Wolves eat Spiders, spit them out, swallow hope

On a miserable, cold, wet, and icy Tuesday night at hallowed Braemar Arena the Spiders’ bad-boy reputation preceded them onto the ice, as duly noted by members of the Arctic Wolves to former Wolfpack member Woods as they cordially talked foil strategy during the warm-up peewee game between Eden Prairie and Minnetonka.

The crowd was boisterous, but dissipated by puck drop, correctly figuring they had already seen the best hockey they were gonna see that night.

The scorekeeper kept up the boisterousness, however, with a deafening ’80s and ’90s soundtrack that not only motivated the players, but prevented any strategy whatsoever to be communicated on the bench. To compensate, in the first period the Wolves and Spiders played ten minutes of back and forth, “here, you have the puck” hockey until the Wolves finally said, “Okay, we’ll take it, thanks for the breakaway” and scored.

0–1, bad guys.

The period turned during another 14 mins of giveaway, hopeless, never-to-be-remembered hockey, finally broken up by a hope shot from the corner by Schroeder. Assist to the skate of the hopeful Wolves goalie.

1–1, all comers.

Loud music and adult squirt hockey returned, back to back and forth until late in the second when a Tim Johnson seeing-eye missile found a hole under the paw of the Wolves goalie.

2–1, good guys.

Things got interesting in a bad way for the Spiders in the third, however. The race to the, uh, bottom in penalty minutes resumed as the Spiders marched, or tried anyway, to the sin bin. The Wolves made mincemeat of the Spiders’ well deserved reputation as they scored in quick succession, once with the ref’s arm still raised, eliminating all suspense of the outcome, and again four seconds into the next Spider penalty kill just over a minute later.

2–2, brother and sister.

2–3, rabid dogs.

Knowing that in hockey a two-goal lead is harder to keep than a one-goal lead, the Spiders gave the Wolves another breakaway and they fell for the ruse, scoring their fourth goal.

2–4, werewolf spawn.

The Spiders went to work on their plan, pressing hard, not giving up, rocking out during puck stoppages, and the progressive strategy of puck barrel politics bore fruit as the third member of the left-wing coalition Farner scored during a net front blitz just 1:20 later.

3–4, the undomesticated ancestors of my grandma’s inbred poodle.

The tide was turning, rising against the canine defenses, and so was the temperature. Shoot, shoot, shoot was the refrain from the bench and the Spiders gave a great effort, even raising the ire and neck hair of the Wolves goalie, frothing at the mouth as Krough peppered him with love taps from a shaven blade. One Wolf, one Spider to the box(es?).

With a minute and a half left, the gallant sub goalie Benson settled on the Spider bench for a well deserved front-row seat to the last push. Despite winning the face offs, a hand on the puck penalty in the crease and a massive white wolf pileup with one injury on highway 169 and oh, so many “it’s right there” chances, the Spiders couldn’t prevail, any remaining playoff hopes sliding across the glistening streets into the ice-choked gutters, on down to the Mississippi River.

Standings watch...

2022–23 C3 West Standings (Week 17)
Saints–x 17 14 1 2 0 30 89 44 88
Fighting Walleye Blue–x 17 11 3 3 0 25 74 38 50
Les Etoiles du Nord 17 9 6 1 1 20 73 52 72
Nordeasters 17 8 6 3 0 19 63 56 83
Minnesota Mallards 17 9 8 0 0 18 69 57 74
Spiders 17 9 8 0 0 18 59 61 155
Arctic Wolves 17 7 6 3 1 18 42 61 72
Fighting Loons 17 5 8 2 2 14 55 61 80
Spartans D1 17 3 10 4 0 10 46 85 52
Blade Runners 17 1 15 0 1 3 40 95 96
  • y = clinched division
  • x = clinched playoff berth

... if you must.

Next up...

Another almost two-week bye until facing off against the Fighting Walleye Blue, who have clinched at least a playoff spot, at 25 points. But they are the lone team above the post-season cutoff line where the Spiders have a potential tiebreaker on the line, given the Spiders’ hoilday week victory in December.

Puck drop on Friday, March 10, at 9:30 p.m. at Richfield.

For details, see the box score and game summary.

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