Spiders felled by falling Pines

The short-benched Spiders came up way short against the Pines, and even shorter against the Stripes Sunday night.

The Spiders had plenty of challenges coming into the second game of this shortened winter season 1. With hunting season and cross-roster conflicts galore, the Spiders were able to suit up only 10½ skaters Sunday night at Richfield. They were facing an unknown team in the Pines, who are coming off a penalty-filled 5-zip shutdown of the C3 2019–20 runners up Blade Runners (who lost to the Royals, also 5-zip, in the C3 championship last month), skating with a full — and youthful — bench. And to add to all that, an officiating crew that decided early on they were only going to see red (and orange and black).

At the end of the even-up first period, with Dave Schuster tying the game in his first skate of the season, John Andres was whistled for a mid-ice “body check” for playing the puck while being charged. The Pine went down like a Balsam Fir in November from the collision, and Andres found himself inexplicably in the penalty box. The Pines now had their permission slip signed by the refs to draw as many penalties as they wanted. A casual observer of their Blade Runners game, with a 5–2 whistle advantage, and an 8–1 penalty margin tonight, might suggest they know exactly how to play the refs at the C3 level.

After Harry Long tied the game again early in the second, the ref’s temper began to flare, and he appointed himself marshal of a sin bin parade of Spiders. Only to get rudely interrupted by a blatant high stick on Long’s face, after which the Spiders converted off the draw, Shawn Campbell netting his second of the season.

Not that the Spiders had much of a chance, beyond the PK, as the gassed red-n-white could barely complete a breakout, resurrecting the tape-to-tape turnover. With plenty of youth and energy the Pine forwards could dance around the red drill cones of the Spider defense, peppering sub goalie Larry Curtis all night, who had to stand on his head most of the game, until with 1.7 seconds to go, was given permission to finally stay down to catch his breath. The final shot tally was a lopsided 49 to 21.

Lone fan in attendance, Spider Chris O’Connor, on IR for this Winter 1 season, had seen enough familiarity to know how this movie ends, and wisely departed early in the third period.

Final score: 8–3.

2020–21 C3 West Standings (Week 2)
Pines 2 2 0 0 0 4 13 3 6
Knights 2 1 0 1 0 3 8 7 10
Arctic Wolves 2 1 0 1 0 3 8 6 6
Troopers 2 1 1 0 0 2 4 8 2
Blade Runners 2 1 1 0 0 2 7 9 14
Royals 2 1 1 0 0 2 9 6 12
Fighting Loons 2 0 1 0 1 1 8 12 6
Spiders 2 0 2 0 0 0 5 11 26

With the loss, the Spiders maintain trajectory for a repeat of the 2018–19 Dunkin’ trophy.

Next up, the Fighting Loons, whom the Spiders last faced in October for the C3 Toilet Bowl. The 7 2/3rds Spiders that day were flushed 8–6.

Lifetime against the various versions of the Loons Dynasty™, the Spiders are running a 3–6 deficit dating back to the 2013–14 season.

Fighting Loons sit just above the last-place Spiders, with an 0–1–0–1 record so far.

Puck drop is next Sunday, 7:45 p.m., at Breck.

For details, see the box score and game summary.

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