Thursday, August 16, 2007

AMHL Tuesday: Wild West

Concord, MA
August 14, 2007

“There’s a problem,” Blues’ dynamo Kevin “Li’l Joe” MacDonald jokes to Flyers’ forward Scott “Slim” Gelin, “with your paperwork.”

MacDonald can’t persuade Gelin to excuse himself from the Tuesday championship game, but the little guy wearing the full-length chaps traps the fit and trim Gelin in Flyer territory, stripping him of the puck. But MacDonald’s teammate can’t put the puck past goalie Nicole “Annie Oakley” Kuhar, and then MacDonald (nicknamed here after the youngest but most entertaining Cartwright) has trouble corralling the rebound.

The Flyers control the puck and skate back the other way, left to right across your mind’s eye. Gelin blasts a slap shot past Brian “Buffalo Bill” Monahan, who last week barricaded the net to shut out the first-place Penguins, to give the Flyers the early lead. Less than five minutes later, though, Peter “Quick Draw” Kokas evens the score.

The game has become an up-tempo, rough-and-tumble Tuesday tilt. Still in the first period and the Flyers leading 4–1, Eric “the Outlaw Josey Wales” Schoen is whistled for an undetermined infraction, but the ice marshal has returned to supervise the game while the scorekeeper/scribe wonders what to record on the score sheet.

“Make it sound tough—roughing!” Schoen says from hockey jail. O.K., two minutes for roughing it is.

The Blues don’t score on the power play but, midway through the second period, tie the game at four. Two minutes later, the score is 5–5.

This morning’s three fans, a.k.a., Erin Tullock’s posse, have already witnessed one player leaving the ice with an injury when Mitch “Hopalong” Weiss, the AMHL’s commissioner mosies into the rink to keep his eye on the combatants.

Now midway through third period, the Flyers, skating left to right, lead 8–7. But Mike “Doc Holiday” DeLeo, who’s playing the first of three AMHL championship games, leads a mad cowboy rush up the ice and then watches Jay “Wyatt Earp” Antonangeli even the score once again.

With sixteen goals scored, you’d think the goalies fell asleep between the pipes like sleepy cowpokes in front of the campfire. You’d be wrong, mister.

Both netminders have helped their teams dodge bullets: Monahan slamming the door on Gelin’s breakaway in the first period, Kuhar holding her position as DeLeo cut across the crease in the second…but can they come up big in OT?

In the three-on-three installment of what is evolving into one of the greatest games in AMHL history, Kuhar robs MacDonald. Ten seconds later—with twenty seconds left in OT—Monahan turns away Gelin.

“I have no idea where he’s going or what he’s doing,” Gelin says of Monahan as the former waits for another shot at the latter in the shootout. After DeLeo, Jim “Cowboy” Cullen, and Kokas are foiled on their shootout attemps, it’s Gelin’s turn.

“Slim” snakes in on Monahan, cuts right across the crease—and slides the puck across the goal line!

MacDonald gallops toward Kuhar, targets the top shelf and pulls the trigger—goal!

Schoen scores on nifty backhand but then Antonangeli scores for the Blues. Even Steven once again.

Then, the theme song for a TV show from the 60s echoes through the rink like a whoop and a holler across a canyon.

Rollin' Rollin' Rollin' Keep movin’, movin’, movin’, Though they're disapprovin’, Keep them doggies movin’

Richard “Rawhide” Rawal skates toward Kuhar, aiming for an open corner. He misses the target but still scores.

Now if you’ve read the AMHL ticker, you already know that the Flyers Adam “Wild Bill” Berger barely missed on his bid to tie the score, thus ending the game.

Rawal says of his game-winning goal, “…I can’t remember a prouder moment, and I’m glad I could help those new guys, you know, the ones that hadn’t won the cup previously. I feel just so good…for all of them!”

Yee-hah par'ner! Adiós, amigos.
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