The Flames were in Berlin, NH Sunday morning for a Granite State game with the Berlin Sabers. They definitely showed the effects of playing an intense game just 16 hours prior, some 165 miles away. Unfortunately for the host Sabers, the effects carried over by the visiting Flames were those of intensity and team play, the latter of which was lacking on Saturday evening. The Flames jumped out to a 2-0 lead, increased the lead to 5-0, and won going away. The Flames earned two much needed points in the Granite State Standings with an impressive 5-1, road victory.
1st period: The Flames played well from the start. They held an impressive 11-2 advantage in shots, and it even seemed more one-sided than that. Wil Hebert was the first of five different Flames to score a goal after being set up by his older brother, Sam Hebert. Then, with just 16 seconds left in the period the Flames struck again, and this time it was all about passing. Ashlie Killen made a D-to-D pass over to Patrick Goren who let a shot go from the left point. The puck was deflected by Sean Moore en route to the net, and the carom went right to Jackson Puzzo who converted the chance, giving the Flames a 2-0 lead after one period. Superstitiously, I was knocking on the lumber in the Notre Dame Arena bleachers as a comment was made noting that the Flames had played a penalty-free period; to no avail.
2nd period: The Flames would get called for two penalties each in the 2nd and 3rd periods, still a vast improvement over recent weeks. Anyways, back to the action. The Flames scored their third goal when multiple feed attempts to Ryan Douthart who was parked in the slot, led to a rebound goal scored by Zach Bayer. Again, it was team hockey, and it paid off. Bayer, being fed passes down low by Goren and Killen, had made a pass or two to Douthart, who got away a couple of good shots that were turned away, the last of which was a rebound pounced on by Bayer to get the goal. Again, Killen was part of the pass play, but only two assists are awarded in hockey, and they went to Douthart and Goren. 3-0 Flames. Minutes later, Sam Hebert reached high into the air and knocked down a fluttering puck with his glove hand, the puck hit the ice in front of him and he was off to the races. Sam skated in nearly alone and buried a short-handed goal giving the Flames a 4-0 lead. 41 seconds later, Brendan “Thunderstick” Courtney ripped a slap shot just inside the far post for an apparent goal. The goal was waved off as Sean Moore had redirected the shot with an apparent high stick. Two minutes later the Flames got goal number five on another unselfish hockey play. Killen, Goren, and Bayer, and Sam Hebert were dominating puck possession and feeding Kyle O’Flaherty around the slot area in an attempt to get him his first goal of the season. They did their job and Kyle scored a great goal, but I will get to that in a minute. First, I neglected to mention in Saturday’s summary something I noticed and should have recorded, but forgot as the hour approached midnight at the end of a long day. Here it is, and I am sure Kyle was not alone in this but he stood out to me on Saturday, and again on Sunday. Shift after shift O’Flaherty challenged bigger, stronger, opposing forwards, by skating hard and shadowing these players who were looking to receive breakout passes. In the moments that the Flames played their best on Saturday night, Kyle was pressing the forwards, challenging them to get free just to receive a pass, and his disruption led to turnovers and Flame offensive chances. He was at it again on Sunday and he got the ultimate hard working hockey reward, a nice goal. Ok, so the goal, Ashlie Killen wound up for a big shot, which faked out everyone in the building when the puck trickled some four feet off of her stick, right to Zach Bayer. Bayer fed a pass to the slot towards O’Flaherty but he was being stick-checked or held and the puck ended up on Patrick Goren’s stick at the right point. Goren let a low shot go along the ice, O’Flaherty in a half spin, got the toe of his stick blade on the puck and guided it perfectly through the goaltender’s five-hole for his first goal. The score was 5-0 in a runaway game but the celebration on the ice, by teammates, who were playing like teammates, was nice to see. The period would end with the Flames leading 5-0 and owning a 29-5 edge in shots on goal.
3rd period: The game’s final 12 minutes saw Berlin get a hard working goal of their own, a credit to continuing to work hard and not give up, as it should be. The Flames played defensemen on offense and vice-versa. They would not score any goals but these new lines showed their teammates, the coaching staff, and the nearly sold out (not really), visiting crowd that they can pass the puck. After all was said and done the Flames won 5-1, garnered 35 shots on goal, and got 9 saves on 10 shots against from Keenan Alnahas and Anders Lindberg. It was a solid, intense, team effort following a late game the night before, and the result showed that.
On tap: Saturday the Flames host the Bulldogs (our newest rival) in the world famous West Side Arena at 2:30pm. Then Sunday it’s another home game at 3:00pm vs. Keene. Have a great week!