AUSTIN, Texas (AP)- The Pond Hockey Club. With the 5-4 shootout loss still fresh in their minds, the Bros Hockey Club was forced to put the past behind them and focus on last night’s game against the league’s undefeated powerhouse New Centaurs. The last time these two teams faced one another, New Centaurs squeezed by with a 2-1 victory, despite consistently scoring more than 6 goals in each match.
This game quickly turned into a defensive grind, and Mike Millbury noted that the game was going to be won or lost on the boards. Bros Nick “Second Hand Bro” Leggett, Fabian “The Bro Chain” Figi and Stephan “Bro Dreams” Meyer outskated, outhustled, and simply outplayed the New Centaurs along the glass. These players exemplified the apotheosis of grinding last night, and were critical to building the momentum that led to Scott “Never Going Bro Again” Van Pelt’s opening goal halfway through the first period.
The lead was short-lived, however, as the league leader in goals and points, Dylan Pratt, managed to finesse a wrist shot past broalie Chris “Don’t Stop Bro” Luscombe. Luscombe did a fantastic job of not getting rattled, and he stoically defended the pipes for the remainder of regulation.
The boys in black continued to add points to the “Greasy Goals” column, when Noah “Bro Your Own Way” Leggett scored off a deflection to give the Bros a 2-1 lead. Pratt battled back for New Centaurs and tied the game shortly thereafter on a power play when he caught captain Andrew “Songbro” Feigenbaum’s clearing pass from midair and triple-deked past Luscombe. Pratt would later add his third goal of the game to give the New Centaurs a 3-2 lead going in to the final period of play. Drew “Gold Dust Bro” John and Ross “Silver Bro” Tagtow generated several opportunities, with Tagtow getting four quality looks late in the third period.
The Blacksweaters’ defense and the backcheck went transcendental in the third period as they found another gear. The team smothered Michael Morris and Pratt for the full 14 minutes. Chris “You Make Loving Bro” Beard stripped a puck off the boards and took it coast to coast through goalie Tom Ligh’s legs to tie the game early on. Larry “I Don’t Want To Bro” Powell and Feigenbaum helped block and stuff the continuous barrage of shots from the Pratt/Hughes/Morris line, and Layne “Bro Daddy” Brougher reduced the number of turnovers in the zone by skating with his head up and anticipating the play before it happened. He continues to make significant improvements.
With less than three minutes to play, Feigenbaum stripped the puck from Morris, and sauced a pass over Pratt’s stick at center ice to Van Pelt. Racing toward Ligh, Van Pelt was able to dangle past a New Centaur’s defenseman and rip a wrist shot off the crossbar. In a stroke of luck or genius goaltending, Ligh was able to position his body to prevent the puck from crossing the goal line and the game remained tied at 3.
As the time wound down, Feigenbaum took a delay of game penalty after he pulled Pratt off a 2-on-1 play. Feigenbaum pushed Pratt’s stick into the zone, hoping to draw Pratt offsides, however referee Michael Spell was not fooled by the play, and the New Centaurs found themselves on the man advantage for the final two minutes of regulation. They did not score thanks to exceptional team play by the Bros and the stubborn testicular fortitude of Luscombe.
Fans got some free thrills, because the game went in to a shootout. The Bros shot first, and Beard hit the post. Pratt lined up Luscombe. He deked, he dangled, he bobbled the puck, and Luscombe poke-checked him. No goal. Nick Leggett went second for the Bros. He faked forehand, went backhand, but was denied by Ligh. Michael Morris stared down Luscombe. He skated in, tried a toe drag, and was stuffed by Luscombe. No goal. Van Pelt wiped the sweat from his brow, and the accumulated snow from his blade and stepped on to the ice for the third attempt against Ligh. He stares THROUGH Ligh and picks the puck up at center ice. Leg kick. Head fake. Five hole. GOAL! The Bros bench erupted with excitement and Luscombe gritted his teeth for the potential final shot of the game. He denied the New Centaurs’ shooter the five-hole slot and the game was over. The New Centaurs were no longer undefeated, and the Bros HC earned their first statement win of the season.
The team’s beloved Gonzales Flag is shared by Van Pelt and Beard this week, for their offensive and defensive efforts. Center ice correspondent Pierre McGuire got a few words in with Beard and Van Pelt about earning co-first stars and what this win meant to the team. “Well, Pierre, it’s a team win. We battled back off some bad penalties and we just wanted this more than them. It was a helluva effort, helluva game by New Centaurs, just happy to be on this side of it,” said Van Pelt. Beard added, “Yeah, I mean, it was a big win for us. We needed it. But now we have to look ahead at next week, and keep in the back of our minds that we have a target on our back now, and everyone will be gunning for us. I’m really looking forward to the next time we play those guys, for sure.”
-Feigenbaum threw away the bad luck shower loofah before the game.
-The Bros have now played six straight games decided by one goal.
– Eddie Valls is recovering well and is expected to begin his rehab assignment soon after his recent shoulder surgery.
BY THE NUMBERS:
3- Number of goals Pratt has scored on the Bros
9- Goals Pratt has scored on all other teams.
5- Goals NC has scored on the Bros.
23- Goals NC has scored on all other teams.