Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Summer 2012 AMHL Championship Week Roundup

Tuesday, August 21, 2012
Blues vs. Flyers
Back to School

"It's textbook," Blues defenseman Scott Gelin says in response to teammate Adam Berger’s stepping into a Flyer as the former poked the puck off the latter’s stick. Classic AMHL interference.

Late in the second period, the teams tied at two, Flyers D-man Michael Moore conducts a power play clinic.

The Tonawanda (NY) native and Buffalo Sabres fan channels Tim Horton and Phil Housley as he mans the point. Moore fires a low shot, and faster than you can say “power play goal,” the Flyers lead.

Less than two minutes later, Moore targets another low shot on net. Rebound. Scramble for the puck. Goal. 4–2 Flyers.

Up 5–2 in the third period, Moore—an eight year AMHL veteran—crosses the Blues’ blueline, dishes a neat pass to Vincent MacNutt, a right hand shot on the off wing. The AMHL rookie shoots glove side, just inside the post. Score!
Mike Moore: Back Row (Second from Right)
The Blues insert themselves on the syllabus, converting a turnover into a goal—a shorty by Zach Zacharakis—but the Flyers keep the tuition and win the Koffey Cup, 6–3.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Rangers vs. Canadiens
The Spirit of Stuart Smalley

“We’re better than them…,” Rangers defenseman Mike DeLeo says to his teammates before the third period against the Canadiens, the score 3–3.

“…And by golly, people like us,” the AMHL Photographer completes the affirmation. “Isn’t that Stuart Smalley?” Sort of.

The Rangers lost their first six regular-season games and must have wondered what it would take for them to win. “That’s just stinkin’ thinkin’,” Stuart Smalley would say.

With DeLeo’s ever-abundant upbeat presence and the emergence of rookie sensation Mark Cavanagh (23G, 14A), the Rangers turned a despairing season into Koffey Cup contention.

But down 1-3 against the Canadiens, the Rangers again encountered adversity. “Trace it. Face it. Erase it,” Smalley would say.

Goals by Larry “Breakaway” Brown (courtesy of DeLeo’s long pass), and Cavanagh bring us to this second intermission, where they and the other six Rangers listen to their leader. Will the Rangers believe DeLeo or permit thoughts of their dubious beginnings to run amok?

And what about the Canadiens? Collapse or reclaim their team-esteem?

Midway through the third period, the score still three-all, the Blueshirts and Les Habitants battle their doubts and each other. The Rangers kill a penalty. Confidence: the key to success.

Can the Canadiens dispel their dismay and summon the spirit of a Saturday Night Live skit?

With just over seven minutes remaining, the hockey gods answer: DeLeo—skating right to left across your AMHL imagination—steals the puck at the Canadiens’ blueline, drives below the far circle, skates toward the crease, and then beats the goalie.

The Rangers convert this blossoming confidence into another goal and realize they are on the (b)rink of victory.
Mike DeLeo: Front Row (Second from Right)
The Rangers pose for their championship photo and listen as the hockey gods repeat the underdog’s mantra, this final Stuartsmalleyism, modified for the Koffey Cup winners: “We’re the Rangers, doggone it, and people like us.”

Thursday, August 23
Bruins vs. Capitals

It’s ALL CAPS as the third period is underway and the Bruins lead, 3–2. Bruins netminder Neal Hesler makes a save. His teammates clear the puck. Icing.

The game resumes: Feisty play, fraught with frustration foisted upon the referees, prompts this comment from the AMHL Photographer: ““Matt,” she says, referring to the iconic AMHL arbiter, “must love these games.”

The gruff and disgruntled combatants, their language as foul as the stench seeping from their hockey sweaters and sweaty hockey socks, continue. Blades slicing ice. Bodies crashing the net and into each other.

Hesler and his counterpart, Dan Barros, are on their A games. The Bruins still lead, 3–2, when Capitals forward Aaron Sherman—skating near to far across the Bruins’ blueline—accepts a pass, beats a would-be defender along the boards, and then bears down on Hesler. The slimmed-down Sherman cuts toward the crease and scores. 3–3.

To OT, where mayhem awaits: The three-on-three format, a partial power-play, time-outs. Confusion. And ultimately no scoring after five minutes.

To the shoot-out. In a championship game? How many players will participate? How many goals to win? Best of five, the referees decide, and the Bruins will go first.

1.       Kevin Leverone (B’s): Barros says no. (0–0)
2.       Mike Losier (CAPS): Hesler slams the door. (0–0)
3.       Kevin Daigle (B): Barros won’t budge. (0–0)
4.       Dave Losier (C): No juke and jive, just a shot…and a GOAL. (0–1)
5.       Ben Budds (B): He skates, he stops…he watches Barros poke the puck away. (0–1)
6.       Paul Webster (C): Alternating speeds… shifty and nifty…GOAL! (0–2)
7.       Mike DeLeo (B): He must score. He does score. (1–2)
8.       Aaron Sherman (C): Mr. Calm. Mr. Master the Moment. Goal. CAPS WIN THE CUP!

Mr. Master the Moment: Front Row (Second from Left)


Friday, August 24
Stars vs. Kings
It’s Not Easy Being Green

Hi Ho hockey fans. Kermit the Frog, guest amphibian/blogger, here at the, uh, hockey and donut site.

It’s, uh, not easy being me, as you know. And any Muppet would tell you it’s not any picnic being the AMHL Stars. Not this morning anyway. Of course I’d prefer them to win, their primary color being what it is and all. But it’s better to be wearing white, grey and purple, folks.

The Kings have been a royal pain (go ahead, you old geezers, guffaw) in the neck for the Stars. Tim Donahue, Friday’s perennial points leader, and Scott Kessler, the normally smooth–as–Smuckers (original)–peanut–butter forward, have lost control of the puck more times than Fozzie Bear has delivered a wonderful pun-liner. Waka waka.

And any momentum the Stars generate, well, they just can’t sustain the green energy.

Instead, it’s the Kings who, like Miss Piggy, are hogging the spotlight: the Mike Statkuses, T.J. Uminas, and the Jim Reichhelds—the AMHL dreamers who watch the time on the clock like it’s a rainbow, connecting the joy of imminent victory and the promise of donuts.

Ah, those donuts affixed to the Koffey Cup…they are a sight to be seen…better to be a King…than to be wearing green.
Not Pictured: The Banana King
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