VICTORY! Spiders come from behind to win 4–2 over Troopers
Feb. 22, 2020
Win ends five-game losing streak, and sparks glimmer of playoff hopes.
The early Saturday evening crowd of at least 25 filed in to Richfield arena to celebrate the end of Hockey Day/Week/Weekend In/Across/Around America weren’t there to watch the Minnesota Magicians NAHL junior team take on the Kenai River Brown Bears on Rink 1 (final score: 5–2 Magicians!). Instead, they filled the Rink 2 bleachers and got to see the AHA senior team Spiders’ first win in seven weeks.
And Dan, who has gotten accustomed to porous defense in his other sub games this season, got a workout early as the fourth-place Troopers peppered the net in the first period, outshooting the Spiders 14 to 11, and converting on a high slot knuckle baller that found the top corner, that came right after the game’s only power play, drawn on a phantom hook by Dave Sommerness in his first Spiders game in over a month.
The second period still had the Troopers dominating in the shots department, but it was the Spiders who scored first, on a play where D-man Pieter VanZyl wisely ignored the bench pleas to dump the puck and instead shot on net from the high slot just over the blueline and made it a tie game, assist to Brad Sutton. The Spiders attempted to batten down the hatches and reduce the leaky turnovers, but with just under a minute to go in the second period, the Troopers converted on a loose puck scramble in front of the net, and reclaimed the lead.
But on the next shift, the puck had grown eyes, as John Andres sent a puck from the left point straight through a tangle of sticks and skates to beat the Troopers’ goalie and tie up the game again, with 35 seconds to go in the period. Assists to Johnson and Freed.
In the third, the Spiders got a little help from the Troopers, who channeled their best Stormtrooper imitation, as Dave Schuster fired from Schuster’s Office™ trying to connect with a Jason Freed on the back doorstep. Instead, the puck was intercepted in front of the crease by the Trooper’s defenseman, who backhanded his clearing attempt straight into his own net, and saw his life flash before his eyes as every experienced defenseman in every league has done. Spiders 3–2.
Halfway through the third, Grotbeck added some insurance, assists to VanZyl and Berman, giving the Spiders the dreaded two-goal lead, to defend for nine and half minutes. The Troopers actually called an early time out after the goal to regroup. And though the Spiders generously gave the Troopers opportunities thanks to a nasty habit of blueline turnovers, Dan was ready for everything.
At 1:40 remaining, the Troopers pulled their netminder, and the Spiders iced the puck at least 37 times, much to the refs’ ire of having to chase it down and conduct yet another faceoff. With 18 seconds to go, Mike Johnson was sprung to try to corral another ENG (or icing) attempt, but the puck fluttered to the corner, and time ran out on the Troopers speedster #21 R. Padua last-ditch run toward the offensive zone.
Final score: 4–2.
The five-game losing streak that started Jan. 12 vs. the Wildcats comes to an end as the Spiders get the fifth win of the season. And thanks to AHA math, five wins and two loser points is all it’s taking so far to stay in the playoff race. While the Wildcats have a game in hand, the Spiders are in a tie with the 12 points for fifth place, one out of the fourth and final playoff spot (held by the Troopers).
The Wildcats don’t play their next game until Tuesday night, coming off a 4–2 loss last Thursday to the second-place Spartans (11–3–0–1), who the Spiders next take on.
The Spiders/Spartans previous game went the Spartans’ way, with an assist by the striped crew, 3–2 back in December.
It’s a quick turnaround, Tuesday, at an arena the Spiders have never skated at, Northeast (1306 Central Ave. NE, Mpls). Beat the traffic to see if the Spiders can hold on against another playoff contender. Puck drop at 7:15 p.m.
For details, see the box score and game summary.