Sunday, May 18, 2008

AMHL Thursday Championship: On a Mission

Thursday May 9, 2008
Concord, MA

Avalanche sharpshooter and co-author of Business Plans that Work, Andrew “Zach” Zacharakis is presumably teaching entrepreneurial theory somewhere—who knows exactly—maybe China, maybe Chile. Teammate Bill Chioffi postulates another theory.

In the locker room before our game against the Capitals, Chioffi jokes that Zach is an assassin posing as a professor.

Regardless of Zach’s true operation, he’ll miss the championship. We’ll miss the way he plays with reckless abandon, but we’re focusing on our own mission: Win the Koffey Cup!

Our goalie, Nova Scotia native and KISS fan extraordinaire, Kenny Tarr tells us to steer clear of his puck-stopping counterpart’s glove.

Skating right to left across the Internet, we Avalanche are rolling. Losier has won the opening face-off back to me. I pass it to left wing Scott Kessler. He pushes it over the blue line. The Caps clear the puck but gift-wrap it to Tom Hargrave. The former Clarkson University player enters the zone, goes around a defenseman, and scores on Steve Scansaroli.

We’re still leading 1–0 midway through the first. A capital forward beats me to the puck in the high slot. He shoots low stick side, but Tarr kicks out his right leg, directing the puck to the near boards.

Avalanche all-purpose man and java aficionado, Mike “Mr. Coffee” DeLeo, is flying today. The mild-mannered defenseman who downs a cup of Dunkin’ Donuts divine brew before every game, is filling in for Zach at forward. DeLeo is all alone and shoots on Scans. "'Roli the Goalie" falls to his knees, trapping the puck in his midsection.

“I’d fire (DeLeo) right now.” Prime time referee and part-time color commentator Peter Bagley says to us on the Avalanche bench.

Five minutes later, DeLeo has a shot at redemption and makes the most of it.

When DeLeo scores his second goal to give us a 3–0 lead, Chioffi says to me, “I believe that’s another blocker-side goal.”

We’re sticking to the scouting report and focusing on the mission, cashing in on our chances and playing solid in all zones. And when the Caps get a rare scoring opportunity, Kenny takes care of business.

Now in the second period, the puck is loose in our zone. Tarr beats Ben “Ear” Budds, the kangaroo quick Cap forward, to it, though.

Back the other way—skating right to left now across your Internet Explorer—we lose the puck in the offensive zone. The Caps attempt to clear it past the right point, where I’m cemented. I keep it in the zone once…twice…the puck is in the right corner. The diminutive Scott Harvey settles the puck and then centers a big-time pass to DeLeo. Bing, bang, boom.

“Mikey,” Bagley says, “That’s a hat trick you know, baby. (Go back) on D!

No need. Doug Wight, Scott Keith, Chioffi and I are all set.

Cap power forward and former Bowdoin College defenseman “Polar” Paul Nelson charges over the blue line. Between the face-off circles, the tall and talented forward winds up and then blasts the puck into my thigh pad. A blocked shot is as good as a goal for me.

But the Caps keep coming. Mirak scores with 5:30 left in the second stanza. Down 4–1, Bagley is hopeful Mirak and his minions can mount a comeback.

“It’s just the beginning,” Bags says as he records the goal. “I tell ya.”

“Beginning of the end,” an anonymous Avalanche corrects the affable arbiter.

In the third, period, the mission is all but complete. We’re up 6–1, and DeLeo breaks free with the puck. He ignores the scouting report and shoots glove side. The puck hits the top of Scansaroli’s catching mitt and then falls behind the forlorn netminder.

The Caps counter with a late goal, but 7–2 is as close as they’ll get.

Somewhere on one of the seven continents, Zach—his own mission perhaps accomplished—may be wondering if we’ve won without him.



Front row, left to right: Scott Kessler, Scott Harvey, Kenny Tarr, Mike DeLeo, Dave Losier

Middle Row: KC (Koffey Cup)

Back Row, left to right: Scott Keith, Jimmy Dwyer, Chad Mikkelson, Doug Wight, Bill Chioffi, Tom Hargrave

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