Saturday night the Flames made a visit to Ristuccia Memorial Arena in Wilmington, MA for a game vs. the Shamrocks. In my mind this game reminded me a little bit of a young driver trying to remember how to drive a standard; the clutch pops early, the car takes a while to get moving, then after a while the gears are handled properly and the car progresses smoothly. That’s kind of how the Flames started the first two periods this evening. In the first period, the Flames allowed five shots and hordes of scoring chances before they managed a single shot and started to play even hockey. In the second period, the Flames allowed five more unanswered shots, including the game winning goal, before taking their play to a competitive level. So, lets recap this thing, shall we?
1st period: First, let me say that the Shamrocks had a couple of players that were very big, and quite intimidating. After number 5 dropped his kids off at the sitter’s and arrived at the rink, he let a few slap shots rip, and the sound of the puck hitting the glass was enough to send people scrambling for cover. Anyways, the Shamrocks started with 5 straight shots, a ton of scoring chances, and possessed the puck almost entirely for about four minutes. After taking a couple of penalties, the home team allowed the Flames to get things going a bit, and the rest of the period was much different. Ultimately the Flames ended up tied at 7 shots apiece after a period. The Shamrocks did lead 1-0 after scoring on a beautiful pass play, setting up a one-time redirection for the goal. The Flames did take just one penalty in the 1st period, with 23 seconds left. This would haunt them in the next period.
2nd period: Again, BANG! The Shamrocks started the period, and the Flames were slow to get going. Before they knew what hit them, they allowed five more unanswered shots, and allowed a power play, the ultimate game winner. The goal was an innocent play that turned into an offensive undressing for the Shamrocks and Flames goaltender, Keenan Alnahas couldn’t overcome the breakdown in front of him. So, with 29 minutes and 11 seconds left in the game (a lot of time), the Flames trailed 2-0. Less than three minutes later, Zach Bayer took the puck from his own end, skated up the left-wing boards, and ripped a wrist shot as he turned towards the net at the face off circle. The shot beat the Shamrock goalie high to the glove side and just snuck in under the crossbar and inside the far post. 2-1, the Flames trailed with more than 26 minutes to play. There were matching penalties called with 3:38 to play, when it appeared the Flames were certain to be going on a power play. After two periods, the Flames trailed 2-1, and were only being outshot 16-14, after horrendous starts in both periods.
3rd period: I don’t know if the Flames tired or if the bigger team wore down the smaller team, but the Shamrocks had the better chances, more shots, and even more opportunities for wide open looks at the net that resulted in errant shots. One play to note was an outstanding save that Alnahas made with his left pad while the Flames were on a power play. The Flames defense just backed off, or parted, or I’m not sure what, and a Shamrock forward walked in for what he thought was a sure goal, until the left pad denied him. The Flames were desperate and down a goal, but couldn’t manage much offense. Passes weren’t made, moves were duplicated, and the Shamrocks played the Flames to the tendencies they had shown in the first two periods, holding the visitors to just 5 shots in 15 minutes. Alnahas was pulled with a minute to play but the score remained 2-1 at the final horn. The contest was competitive and both teams showed they have talents and skills worth respecting.
On tap: The Flames follow up their late game tonight with a trip to the Great White North tomorrow morning when they play @ Berlin, NH at 11:30am.