Game on? Spiders/Wildcats matinee game still takes place, Spiders still lose
March 14, 2020
While the rest of the sporting world was on hiatus due to the coronavirus situation, the AHA realized adult hockey doesn’t qualify as a sport, and most games were held Saturday.
It’s rumored that some arenas have closed their doors, but Snoopy’s Dog House (Charles M. Schulz Highland Arena) was still open for business, at least the south rink. The North, which is where the Spiders/Wildcats was scheduled, was already closed for de-icing for the summer.
For the Spiders, 11 and a half skaters were available to dress for the game, as injuries, travel, kid conflicts, etc., continue to get in the way of hockey for the Spiders. And filling in Bill’s net again was Larry Curtis, who unlike last week, got to see the real Spiders in action Saturday.
As did a bleacher-filling collection of eight fans, despite the league’s proclamation that all tickets should be refunded. But those fans sat six feet apart for the 2:55 puck drop, the earliest game the Spiders have had since March 8, 2009, which took place at 1:30 p.m.
The Spiders will still in the midst of their afternoon nap at puck drop, as an ill-advised turnover by the defense against the back of the net led to the puck squirting out to the crease and in off a Spider skate. Wildcats 1-zip just 1:22 into the game.
The scoreboard stayed that way until 1:02 into the second period as another puck-luck goal bounced high in the air, landed just to the side of Larry’s pad and squeaked across the line. Wildcats 2-zip.
But on the ensuing shift, the Spiders finally got a glimmer of hope, as Bredael darted through the offensive zone and set up Farner, who deftly put the puck up and over the Wildcats’ goalie Eric Skare. 2–1.
Of course the Wildcats immediately answered on the game’s lone power play the next shift, to go up 3–1. After that, winger Dave Schuster had seen enough (or had a prior commitment), and headed for the exits, and the Spiders were down to just 10 skaters for the rest of the afternoon, leaving plenty of distance to sit six feet apart on the player bench.
In the third, the Wildcats added two more, including a Saturday-stroll-through-the-Highland-Park goal by Wildcat speedster #99 T. Mealhouse as he left both defensemen looking like they were wearing orange cone sweaters instead of Spider Red & White.
The Spiders squeaked one by Skare in the waning minutes of the afternoon, with Grotbeck tossing a puck toward the net and it went off Vandenberghe in the crease and in, to bring the final score to 5–2 and bring on the no-hands, gloves-on, elbow-bumping handshake line.
|Fighting Walleye –x||19||11||3||3||2||27||76||76||50|
|Shame On Ice||20||0||20||0||0||0||24||24||76|
|Fighting Piranhas –x||18||13||3||1||1||28||75||75||34|
|Les Etoiles du Nord||19||3||15||1||0||7||28||28||52|
With one game left on the schedule, the Spiders can no longer reach the .500 mark on the season, but with seven wins and three loser points, the Spiders lock in a sixth-place finish, a far sight better than last season.
The season series vs. the Wildcats ends at 2–1 in their favor. And all-time, the Wildcats continue their dominance of the Spiders, as the lifetime standings are 1–5–0–0.
The Wildcats, still with two games to go, can finish as high as third and knock either the Troopers or Blade Runners out of April hockey. That is, if there is April hockey.
Elsewhere in C3, the East and South are all set, only the dance card order is up in the air. Of note, the C3 Moose (18–1–0–0; 36 pts.), who stomped on the Spiders last season, are tied for the all-AHA Presidents Trophy with the C1 Mastodons (18–1–0–0; 36 pts.), and both have one game remaining.
Next up, if games do continue through the week despite closure of every other public facility in the state, the Spiders will face the Nordeasters to finish the 2019–20 Winter season, for the rubber match. The first two games ended in a 3–3 tie in November and a 5–1 drubbing in January.
It will be the D2/D1/C3 Spiders 300th AHA winter season game, and if it’s a win, puts the 2019–20 edition of the Spiders, at 7–9–2–1, back to the mean in the all-time standings, as over the 15 seasons, the Spiders have averaged 8.9 wins, 9.5 losses, 1.2 ties,.4 OTLs and 19.5 points in the standings.
Puck drop, if it drops, is at New Hope, Saturday, 5:30 p.m.
For details, see the box score and game summary.