Payback! - March 10, 2002
Bulls stampede Brew Crew 7-4 to cap historic playoff comeback
For just the second time since the inception of HLI's double elimination playoff format a team has risen from the depths of the losers bracket to capture a Hockey Long Island championship. Last night, playing perhaps their most complete game of the season and with a focus and determination unforseen, the Bulls redeemed their season's only loss and quaffed the upstart Brew Crew 7-4. The Bulls gained control early and simply refused to give the 'Crew any quarter. Twice the Crew closed to within a goal but the Bulls remained true and decisively countered each time. To their credit, the Brew Crew went down like bad tequilla refusing to capitulate despite playing much of the final period down three. With their victory, the Bulls finally secured the championship hardware that had desparately eluded them and now coronates them as HLI's new 'King of the Ice'.
The Bulls' big star last night was jack-of-all-trades Mike Hagens who lit the lamp 3 times and threw in an assist for good measure. Hagens, normally a defenseman, shuttled to forward during key game and special teams situations. His shorthanded, on-his-back, wraparound goal early in the second seemed to deflate the Crew as he outhustled the 'Crew's defensive corp into their end and forced the crucial turnover. His second goal early in the third proved the gamewinner as he again scored upfront picking the corner on the 'Crew's shellshocked goalie, Jon Parrella. The Crew did well to hold B League Playoff MVP, Shawn Lindsey, to just one goal. Lindsey, however, in an unaccostommed non-scoring role seamlessly contributed several key plays including drawing two penalties that negated Brew Crew power plays. With his one goal last night, Lindsey finished his five game playoff run with 13 goals.
Sweet Glory! - March 4, 2002
Mustangs shoot down LI-Stars 5-4 for first HLI crown, Cougars hibernate Grizzles 5-3 to garner second HLI championship
They could taste it, smell it, see it and for the final crazy two minutes of the third it tantilizing dangled just outside their grasp. But climatically, the Mustangs have now joined the HLI champions annals with a thrilling 5-4 win over the LI-Stars. For the Cougars, they return as champs for the first time in four years with a rousing 5-3 win over the Grizzlies who inexplicably shot themselves in the foot down the stretch. Each champion now adds their name to the 'Hockey Long Island Cup' for history and posterity.
The Mustangs survived a furious late rally by the LI-Stars who fought to the bitter end before succumbing 5-4 in the E League winner-take-all match. The Mustangs took a 3-1 lead into the third and hung on for dear life as E League Playoff MVP, goalie Jim Bauman, turned in a Hasekesque performance that all goaltenders dream about. During a third period in which the Stars fired pucks, sticks, skates, bodies, old shoes, and kitchen sinks at him, Bauman would not relequish his domain or his team's championship aspiration. The Mustangs executed a near-perfect game plan to foil the Stars potent attack and unleash their own underrated counterattack. The Mustangs #1 line of Altomare, D'Amico, and Skelton accounted for all the scoring with D'Amico countering the Stars gallant last gasp with 2 goals in the final two minutes.
It is hockey's most dramatic moment. It pits the hunter against the protector. It focuses all eyes and magnifies the stark contrast of success or failure. Its rewards are exagerrated, its punishment staggering. With 9:15 remaining and the Grizzlies holding a hardfought 3-2 lead, their first of the game only realized just two minutes prior, the Cougars' Mike Russell, the C League Playoff MVP, stood at center ice and stared down Grizzly goalie Bob Avery. In a fitting confrontation of each team's most outstanding playoff performer Russell embarked on the playoffs' turning point and conquered Avery with a left deke and a top corner pick. Russell's penalty shot goal tied this clash of D League titans and swung a championship. Seizing the momentum teammate Mark Bionarz landed another critical blow, his second tally of the game, just 85 seconds later and essentially put away a frazzled, dejected Grizzly squad. Russell added a insurance tally shortly thereafter as the Cougars overcame a lackluster first two periods to claim their second HLI crown.
34 Seconds - March 3, 2002
Bulls strike back, rally past Brew Crew 3-2 and force decisive third game
John Davidson's deflection in the slot of a Shawn Lindsey blueline blast with just 1:26 remaining capped a three goal Bulls rally and set up a one game, winner-take-all B League championship barnburner. Behind two goals and facing their playoff death, the Bulls emptied their arsenal in a seemingly fruitless onslaught on Brew Crew goalie, Jon Parrella. Parrella was stupendous in frustrating the Bulls throughout much of the final two periods styming the Bulls on countless pointblank scoring chances. Parrella, who confronted 30 shots in the two periods, had no chance on Davidson's brilliant mid-air redirect, his second goal of the match.
The game's turning point proved not the Bulls' first goal, a Lindsey top-shelf, onetimer off a nifty Mike Bellanzoni pass with 52 seconds left in the second, but Davidson's instantaneous, 'belly-to-belly' follow-up just 34 seconds later to knot the score. So instead heading into the third period with a two goal advantage, which given Parrella's heroics seemed insurmountable, the Brew Crew squandered their hard fought advantage in a mere, startling 34 seconds. The Bulls continued to barrage Parrella to no avail until the Crew sparked again late in the third and assumed a 5-on-3 advantage with 4 minutes to go. At this point, Bulls goalie Bill Prange, dangerously inactive for much of the third, made several huge stops none more so than an astounding, sprawling, butterfly stonewall on 'Crew gunner Tom Prate.
In the Bag - February 28, 2002
Sabres subdue Rangers 4-2 for over30 crown, Shamrocks exorcise Phantoms 4-3 for C League title
Two past HLI champions each added shiny hardware to their championship shelf with close but decisive victories last night over two scrappy hockey clubs. The championship blueprint is similar for each winning club: a multiple threat offense with a primary sniper, rock solid defense, and stellar goaltending. Each team capitalizes and finishes scoring chances, limits defense zone breakdowns, and plays with a team first mentality. Congratulations to the Sabres and Shamrocks for earning another plate on the 'Hockey Long Island Cup'.
Over30 Playoff MVP Rob Florie continued his opportunistic scoring at critical junctures to lead the Sabres to a 4-2 win over a game Rangers club and lift the Sabres to their second over30 crown in four seasons. In each Sabre playoff victory Florie notched the gamewinner. Last night, his decisive tally off an end-to-end rush put the Sabres ahead for good at the 7:05 mark of the second. The Sabres defense took over the rest of the way limiting any Ranger scoring chances and surviving a critical 5-on-3 powerplay. Florie added an insurance tally midway through the third. The Sabres' victory vindicates co-captain Joe Bosnack's 'guarenteed' championship boast.
Anthony Ricevuto's second goal stemmed a tenacious Phantoms' third period rally and proved to be the decisive gamewinner as the Shamrocks doubled-up their regular season title with a 4-3 playoff championship victory. The Shamrocks built a 3-0 lead heading into the third but the Phantoms climbed back to close to 3-2. Ricevuto, however, diffused the Phantoms rally stiking only 18 seconds after the second Phantoms goal. The Phantoms gallantly scrapped back but could not dent Shamrock goalie, Jeremy Schwartz, for the tie. Ricevuto earned C League Playoff MVP honors capping an outstanding playoffs in which he scored 8 of 18 Shamrock goals.
They're Here - February 27, 2002
Bulls send Hurricanes out to sea 6-1
A resurgent Bulls team, playing with purpose and precision, dissected a besieged Hurricanes club 6-1. Shawn Lindsey again led the Bulls offense notching four more goals upping his three game playoff tally to 11. The Bulls controlled play for much of the game frustrating the usually high powered Hurricane offense. Bulls goalie, Bill Prange, was near flawless and received considerable support from his defensive firm of Acker, Burns, Hagens, Scott and Siff. With the victory, the Bulls now set their sights on a heavyweight payback in the championship round.
#1 Hits the Road, Jack - February 26, 2002
Rangers sink Bucs 4-2
The first #1 seed has been eliminated as a spirited Rangers squad jumped out to a 3-0 first period lead and held off the Bucs, top seed in over30, 4-2. In this battle of longtime HLI rivals, the Rangers got on the scoreboard first on a Tom Peterson goalmouth deflection. Two other first period goals provided all the scoring the Rangers needed. Ranger goalie, Chris Vience, made several glittering breakaway saves in the third to keep the Bucs at bay. The Bucs broke through with two late goals but it was not enough to overcome the four goal deficit they faced entering the period.
Cancel the Parade, Send Home the Mayor - February 25, 2002
LI-Stars lasso Mustangs 7-4, Grizzlies declaw Cougars 2-1 in OT, Phantoms-Black clip Red Wings 5-3, Brew Crew 'tsunamis' Hurricanes 13-4
There was no champagne last night for either the Mustangs or Cougars as they were denied in HLI's first championship games of the fall playoffs. Both winner bracket teams seemed affected by impending history and let slip their precious advantage over their back-to-the wall opponents. These outcomes now set up the winner-take-all matches for the right to place their name aside other past HLI champions on the 'Hockey Long Island Cup'.
The looser LI-Stars swarmed a tenantive Mustangs club in the first 20 minutes and shot out to a 5-0 lead that they never relinquished en route to their 7-4 victory. The 'Stars tilted the ice early as they peppered the 'Stangs goal outshooting them 26-10 through two periods. The Mustangs regained their legs in the third and began to resemble the squad that dominated the winner's bracket. In a valiant comeback attempt the Mustangs closed the gap to 6-4 with 70 seconds remaining but it proved too-little, too late. Jesse Roberts led a balanced 'Stars attack with 2 goals. Steve Tucker chipped in with a goal and 2 assists.
Dave Rosenberg's 'johnnie-on-the-spot' stuffer off a heaven-sent back wall carom secured a 2-1 OT win and elevated the Grizzlies into a deciding D League championship game with the Cougars. In a close, nip-and-tuck affair the underdog Grizzlies dictated play through much of the game only to be stymied time and again by Cougar goalie stalwart, Terry Alyward. The Cougars uncharacteristically played conservative relying on long shots instead of sustained pressure. They were unable to break Grizzly goalie, Bob Avery, until the 9:38 mark of the third on a Mike Russell power play redirect off a blueline slap shot.
The Phantoms continued their late season winning ways with a 5-3 dismissal of the always playoff-dangerous Red Wing club. The Lagnese boys accounted for all the Phantoms scoring with Adam trumping big brother Jason 3 goals to 2. The difference in the game was the Phantoms ability to finish their scoring chances. The Wings mounted a third period attack but failed to convert in crunchtime. Chris Merle had a goal and an assist for the losers.
The Brew Crew gave the Hurricanes a large dose of their own medicine as they pinballed their way to 13-4 win. Scoring fast and furious the Brew Crew raced to a quick, early 3-0 lead and never looked back. The Hurricanes scraped and clawed their way into a game closing the second period down only 6-4. But a 4 goal tidal wave in the first 3:30 of the third put the game out of reach. The 'Crew's offensive fireworks came from the familar names - Tom Prate with 3 goals and 4 assists and Mike Messina with 3 goals and 3 assists. Matt Holtz also had a multiple goal game netting 2. The victory propels the 'Crew into the B League championship round in their inaugural season.
The King is Dead, Long Live the King - February 24, 2002
Bulls dethrone GN-Bruins 8-2, Shamrocks rally past Phantoms-Black 7-6 in OT, Sabres ambush Bucs 5-4
An HLI era ended last night as two-time defending B League champ GN-Bruins officially relinquished their stranglehold on the B League fall championship. Their four year reign included contesting for the B League crown each of the last four years. The door now swings wide open in B League with three challengers eager and willing to lay claim to HLI's best. In the night's other games, two teams moved closer to their second HLI crown as the Shamrocks prevailed in OT and the Sabres held off a late rally.
The GN-Bruins, in the end, could not overcome key injuries, notable absences, and 'Father Time' as they succumbed to the Bulls' verve 8-2. The Bulls young guns carried play for much of the game as they wore down the proud champions. Shawn Lindsey again led the Bulls' scoring with 3 goals and an assist. Dean Deangelo added 2 goals and Mike Bellanzoni had a goal and 4 assists as the Bulls continue their long journey to stake their championship claim.
Bill Smith's game winner, his second goal of the game, four minutes into overtime capped a fevered 3rd period rally and elevated the Shamrocks past the Phantoms 7-6 and into the championship game. The 'Rocks erased a two goal third period deficit as Anthony Ricevuto knotted the score with two twine ticklers, his third and fourth goals of the game, the second coming with 3:50 remaining in the game. The Phantoms, who led for much of the game, failed to mount any offense in the third as they played back on their heels. They were led by the Lagnese boys, Adam and Jason, who each notched 2 goals apiece.
Once again utilizing a second period blitzkrieg the Sabres charged past the Bucs and held on late for a 5-4 victory setting up a dance with destiny. For the second consecutive game a Rob Florie shorthanded goal, his second in as many games, springboarded a Sabre 2nd period rally in which they scored 4 unanswered goals and staggered the Bucs. The Bucs righted their ship midway through the third and countered with two tallies in 80 seconds. An apparent tying goal with 2:50 left was waved off by the officials for kicking the puck. The call seemed to deflate the Bucs for they could not mount any serious scoring threats the rest of the way. The Sabres's Florie had 2 goals in the game and the Bucs' Bruce Kowalsky and David Szvetecz had two apiece.
Bear Trap - February 23, 2002
Grizzlies exterminate Scorpions 5-3
The Grizzlies earned ticket to the D League championship game with a hard fought 5-3 victory over a resilient Scorpions squad. After the Grizzlies gained a 3-0 lead in the middle of the second period the pesky Scorps scrapped back. After goalie Chris Lattanzio snuffed Grizzly Alex Sandorfi on a penalty shot, Steve Henderson and Larry Jordan narrowed the lead to 3-2. The teams traded goals midway through the third before Grizzly goalie, Bob Avery, stonewalled a furious Scorpions' last gasp for the tying goal.
Midnight - February 22, 2002
LI-Stars melt Avalanche 7-1
Midnight arrived for HLI's playoff Cinderella last night as the LI-Stars continued their bounce back from a first round loss with a 7-1 payback over the Avalanche. Sebastian Raspanti was last night's 'Shining' Star. He was in on all 'Stars goals scoring 4 and assisting on the other 3. The Stars dominated throughout limiting any Avalanche scoring chances. Raspanti's linemates Jesse Roberts, a goal and 4 assists, and Steve Tucker, 2 goals and an assist, completed the Stars scoring.
Survive and Advance - February 20, 2002
Rangers boot Bulldogs 3-2 in OT, Red Wings lock up Court Officers 7-4
The loser bracket is fraught with peril where every mistake is magnified and could signal the end. The objective is only to get to the next game by whatever means. Last night victors took separate paths to live another day. The Rangers needed a overtime stuffer off a mad scrum while the Red Wings road tail on a stupendous 6 goal performance.
A Bob O'Neil fortuitous poke among an eight-man goalmouth melee with 44 seconds remaining in the first overtime revived the Rangers' playoffs hope with a 3-2 OT win. The Rangers clung to a slim 2-1 lead before a Steve Anderson blueline blast found the top left corner to deadlock this tense affair. Each team had several overtime scoring chances before O'Neil's gamewinner cemented the Bulldogs golf plans.
Mike Marino seized the stage and delivered one of the special performances in HLI playoff history. His unprecedented 6 goals advanced the playoff tested Red Wings squad with a 7-4 victory over a game Court Officers club. In a hotly contested match, neither team backed down from this emerging C league rivalry. Great team efforts were put forth by both clubs, particularly the 'Wings who seem to thrive in elimination hockey and have now set their sites back on the C League championship. Marino's linemate, Mike Tricarico chipped in with one goal and two helpers. Jim Rao had 2 goals for the 'Officers.
Knocking on the Door - February 19, 2002
Cougars escape Grizzly claws 3-2 in OT, Mustangs gallop past Avalanche 7-2, LI-Stars shoot down Phantoms-Red 8-5
The first two teams earned their invitations to the Big Dance albeit in two vastly different ways. The Cougars needed an extra session to thwart a Grizzlies comeback. The Mustangs, on the other hand, grabbed an early lead and never looked back. Both teams now stand one win away from a 'Date with the Cup'.
Mike Russell's blast from the top of the left circle at 5:18 of overtime returned the Cougars to championship play after a three year absence. Russell's goal was his third of the night following 2 first period tallies 17 seconds apart. The Cougars dominated the first part of the game before the Grizzlies trademark tenacity began to reverse the tide. Two Grizzlies goals within 22 seconds in the middle of the second period deadlocked this close match. The third period saw both teams with prime scoring chances only to be turned away each time by goalies Terry Alyward (Cougars) and Bob Avery (Grizzlies).
Storming out of the locker room and playing a near flawless first period the Mustangs seized early control of this playoff tilt with the upset-minded Avalanche and cruised to a 7-2 victory. The Mustangs were led by their first line of Jeff D'Amico, Paul Skelton, and Bill Altomare. The trio combined for 4 goals and 6 assists while the Minarczyk brothers, Joe and Mike, eached added a goal apiece. The 'Stangs now stand poised to capture the club's elusive first HLI championship.
The LI-Stars snapped back from their first round shocker to overwhelm the Phantoms-Red in the third period en route to a 8-5 win. The teams were nip-and-tuck through two periods before the 'Stars exploded for five third period goals to snuff out the Phantoms slim playoff hopes. Mike Devin and Pat McKeon each tickled the twine twice for the 'Stars with Devlin adding 2 helpers. Jason Selss scored 4 times for the Phantoms.
Two plus Two Equals Four - February 18, 2002
Bucs leash Bulldogs 7-3, Sabres rally past Rangers 7-5, Phantoms-Black handcuff Court Officers 6-4
Sanity seemingly has found a home. After last night's action, over30 is the only bracket where the higher seed has won every game. Both the Bucs and Sabres shook off sluggish first periods to garner come from behind victories. In C League, the Phantoms-Black continued the recent winning ways and moved past the upstart Court Officers 6-4.
The Buccaneers awoke from a first period slumber with four second period goals to skate past the befuddled Bulldogs 7-3. The Buccaneers, perhaps HLI most disciplined club, employed textbook Bucs hockey to break down the Bulldogs. Getting offense production from their primary guns the Bucs pulled away with three goals during a five minute stretch in the second period. Leading the Bucs attack were John Kannegeiser and David Szvetecz who eached netted 2 goals. Bruce Kowalsky chipped in with 4 assists.
Shaking off a slow start, the Sabres used two second period short-handed goals to storm back from a three goal deficit to defeat the flagging Rangers 7-5. The Sabres assumed the first lead midway through the third period on a Rob Florie putback. The Rangers gamely fought back to tie on a Sandy Sandorfi one-timer less than two minutes later. The Sabres, however, continued to charge the Ranger goal and pulled away with two goals in the final five minutes. Florie led the Sabre attack with a hat trick and Chris Brown added two. Tom Peterson had 2 goals and an assist for the Rangers.
Behind a balanced offensive attack the Phantoms Black assumed control late in the second period and kept the Court Officers at bay the rest of the way en route to a 6-4 win. Six different Phantoms scored in the game with Jason Lagnese's goal at 2:19 left in the second extending a 5-2 Phantom lead essentially salting away the victory. The Court Officers had several power play chances in the third but could not dent Phantoms goalie Eric Miklich. The Officers' Bryan Zash had 2 goals in the losing effort.
Why We Play the Games - February 17, 2002
Brew Crew spank Bulls 9-5, Scorpions dismiss LI-Bruins 6-4, Red Wings Sham-Rocked 7-3
Any remaining doubts about the wonders and dangers of playoff hockey were erased last night. Two higher seeds were caught looking past lower seeded opponents and were punished, one with their flickering playoff hopes. The biggest bombshell was the startling breakdown of the Bulls' championship parade. This dramatic result leaves the previously undefeated regular champs wrestling with their past playoff demons. Almost as surprising was the Scorpions punching the LI-Bruins' ticket into the Spring 2002 season. With the victory the Scorps became the second #5 seed to advance to week #2.
In what was supposed to be a prefunctory ramble to the elusive jewel in the club's championship history has turned into a loser's bracket death march for the Bulls. The Brew Crew, demonstrating poise and purpose, laid the wood to the Bulls withstanding a furious first period onsaught before unleashing their version of high octane offense. Brew Crew goalie, Jon Parrella, was outstanding during the 1st period frenzy fending off 15 shots and a 3 minute Bulls' 5-on-3 power play. Momentum turned during the 2nd period which culminated in two Brew Crew' goals in the final minute. Two quick Bulls' goals two minutes into the third proved only to be a fleeting last gasp as the 'Crew slammed the door 90 seconds later with two quick goals of their own. Tom Prate led the Brew Crew attack with 3 goals and 2 assists. Mike Messina chipped in with 2 goals and 2 assists. The Bulls' Shawn Lindsey tallied 4 in defeat.
Utilizing a total team approach, the Scorpions came from behind to send a listless Bruins' squad packing 6-4. The Scorpion's Larry Jordan garnered a hat trick in the win. His third goal came shorthanded during a decisive 3rd period stretch. Joe Dionisio continued his MVP-like playoff performance for the Scorpions with a goal and 2 assists. His critical 3rd period goal also came shorthanded as he fleeced the Bruins on a defensive zone breakout and deked past the defenseless Bruins goalie. Matt Crafa again led the Bruins with 1 goal and 2 assists as Danny Higgins added 2 goals in a losing effort.
Somewhat lost in the evening's drama was the Shamrocks coldly efficient 7-3 dismantling of the Red Wings. Playing with a sense of purpose and focus that was elusive during the regular season, the Shamrocks sent the message that the C League title chase goes through them. Don Slade's 4 goals and Anthony Ricevuto's 2 goals and 2 assists fronted the Shamrocks' offensive attack. The Shamrocks also played stifling defense throughout permitting only 8 shots in the final two periods, 15 shots total.
Cinderella Has Entered the Building - February 16, 2002
Avalanche shock LI-Stars 6-4, Mustangs edge Phantoms-Red 4-3
Beware the perils of playoff hockey. Riding an 11 game winning streak, the heavily favored #1 seed in E League, the LI-Stars, fell victim to the #5 seed, the Avalanche, in the first major shocker of the Fall 2002 playoffs. With the victory, the 'Lanche earned the right to start taking measurements for Cinderella slippers. Next on the magic carpet ride is the Mustangs who have moved into the favorite's spot with their 4-3 dismissal of the Phantoms-Reds.
Behind the stellar play of the Carney brothers, Kevin and Steve, who combined for 3 goals and 2 assists, the Avalanche unexpectedly landslided the LI-Stars into the losers' bracket with a 6-4 stunner. The Avalanche, the hungrier team throughout, secured their upset with 2 late third-period goals by Mark Bocchi, one a dramatic diving shot with 5:00 remaining. Avalanche goaltender, Chris Reidy, stood tall during an intense 3rd period barage turning away all 11 Stars shots.
A Jeff D'Amico goal with 4:02 remaining in the 3rd period cemented a classic bend-but-don't-break Mustangs' victory. Employing their opportunistic, counterpunching attack the Mustangs set the tone with two 1st period power play goals. In the 2nd and 3rd periods the Mustangs continually frustrated the younger Phantoms allowing few prime scoring chances despite the Phantoms tilting the ice to the Mustangs' end. In the winning effort, Mark Bernstein netted 2 goals for the 'Stangs.
Storm Front Forming! - February 15, 2002
Hurricanes buckle defending champs 5-4
Two goals in forty seconds with under 5 minutes to play propelled the Hurricanes past a stunned GN-Bruins squad 5-4. In a back and forth tussle, with no more than a goal separating the teams at any point, the GN-Bruins seized ther first and only lead with 5:52 remaining on a nifty top shelf goal by Rich Pisani. Undeterred, the 'Canes responded swiftly and decisively. Just over a minute later, Pat Calcagno and Angelo Garci scored 41 seconds apart jolting the defending champs. The Bruins now face an unfamiliar, uphill climb through the losers' bracket to return and defend their crown. The 'Canes were led by Calcagno's 2 goals and Sergei Simonov's 1 goal and 2 assists. Ben Parker tallied 2 goals for the Bruins.
Old Time Hockey! - February 14, 2002
Grizzlies stave off the fast charging LI-Bruins 5-4, Cougars claw Scorpions 8-3
The D League winner's bracket opened as expected: the Cougars took care of business and the Grizzlies and LI-Bruins played down to the wire. The two losers now trudge the long road starting with an elimination game on Sunday. The two winners, mulligans still in hand, play a crucial winner's final on Tuesday that historically is a significant leg up in the ‘Race for the Cup’.
In a game that was really two games, the Grizzlies weathered a late furious LI-Bruins rally and prevailed with a 5-4 win. The Grizzlies mauled the LI-Bruins in first 18 minutes of the game storming to a 5-0 lead. Five different Grizzlies scored and if not for several spectactular saves from Bruins' goalie, Lou Orquera, this game was double-digits. The B's, however, got two quick second period goals and slowly turned the tide. In a fierce third period befitting the two closely matched rivals the Bruins, seizing a 5-on-3 man advantage, scored with 3:01 and 1:30 remaining in the game. In a frantic final minute, Grizzly goalie Bob Avery made two point blank, highlight reel stops preserving the hard fought win. The Grizzlies were led by Joe Migliore's goal and assist. Matt Crafa had a goal and 2 assists for the Bruins.
Too much - too much offensive, too much defensive, too much goaltending. With all team weapons on display the Cougars dispatched a game Scorpions club 8-3 in a workmanlike effort. Defenseman Matt Alyward led the Cougars with 2 goals and 2 assists. Paul Monfre and Mike Russell added 2 goals apiece. The Scorpions tamed the vaunted Cougars attack for much of two periods before the Cougars broke the game open with two late second period goals.
Escape from Alcatraz! - February 13, 2002
Brew Crew steal one from Anglers 4-3(ot), Bulldogs survive Blues 2-1(ot)
Both 'dogs fell just short of springing upsets as each coughed up third period leads before succumbing in overtime. Both games were tense struggles and reiterated the precarious plight of playoffs is simply to Survive and Advance!
Dan Rossiter's goal 27 seconds into OT off a draw from the right face-off circle capped a three goal comeback as the Brew Crew narrowly escaped with a 4-3 overtime win over a focused and determined Anglers squad. The 'Crew, outplayed for most of the game, sent the match into overtime on a Mike Buckley onetimer w/ 4:27 left in the third. The Anglers employed a shadow defense to stifle the 'Crew's big guns and played with a sense of purpose that mysteriously eluded them most of the season. The Anglers were led by Joe Stuckey's 2 goals and 1 assist.
Indefatigable Joe Cantalupo netted a fluke gamewinner 51 seconds into OT as the Bulldogs eeked out a 2-1 victory over a stunned Blues team. In a close, defensive match-up each team struggled to find the back of the nets. The Blues' Chris Ryan broke the scoreless tie midway through the 3rd period and with goalie Tom Zdrojeski playing brilliantly the Blues looked primed for the upset. Tom Lebrine finally solved Zdrojeski scoring from the high slot with just 2:59 remaining setting the scene for Cantalupo's overtime heroics.
Here we go again? - February 12, 2002
Red Wings derail Bladerunners 6-1
In a clash between long-time HLI rivals the Red Wings systematically disposed the Bladerunners 6-1. Employing textbook Red Wing playoff hockey, the Wings secured a neat 3-1 first period lead and then refused to permit the Blades any sustained scoring opportunities the rest of the way. The Wings were led by Chris Merle's 1 goal and 2 assists as linemates Dennis Salvatore and Mike Marino both chipped in with a goal and an assist. With a wealth of playoff experience and goalie Mike Anderson on his game, the Red Wings have to be considered a serious C-League title threat.
Upset City! - February 11, 2002
Avalanche snuff Black Stars 1-0, Scorpions sting Minutemen 7-1
Portending the playoff havoc to come, both #5 seeds sprung upsets last night sending a chilling message to the remaining higher seeds that there will be no easy outs on the road to the Cup.
In one of the best games played this Fall 2002 season, the Avalanche finally broke the Black Stars on a Marc Bocchi third period power play goal. This back and forth donnybrook featured numerous scoring chances, clean hard play, and two goaltenders who refused to wilt to the playoff pressure. Avalanche goalie Chris Reidy stood firm and true late in the third period as the Black Stars emptied the sky in search of the tying goal.
After rummaging all season, the Scorpions found their missing offense and unleased a scoring barrage against the Minutemen. A pair of goals from Tom O'Keefe and a goal and 3 assists from Joe Dionisio led the relentless offensive attack. With goalie Chris Lattanzio turning in another stellar performance, including a penalty shot denial, the Scorpions seem poised to rattle the big three.