Wednesday, January 03, 2007

AMHL Wednesday: Do You Believe in...

Dr. Greg Catalano, featured in Chapter 15 of AMHL Glory, has come out of retirement and signed a two-way contract with the Wednesday AMHL Rangers. Catalano will hold a press conference (whether he likes it or not) in the next week or so to disclose full details of his decision to return to AMHL ice.

However, I’m comfortable in speculating that the back problems prompting his retirement three and a half years ago have miraculously vanished. But before we get too carried away with the new and improved back and the new season in this New Year, let’s take a look back at the miracle of the holiday season and the wonder of last season’s Wednesday playoffs.

Four weeks ago, just before the Canadiens and Sabres faced off in the first round, Canadien forward “Grinder” Greg Longtine commented on the likelihood that his underachieving Habs would defeat the heavily-favored Sabres. “Well,” he said, “I guess if the Virgin Mary gave birth…”

The Canadiens, as AMHL fanatics from far and wide know, pulled off the blessed upset, a joyous moment for goalie Kenny “Kiss Fan” Tarr because he defeated his arch-rival and fellow Canadian, goalie Claude Corbeil. But could les Habitants steal, a la the Grinch, a victory from the sensational and expectant Cup contenders, the Sharks?

The Shark attack, led by Allen Canning, Rob Mirak, and Richard Ahern—the team’s top three scorers would combine for ninety-nine points by season’s end—thought perhaps the Canadiens would belly flop quicker than you can say "Merry Christmas!"

'Twas midway through the second period, and the Canadiens led 2–1, both goals coming from Scott “rhymes with yellin’”Gelin. But then Rich Ahern notched his second goal of the game—roofing a wrist shot over Tarr’s shoulder—to tie the game.

Twenty seconds into the final frame, Paul Connors placed a perfect shot over netminder Heather Wright to give the Canadiens a 3–2 lead, and the red clad underdogs wondered if their precarious lead would hold up.

Not content with the one-goal advantage, the Canadiens kept pressing, and Gelin wondered if Christmas would come early for the Canadiens? Would he find a hat trick under the tree?

“Maybe Santa will bring Scott Gelin new pants,” the AMHL photographer said of the bulky behemoth with the tail pad bursting through the backside of his hockey pants. “He’s a man now, and those look like boy pants.”

With 5:15 still on the clock, the Sharks stormed Tarr’s crease, and then jumped for joy when Ahern completed the hat trick with a backhand shot—but not before Tarr had executed the first maneuver taught in Goaltending 101!: When in doubt, flail like a wounded seal to make it appear you’re making a save and “accidentally” knock the net from its moorings. (Kenny was a quick study).

No goal!

With Wright pulled in favor of a sixth attacker, the Sharks refused to surrender.

Thirty seconds left…a mad scramble in front of the Canadiens’ net…a Canadien pushed the puck was pushed toward blue line…

Do you believe in…

..Three seconds…two…

In Christmas? How about Santa Claus? Miracles?


Correction: Mention of Scott Gelin's penalty in the second period was removed because Gelin did not incur one. Sorry.
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