The Pee Wee Major Flames played host to Hanover on Saturday morning for an important GSL game. After getting two points in Hanover three weeks ago, the Flames were primed to sweep the season series and step even closer to a playoff berth. That was not how it turned out though. The Flames lost a tough game to watch, 2-1. It was tough to watch because the Flames appeared to be the better team, had the better chances, but just handed the puck over to Hanover time after time. In my notes on today’s game, I wrote two things down multiple times, “pass the puck” and “too cute”. As the game wore on I wrote these things with more fervor and more exclamation points. Now, I may not have had the best morning myself, which of course frames the view that I reference here, regardless, I know when a play could and should be made. It is certainly worth noting that the Flames have been playing good hockey as of late, good team hockey at times, even. Today was a chance to solidify a playoff spot in a very tough Tier II Division, and the Flames ‘toe dragged’ the outcome, giving it away to Hanover.
1st Period: After one period there was no score. Both teams were solid, allowing virtually nothing in their own defensive ends. The Flames were the first to buckle a little bit, when they took back to back penalties for careless stick work. The Flames killed the penalties, and one might say they would have killed them easily, were it not for getting ‘too cute’ with the puck. On consecutive clearing attempts, Flames players tried to toe drag the puck, or otherwise stick handle from their own end when a simple clear would have been the choice best served. Both times the puck was kept in by Hanover and shots on goal were the result.
2nd Period: Individual play carried into the second period, and it wasn’t long before it came back to haunt the Flames. Less than three minutes into the period, the Flames had a 3-on-2 break, and the center man had the puck with space. On his wing, his line mate was open and 50 feet ahead of him. No pass was made. The wing paused and waited, and then waited some more while the center man weaved through neutral ice. By the time the puck entered the zone, without a pass, both wings were offside. Innocent enough, right? Wrong. The resulting faceoff was won cleanly by Hanover, and they skated in on a clear breakaway, scored the goal and took a 1-0 lead. Fortunately, the Flames answered shortly thereafter on a beautiful centering pass from Zachary Bayer to Ryan Douthart who one-timed the pass from the slot, between the circles, and beating the goaltender to tie the game at 1 apiece. The period would end in a 1-1 tie, leaving just 12 minutes to decide the outcome.
3rd Period: The Flames came out and played, what I thought was their best period of the game in the final stanza. They dominated with shots on goal, puck possession, and had many scoring chances. Hanover did get some tremendous help from their goaltender. Hanover got help from the post of the goal, where one shot that beat the goaltender, ended up hitting and staying out of the net. Hanover got help from their defense who cleared a couple of sure goals off of rebounds. Finally, Hanover got help from the Flames themselves, who continued to stickhandle in tight spots when a pass or a dump in would have secured possession of the puck and possibly, additional chances to score. Then, with 2:12 to play, the Flames got cute in the offensive end, turned the puck over, and gave up the go ahead goal at the other end of the ice. The Flames pulled their goaltender with 1:07 left to play and did generate some great chances to tie the game, but Hanover and their goalie held the fort, and got the win.