AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters)- The Pond Hockey Club is decked out in full holiday regalia with the air of playoffs wafting in the rafters. Last night your #2 seeded Bros HC faced the #3 seeded Learn 2 Skate (L2S) squad. Learn 2 Skate featured a light bench and players with an appetite for an upset. Both teams started sluggish, but the match quickly turned to a physical match and battle of the will. The referees knew that visions of the championship game next week were dancing in the heads of both teams, and peccadillo penalties that are normally called were not, allowing the fate of both teams to unravel like the bow of a present being unwrapped.
The Bros struck first when Nick “Christmas Is a Broday” Leggett collected a pass from his brother Noah “The Little Drummer Bro” Leggett and put the puck in the twine. Three minutes later, Nick returned the favor, saucing the puck to Noah who finished the play and gave the Bros a 2-0 lead. With 5.8 seconds remaining in the first, L2S capitalized on an icing call and managed to score on Chris “Christmas Bro” Luscombe to bring their team within one at the close of the first.
Continuing a puzzling and potentially disastrous trend, the second period was again not kind to the Bros. Learn 2 Skate relentlessly bombarded Luscombe with shots and the Bros struggled to get the puck out of their zone, but Luscombe prevailed. His stoic will, determination, and icy demeanor between the pipes refused to be overcome. The Bros’ opponents managed to score on two lucky shots, and took a fragile one-goal lead before the Blacksweaters decided to downshift and throttle. Drew “Bro Christmas” John managed to duck, cover, and dodge elbows to stay in front of L2S goalie Sean Booth. John was then able to finesse a backhand rebound into the goal to tie the game 3-3. A few minutes later, Chris “Christmas Can’t Be Far Away, Bro” Beard intercepted a L2S pass on the back check, and expertly weaved his way over the river and through the woods to put the biscuit in the basket to put the Bros back in the lead. After the two quick goals, the demoralized L2S team roared back to life for the start of the third.
The Bros simply had enough, and doubled down in the third. Fabian “Santa Claus Is Coming To Bro” Figi and Stephan “Bro For Johnny” Meyer ruthlessly battled along boards and in the neutral zone. Figi also dominated the faceoff circles all night. The two Bros set up Scott “Rudolph the Bro-Nosed Reindeer” Van Pelt and Ross “Winter Bronderland” Tagtow for multiple opportunities. Van Pelt had his highest percentage of quality looks on net of the season, but Booth kept his L2S squad in the hunt. Tagtow found the passes and often looked to serve as a set-up man for Van Pelt and the Leggett brothers. It paid off. A Tagtow pass to The Drummer Bro set up Nick’s second goal of the game. The tally put the Bros up 5-3. Less than two minutes passed before Nick set his brother up for his second goal of the game, and the Bros suddenly held a commanding 6-3 lead.
Learn 2 Skate fought back, but was able to only score one more goal. The Bros defense was outstanding last night, and they prevented breakouts, pinched out any odd-man rushes, and cleared rebounds to reduce high-quality shots on Luscombe. Larry “Silver Bros” Powell turned savage in the corners, and utilized his jousting lance to grind out victories along the boards. Layne “I Heard The Bros on Christmas Day” Brougher had his best game of the season, serving as a set-up man on multiple breakouts while preventing turnovers. Andrew “Brolly Jolly Christmas” Feigenbaum actively engaged the rush, causing L2S to turn the puck over or push the puck into the corners. Beard continued to shut down anyone who dared cross his path.
With his four point effort, Noah Leggett earned the team’s revered Gonzales Flag. Chris Beard earned the second star, and the 38-save effort of Chris Luscombe and Fabian Figi’s dominance earned them the third star.
With the victory, the Bros earned a spot to play in the league championship next Wednesday against a surging Leftovers squad, who beat the #1 seeded New Centaurs last night in an instant Barn classic. That game will be airing for years on ESPN Classic in what may have been the best game of the entire season.
The time for the championship game is to be determined. The early Vegas odds have the Bros as the early favorite with a 0.5 goal spread.
BY THE NUMBERS:
38- Most saves by Luscombe this season.
8- Most wins in a season, a franchise record.
1- Win away from winning the first championship in franchise history.