Saturday, September 18, 2010

AMHL Championship Week: A Week for the Ages, Part II

(Cont’d from Part I)

Thursday August 19
Concord, MA

Twelve-year veteran Mike DeLeo, who won a Koffey Cup on Tuesday, and rookie Tyler Boudreau, who savored championship victory yesterday with DeLeo, are teammates again. They and the Panthers lead the underdog Capitals, 2–1, after one period.

Boudreau has been watching baby boomers like DeLeo bang into one another—as much as the non-check rules will allow—and crash the crease.

One wonders if the forty-somethings can maintain this rough-and-tumble pace as young guns like rookie Panthers Luke Marchand, who has scored both goals, and Peter Bagley Jr. make names for themselves.

“All even!” Bagley’s dad, referee Peter Bagley Sr. alerts the teams, now engaged in second period action, as DeLeo departs the sin bin.

Bagley Sr. watches his son set up DeLeo, who will be credited on the goal that stakes the Panthers to 3–1 lead. The old-timers then watch Junior skate up ice, over the Capitals’ blueline, execute a stellar outside-inside move on the d-man, and then shoot from the high slot. Clang! Off the crossbar.

With a two-goal cushion and Boudreau on top of his game, DeLeo is confident he will again hold high that cherished chalice, the Koffee Cup. Between periods, he’s easily distracted by this reporter’s retro-metro Lord and Taylor shirt, its slanted black and white stripes prompting Disco DeLeo to deliver his best Tony Malero (John Travolta, Saturday Night Fever) move and then to ask, “Where’s the disco ball?”

“It is old home week,” the AMHL photographer says for the second time, as injured Av and eight-year veteran Brent Delehey walks (no limp, so the MCL is on the mend) along the corridor connecting Rink Two and Rink One to join the photographer, this reporter, and injured Capital Dean Banfield.

Banfield, the silver-haired cincquegenarian, is sporting a black knee brace and can only watch, as his Caps try to conquer le tour de force Boudreau.

“Seven minutes to go,” Banfield says. “Do or die time. Make this exciting.”

From the near boards, Panther forward, the dexterous and never-say-die Ben Budds, zings a pass toward teammate Rob “Mobile” Mirak, who is, ironically, parked near the far post. Boudreau flicks his stick to break up the pass, though.

DeLeo is not just stayin’ alive, he’s thrivin’. He adds another goal (assisted by the venerable and diligent David Hale), and he finds himself once again posing for a picture with the Koffey Cup, with old-timers and the young buck, Boudreau.

DeLeo’s season concludes with three championship victories, and Boudreau will, mayhap, complete the trifecta tomorrow.

Friday August 20
Concord, MA

Twenty-four-year old rookie goalie Tyler Boudreau wears #51, which is the approximate age of his counterpart, the prodigious Kate Fallon. In the second period, she and her Stars are embroiled in a scoreless tie with Boudreau’s Kings.

Like Fallon, fifty-year old King forward Gene “Don’t Call Me George” Costanza is keeping up with the youngsters. Costanza picks Jonathan Corke’s—in his mid-twenties—pocket along the boards. But Costanza cannot deposit the puck past Boudreau.

Fallon appears unfazed, matching the much younger Boudreau save for save. Perhaps not as spry as Boudreau, Fallon has been relying upon steadfast positioning to thwart the Kings, like Brian Barringer. Number 11 shoots from the low shot, and the puck flutters toward Fallon, who is once again in prime real estate to trap the puck like it’s a broken butterfly.

With less than thirty seconds in the second period, King forward Tim Smith controls a pass at the Stars’ blueline and skates in alone on Fallon. He fakes a shot from the slot, freezing Fallon, skirts around the fifty-something and then slides the puck over the unprotected goal line.

Five minutes into the third period, Smith stations himself in the crease, sniffing for rebounds. He pokes home a loose puck, and the Kings lead 2–0.

Boudreau seems like an impenetrable fortress, but Big Green refuses to cease the assault. On the power play, with 1:30 on the clock and Fallon on the bench in favor of an extra attacker, Marshall McLean—the Stars’ go-to guy all season—blasts a shot from the face-off circle. Boudreau blocks the shot with his waffle, once again stymieing the Stars.

After the buzzer signaling the shut-out, King Boudreau taps his stick twice upon the pipe to his right and then skates toward his minions to celebrate his third championship victory this week.

“That goalie is insane,” Corke says as he shakes his head and trudges toward the losers’ locker room.

Boudreau, if nothing else, has been a royal pain in the posterior.

But will the baby-faced substitute—and junior studs like Bagley and Marchand—become regulars and prove as durable and dependable as the senior set—the DeLeos, Barroses, Hales, and Fallons?
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