that high-PIM, low-offense game in December.

For details, see the box score and game summary.

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