Monday, August 29, 2011

AMHL Tuesday Championship: Hockey and a Hooley

Boys-a-dear, all of Ireland is worried that the AMHL Flyers trail the Leafs, 0–3. The visitors are in a wee bit of trouble, without the services they are, of Ryan “Green Machine” O’Connor and Jeremy “Lucky Charms” Doyle. (The two are on loan to the Brampton Blades. During AMHL championship week, no less.)

Right to left we go, then, across your Internet connection, as we follow the Flyers in the second period. Jeff Quinn, a lad who shoots lefty, skates across the Leafs’ blueline and to the right circle. On a two-on-one, he sells the pass across the slot and opts for the shot. Clank. The puck dings the post and then drops behind the goal line.

Less than three minutes later, his teammate, Dave Mello (ends in O but close enough to Irish for hockey fans on the Emerald Isle) threads the needle—a perfect pass through the crease—to the Quinn, who deposits the disc behind netminder Steve Scansaroli.

Back the other way, Leafs forward and Aerosmith attendant John “(With) The Great One” Bionelli, his index finger affixed with white tape to bolster a broken bone, sidesteps a would-be defender inside the blueline. He strides toward Flyer goalie Brian Monahan, who can’t stop Bionelli’s backhand shot.

“Four-two,” says referee Peter Bagley, as the teams contemplate the third period.

Scans, sans his goalie helmet, faces his own goal as he squeezes his beverage bottle and then swallows a refreshing liquid. He secures the helmet on his head and then turns to face Monahan, 185 feet (56 metres) away. And the boys are raring to go.

Monahan faces a two-on-one-attack, his eye focused on the puck. A shot from slot. The disc darts towards the goal, but the backstop makes a toe save.

Mello, the dab-handed passer, and Quinn, the post-hugging finisher, connect, and post-haste the Flyers trail, 3–4.

When the Leafs counter with a goal with a wee more than eleven minutes on the clook, Ireland sighs; the outlook for victory is grim. But might this match make it to overtime?

Bagley nods in affirmation as Doyle and O’Connor, no doubt, watch via streaming video.

The lads witness a kerfuffle in Scans’s crease… the puck is loose—and then Flyer Dev Barron scores. And then, a tad more than a minute later, Mello scores.

“Five-all,” bellows Bagley.

Seems the ref was right. He’s always right, (even when he’s wrong.), some might reckon.

With the seconds evaporating from the clock, and but five minutes remaining, Mello skates into the crease. Thwack, thwack. He bangs his stick’s blade against the ice. Pass the puck to me. A teammate obliges, and then Dave snaps a low shot inside the post to Scans’s left. The lamp is lit, and Dublin is delighted.

Or maybe Bagley was right? Plenty of time for another goal.

The Leafs, led by the AMHL’s all-time scoring leader, will not surrender. Five seconds left in the game, and Dana Salvo lurks in the slot. As all great goal-getters will tell you, they wait for the puck to find them. Two seconds…and as Salvo sets himself for the shot, Monahan falls—feet first—to the occasion. As Salvo shoots, the keeper slides, like, across the crease to save the morning.

Good man ma da Monahan. And all of Ireland is a ta-ta-ta-ra-ing, craking on, having a hooley (and a donut).

The Three Stars, as voted by the media

3. John Bionelli: Hat trick and a picture with Wayne Gretzky
2. Dave Mello: two goals, two assists, and two ould BC socks
1. Jeff Quinn: hat trick and a hug for the Koffey Cup

Honorable mention:

Ould Irish slang: from Patrick Taylor’s “An Irish Country Doctor”
Score: A Hockey Musical
Peter Bagley: Marketing maven, entrepreneur extraordinaire, and remarkable referee
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