Pumpkin Disorderly vs. The Merlots
(Listen to the game here)
It’s MGHA opening night and the 7 o’clock (7:10pm or 1910 to be precise) matchup is between the Merlots and Pumpkin Disorderly. The Disorderly made a statement early just 20 seconds into the game – they had already warmed up Merlots goaltender Nikki Veldkamp with a few opening shots when Disorderly defender Randi Hagen shot the puck from the blue line and scored off a deflection by a Merlots player. After that, both teams traded off offensive opportunities, engaging in a spirited battle. The Disorderly had another prime scoring change in the 1st, but co-captain Eric Witte wasn’t able to capitalise and Nikki covered up the puck, putting an end to that. Some other notable plays include Disorderly defence Chris Allman’s amazing set up passes, the excellent as always positional play by Merlots’ players and fiancees, Amanda Forbes and Miranda Soloff, and a dangerous shot at the point from Merlots’ defence Vlad Brik. The period ended 1-0 Disorderly.
The second period started with a strong Merlots volley, starting from their faceoff win by Mike Ekberg. Amanda hit Miranda with a tape to tape pass at the corner of the net, and Miranda elevated the puck up and over Disorderly goalie Joe Znidarsich (an impressive feat considering how tall he is even crouched over). The puck landed tantalisingly in the open crease for a heart-stopping moment, a perfect black circle in the semi-circle sea of blue paint, with a open gaping net mere inches beyond… before Disorderly defence Randi saves the day, clearing the puck and crushing the Merlots hope of scoring on that play. In one of their next offensive opportunities, the Disorderly score again, making it 2-0 by a goal from centre Brian Olinger.
Midway through the game, we were treated to the sight of one of the referees, usually some of the most accomplished skaters to grace our ice, jittering across the centre line in slow motion, arms outstretched, trying not to fall down. The ref recovered their balance successfully, and the game went on.
Both teams were determined in their quest to score goals, as is the point of this game. However, the outstanding play of both goaltenders made this a nigh impossible task, since stopping goals from being scored is their goal in life. Merlots goalie Nikki denied Brian Olinger a second goal and also stopped at least a few of Chris Allman’s fancy shots to keep her team in the game.
To open the 3rd, the Merlots dived right into another near-scoring opportunity. Mike’s shot took a weird bounce around the net and Disorderly goalie Joe lost track of the puck – fortunately, luck was on his side and he was able to find and cover it before anyone else had the chance to react. Pumpkin Disorderly hadn’t stopped being, dare we say, disorderly, and tried to wreak as much havoc as possible on the Merlots plan to score, but the Merlots got a few more good offensive opportunities – co-captain and defender Ashleigh Baldwin got a couple of great shots off, one blocked by Chris Allman’s shin pads (ouch), and the other turned away by goalie Joe. By the end of the game, the Disorderly were exhausted, icing the puck twice. With 8 seconds left, Merlots centre Miranda won the faceoff in the offensive zone, but the puck trickled just past the stick of the Merlots defender, and the score stands 2-0, with the victory going to Pumpkin Disorderly.
Never mind the score, though – both teams were extremely well-matched, and played impressively well in spite of only having 2 practices beforehand. It’s hard to believe this is the first time these teams have played. They’re both shaping up to be formidable opponents – the rest of the league better watch out! Both goalies made some impressive saves, and the final score would have been much higher without both goaltenders’ skill and expertise in net.
However, the star of the game has to go to Pumpkin Disorderly player Randi, who not only scored the game winning goal 20 seconds into the game, but made a just as important save when an answering Merlots goal seemed inevitable. When asked about that save, she said that she was “grateful that I was able to get that one out. But I made up for it – later, I shot the puck right back to Joe and was so glad that he caught it. Witte told us on the bench afterwards, ‘Remember, we’re shooting at the other net’.”
She made no mistake about which net to shoot at when she scored her goal. She wasn’t expecting it to go in, as Nikki had it well in her sights before the deflection – a prime example of why it’s never a bad idea to send the puck to the net, as you never know what will happen. And to score right off the bat like that? “It felt fantastic,” Randi said.
Fellow teammate McKenzie Zeiss caught up to us outside of the locker room. “Is [Randi] telling you how awesome she is? She was pretty awesome.”