Sunday, March 09, 2008

AMHL Rewind: Best of Three

Steve Scansaroli and Kenny “KISS Fan” Tarr are peas in a pod. Both are goalies. Both work from home. They live close to each other, so they carpool to the rink. And this past week, they’ve played against each other three times.

Last Saturday night, in the annual Jimmy Dwyer Birthday Skate, Scans and Kenny played three thirty-minute periods. They played well—Kenny perhaps a little stronger in nets for the first two periods—but each was eventually humbled because this reporter scored breakaway goals on each.

By Thursday morning, Scans—filling in for Mike Chase in the Panthers’ crease—and Kenny had recovered. Kenny’s Avalanche overwhelmed the Panthers in the third period and won 8–3.

But let’s rewind this week to Tuesday morning, when Scans’s Penguins faced Kenny’s Blues. This game was the best of the three.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008
Rink Two

When Mike Chase—not in action for the Blues because his first radiation treatment to thwart melanoma is this afternoon—enters Valley Sports Arena a few minutes into the game; he has no idea that history is in the making.

The Blues, skating left to right across your streaming imagination, and Penguins cannot put a single puck past either goaltender. At the first intermission, players from both teams skate across the rink to the penalty box. Chase, in his sweat suit and BC Eagles baseball style cap, stands strong and greets his concerned but playful well-wishers from his vantage point in the sin bin. (Mike is no stranger to these parts: 76 career penalty minutes).

Scansaroli and Tarr take their places for the second stanza. The sounds of hockey permeate the air: titanium blades digging into ice, composite sticks whacking vulcanized rubber, the oohs and aahs as Scans and Kenny stop shot after shot.

In the third period, neither team has scored when the Blues’ “Peterborough Pete” Kokas, stands in front of Scans, waiting for a pass from the corner. Kokas corrals the puck, and then fakes a shot. Scans drops into a butterfly. Kokas fires—and you can imagine NESN announcer Jack Edwards say, “Kick save by Scans!”

“I thought for sure he was scoring,” Scans will write via e-mail the next day. He’ll also say he had been struggling with new leg pads. He was strapping them too tightly.

But now he feels “comfy” with them loose.

In OT, the two friends are still courting a shutout.

Scans squares to the Blues’ Mike DeLeo, who charges in on a breakaway bid. DeLeo snaps a shot high glove side. Scans stretches his left hand to snare the would-be game-winning goal.

The Penguins on the bench go wild!

Later in OT, the Pens’ game-breaker, Kevin MacDonald, rushes in on Tarr.

Tarr will describe the action via e-mail on Wednesday morning. “Scans had just made yet another HUGE save to keep the game from ending and the puck ended up on the Pens blue line on Kevin MacDonald's stick with a head of steam already. He came flying in dead center. I came WAY out to challenge and started backing up as fast as I could go. He deeked around me and I sprawled my legs and slid backwards just enough to catch the puck with the bottom of the pad. As if that wasn't enough, the (expletive deleted) takes the rebound, circles around for more! I make that save high right shoulder and smother the rebound for the whistle. (Fifty) seconds later, history was made.”

The first scoreless tie in the AMHL’s ten-year history.

“I think that just maybe the presence of Mike Chase looking so good and in such great spirits may have had a little something to do with this,” says Tarr.
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