Spiders off the schneid!

Spiders hold on to beat Fighting Loons 5–4 at B-r-r-r-eck Sunday night.

The battle of the last two winless C3 West teams was scheduled for 7:45 p.m. Sunday night at the frostbitten confines of Breck Anderson Arena. The Fighting Loons, whom the Spiders last faced — and lost to — in the Toilet Bowl tourney last month, came into tonight 0–1–0–1, while Spiders have lost two in a row to start the shortened Winter Season 1.

Before the game, the Vegas betting line had the Spiders maintaining the streak, but Eric Grotbeck, playing in his second game of the day, predicted good things for the Spiders.

With a minimum full bench of 13 skaters suited up, in masks per the Loons request, it was the Spiders that set the tone early, with Todd Krough scoring midway through the first, assist to Pieter VanZyl. A minute later, Grotbeck snuck the puck past the Loons’ goalie, much to the surprise of everyone on the ice except the goalie, to put the Spiders up by 2, assist to Kevin Ronneberg, before the customary Spider Penalty Parade began. The Loons converted on two consecutive power plays to tie the game back up and elicit “here we go again” chants from the Spider bench. Sure enough, the Loons took the lead midway through the second. But a rare non-Spider penalty gave the Spiders a bit of momentum, and on the following shift after the power play, Grotbeck from Ronneberg cashed in again to re-tie the game.

During intermission, Pappone made the mistake of conjuring Dr. Rob’s Third Period Prediction Curse, which took less than a minute to come to fruition, with the Loons scoring after yet another breakaway and third rebound chance to re-establish the lead.

But the Spiders weren’t done yet. Mike Schroeder, also playing in his second game of the evening, converted with assist by Shawn Campbell, to knot the game at 4 apiece with 14 minutes to go. And a minute later, well-known AHA sharpshooter, D-man Jeremy Litton, dangled his way all the way through five Loons, and deked the goalie out of his pads, much to the shock of the zero fans in attendance. In reality, the B-rrrreck resident dog didn’t even lift his head, as the Spiders had no idea the puck was in the net. A typically ill-advised defensive zone clear by Litton from behind his blueline, trying to draw the too many men off the line change by the Loons, somehow rolled its way and beat the Loon netminder. Eventually realizing he was the last to touch the puck, Litton meekly raised his hand to claim the point, assist to Spider sub netminder Larry Curtis.

Now the Spiders were faced with an unfamiliar situation: defending a lead, for 13 minutes. Riding the momentum, the Spiders continued to control play in the offensive zone, including a series of rapid-fire faceoff draws for shots by Sommerness and Krough. And right along with the Spider game plan, Farner wisely got himself whistled for a penalty to give the Spiders free icing to tick down the clock.

The Loons swarmed, but Larry was ready for it all, knowing he’d need to stand on his head to get his first non-forfeit Spider win of the fall. With just over a minute to go, and an offensive zone faceoff, the Loons called timeout to pull their netminder. After a faceoff scramble, a blocked shot off Litton’s helmet cage sent the puck deflecting toward the slot, eventually corralled by the Spiders and shuttled into the Loon zone, where the Spiders pressed and killed off the remaining seconds, to skate a way with a 5–4 victory!

2020–21 C3 West Standings (Week 3)
Pines 3 3 0 0 0 6 17 4 8
Arctic Wolves 3 2 0 1 0 5 11 7 10
Knights 3 1 0 2 0 4 14 13 12
Royals 3 1 1 1 0 3 15 12 18
Troopers 3 1 2 0 0 2 5 12 6
Blade Runners 3 1 2 0 0 2 8 12 22
Spiders 3 1 2 0 0 2 10 15 32
Fighting Loons 3 0 2 0 1 1 12 17 8

The win pulls the Spiders out of the C3 West cellar, and into a tie for 6th place with the Blade Runners.

Lifetime against the various versions of the Loons Dynasty™, the Spiders slightly improve to a 4–6 deficit dating back to the 2013–14 season.

Next up, if there is actually AHA hockey next week, which at this rate seems a bit less likely, the Spiders take on the second-place Arctic Wolves (2–0–1–0), another team the Spiders last faced a month ago in the 2019–20 season-ending tourney. The not-as-short-benched Spiders still came up short, losing 4–1 that night.

Prior to that, the Spiders were last in the same division as the Arctic Wolves in 2018–19, the Spiders’ 0-fer season, where of course the Spiders lost...

Lifetime against the Arctic Wolves, the series starting in 2015–16, the Wolves have dominated the Spiders 7–1.

Puck may drop, Sunday, Nov. 22, 9 p.m. at New Hope S.

For details, see the box score and game summary.

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