Wednesday, November 26, 2008

AMHL Thursday: Saddle Up

Image courtesy of Appaloosa at Flickr.com

November 20, 2008
Valley Sports, Rink Two
Concord, MA

“Saddle up your horses. We got a trail to blaze…”
-“The Great Adventure,” Steven Curtis Chapman

The Capitals’ locker room smells like a stable. Stench rarely bothers hockey players, but this morning’s stink is so rancorous that defenseman Erik “Sunday Silence” Domingo is taken aback.

Are the 2–9–0–0 Avalanche, this morning’s opponent, playing a prank on the 9–1–0–1 Caps?

Domingo checks the shower floor for road apples but finds nothing that needs to be removed from the premises. The Caps can overcome the toxic tendrils of unknown source, but will the team—without four key players—falter against the Avalanche?

Netminder Kenny “Northern Dancer” Tarr, Forward “Big Ben” Budds, Rob “Funny Cide” Mirak, and Doug “The Black Stallion” Wight, are all out to pasture—at least this morning.

And they’re off, the Capitals trotting left to right across your imaginary racetrack/rink...

...The Avalanche lead 2–1 on goals by Mike “Giacomo” Gardner and Tim “Tim Tam” Turner, but the Capitals pull even when Tom “Champion” Barrett and Tom “Trigger” Hargrave execute a perfect give-‘n’-go, Barrett roofing a shot over Mitch “Ponyboy” Weiss.

Still in the first period, the Capitals score three more goals before Steve “Quick Draw McGraw” Cook, snaps a wrister past Stephanie, “Rags to Riches” Spunt, who was claimed off waiver wires to replace Kenny Tarr.

After one period, it’s 5–3 Capitals.

“It looks like the Bruins last night,” says Hargrave, referencing the hometown team’s first period against the visiting Buffalo Sabres.

Whoa, Nellie. The Avalanche, even without scoring stud Paul “Seldom Seen” Nelson counter with two goals, including one that ricochets off a loose saddle and then drops behind Spunt.

But Mike “Real Quiet” Hansen lopes past an Av defenseman and then beats Weiss like a dusty saddle blanket. No one-trick pony, Hansen scores again and then watches Brent “Sea Biscuit” Delehey beat Weiss high to the blocker side.

After two periods, the Caps lead, 7–4.

“What are you doing?” Spunt asks the Capitals’ lame bench jockey. “Coaching? Statistician…?”

Gatekeeping. And betting on the Caps.

The Avalanche will not quit. They again pull within two lengths on goals from Rich “the Pinto” Perkins and Cook.

But the Avs don’t have the…uh…horses and can’t catch the Caps. 8–6 is your final, equine enthusiasts.

With one game left in the regular season, the Capitals have blazed a trail to first place and—in the Great Adventure known as the AMHL Play-offs—are the odds-on favorite to win the Koffey Cup.
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