Thursday, April 26, 2007

AMHL Tuesday Championship: Made in Canada

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

“They’re all over us,” Kenny “KISS Fan” Tarr says of the Penguins as his Flyers rest after the first period. Kenny’s Gene Simmons mask is pushed back on his head as his counterpart and fellow Canadian, Claude Corbeil—who sports a mask emblazoned with the maple leaf—waits for the second period to commence.

The two goalies—Kenny from Nova Scotia and Claude from Labrador—aren’t the only Canadians featured in the championship game.

Peterborough Pete” Kokas, who scored in the opening minute against Tarr, is ready to continue the battle against the Flyers; Steve “Mr. Potato” Nicolle, a Prince Edward Island native, hopes his Flyers can break the 1–1 tie as fans across Canada, many of whom are on holiday to listen to the game on streaming audio, settle in for the second stanza.

The Penguins, skating left to right across your podcast, get the first break when a potential Flyer goal is disallowed. Then the Black and Orange are whistled for a minor infraction.

“Another bad call,” Richard, “the Yak” Rawal bellows as he watches a fellow Flyer seat himself in the sin bin. “The Yak” whacks his stick blade against Plexiglas shielding on-ice players from the pen-in-hand reporter standing in the ice-level press box.

“How you doin’?” he asks the scribe.

“Good. Get your head in the game!”

If Rawal is the chattiest cat in the league, Kokas is the most focused—at least this morning.

Kokas, who can’t see his name in print often enough, bolts in on Tarr. The lad from Lower Sackville (just outside Halifax) stacks his pads to his right; the puck bounces over the prone goaltender, though, and falls behind the goal line.

2–1 Pens with 8:48 left in the period.

Penguin fan favorite Bill Chioffi becomes entangled with Flyers’ forward Mike “the Eagle” Chase as the two skate up ice, jockeying for position. Chase falls to the ice like a sack of PEI’s finest New Potatoes (Nicolle’s favourite), prompting the referee to direct Chioffi to the home team’s penalty box.

“There it is,” Chioffi says pointing to the object of every AMHLer’s affection: the Koffey Cup, designed and crafted by one fine Canadian: AMHL Commissioner, Mitch “Edel” Weiss, who watches the action from behind the Plexiglas and to Tarr’s right.

At the other end or the rink, Marshal McLean zips a pass to Steve Scansaroli, who’s lurking along the goal line near the corner that connects the far boards to the back boards. “Scans” strides toward the net and then tucks the puck behind Corbeil with 10.8 seconds left in the period.

It’s a power play goal to tie the game, 2–2.

In the third period, the two puckstoppers are at peak performance. Along the near boards in the Pens’ offensive zone, Salvo drops a pass to Kokas—looking for the hat-trick—who dipsy-doodles past a defender; Pete snaps a shot headed for just inside the post—until Kenny kicks out his right leg to make a toe save.

Back the other way, with 1:50 left in regulation, Corbeil sprawls to thwart the Flyers’ attack.

The Flyers call time out, and the clock up and behind Claude reads :24. The Flyers lose the draw in the offensive zone, and then the Penguins attack. Tarr stops Kokas again, but now Salvo has the puck in the high slot, hoping to score on a buzzer-beater. Scansaroli drops the AMHL’s all-time leading scorer to the ice.

Yet another penalty for the Flyers.

The Orange and Black, skating three against four (per the AMHL’s rules for power play situations in Overtime), kill the penalty. Tarr and Nicolle still have a shot at winning the cup for their provinces.

“I got orange,” declares the referee after Flyers’ forward Steve Basile guides a Penguin into the near boards separating the ice from the Visitors’ bench.

With Basile in the box and only a 1:30 left on the clock, the Penguins control the play. Precious seconds pass, and the Flyers hold. Still, Kokas waits for his shot.

Standing, his stick on the ice, to Tarr’s left, “Peterborough Pete” tips the puck past Kenny. Air rushes from the lungs of the deflated fans in Nova Scotia and PEI while in Labrador and Ontario, Penguins’ followers are pumped!

Kokas has netted a hat-trick but, as you may have learned, he’s not a real Canadian. Corbeil, on the other hand, is a bona fide Canuck (and I mean that in the most affectionate way); he has a “Made in Canada” tattoo to prove it.
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