Saturday, December 15, 2012 saw the Manchester Flames Pee Wee Major team hit the road for a pair of road games. The first game was just a few minutes up the road, at the Ice Den for a contest with a familiar foe, the NH Avalanche Pee Wee 3 team. The teams had split the decisions in two previous meetings this season. From my visitor’s seat near center ice, I watched the game on Saturday afternoon, and I must admit that after watching 36 minutes of play, the effort felt like a win from the Flames side. However, the feeling I carried with me as I walked downstairs was one of disappointment and frustration, because what looked, better than not on the ice, resulted in a 3-2 loss, no points in the GSL Standings, and a pair of losses to the Av 3 team in league play. Really, who cares what I felt, so let’s get to the action.
1st Period: Manchester jumped out to an early 1-0 lead, scoring just 20 seconds into the game. Ashlie Killen and Sean Moore made passes that ended up on Zachary Bayer’s stick, who fired a wrist shot over the goalie’s shoulder and under the cross-bar to give the Flames the lead. The Flames would dominate possession, shots, and scoring chances through the rest of the period, although the period ended with the Flames leading 1-0.
2nd Period: The Flames would lose this period 1-0, despite out shooting the Avs 7-6 and carrying much of the play. Max LaJeunesse scored a power play goal for the Avs just 22 seconds after the Flames’ Achilles heel exposed itself, taking one of many penalties on the day. The power play goal tied the game at one apiece. For the rest of the period the Flames played well, got chances, then would take another penalty and give back momentum. After two periods the score was; Flames 1, Avalanche 1.
3rd Period: As we typically see, the third period opened up a little bit. There were three goals scored and six penalties called in the final period. For the Flames, the period progressed almost exactly opposite of how they would have liked. First, another penalty led to another power play goal for the home team. Then, Sam Hebert answered with a swift, strong rush to the front of the net, and scored the game-tying goal. Patrick Goren started the play with a quick pass to Wil Hebert, who hit his brother with the pass that sent Sam into the offensive end and the resulting goal. For the next several minutes the Flames would get some excellent scoring chances but could not convert, even while killing off a 4-on-3 shorthanded situation. Then, with the puck on their sticks, afforded both time and space, the Flames turned the puck over in their own end and quickly recovered it from the back of their own net. The goal was just a bad goal on a bad play, the type of play that rears its head in scenarios like these, when missed opportunities at the other end result in empty trips and near misses. That goal, a credit to the Avs, who capitalized on Flames miscues and penalties throughout the game, gave the home team a 3-2 lead with 3-plus minutes to play. The Flames promptly took another penalty, somewhat thwarting their own comeback attempt for 90 seconds. The Flames killed the penalty, pulled their goaltender, but could not get the tying goal.
In all, the Flames took 8 penalties to just 3 for the Avs. The Flames outshot their opponent in each of the three periods for a 23-16 advantage overall. The Flames are now 5-6-1 in GSL play, tied for 3rd place with 11 points, but have played the most games in the league (tied with Berlin who has also played 12 games) thus far. This leaves the door wide open for the teams lower in the standings to win games and garner points while the Flames have just 8 league games remaining. For example, the Avalanche 2 team has 11 points, and sits tied with the Flames in the standings, but they still have 10 games remaining.