AUSTIN (AP)- THE POND HOCKEY CLUB. In sports, there are those moments of poetic divine intervention. It’s the kind of intervention that helps an individual player, or in some instances the entire team, rise to an occasion against all odds and succeed. It’s Babe Ruth visiting a sick child in 1926 and promising to hit a home run in the game for him (he hit three in that game). It’s Bill Buckner’s first base error in the 1986 World Series for the “Miracle Mets” to win it all. It’s Kirk Gibson’s bad knees and the pinch-hit walk-off home run for the 1988 World Series victory for the Dodgers. It’s Michael Jordan’s famous “Flu game” in 1997. Last year, it was Dee Gordon of the Miami Marlin’s lead-off home run in the team’s first at bat after the tragic loss of teammate Jose Fernandez. Finally, last night, Urs Figi’s spirit was shining down on the Bros as he guided the Boys in Black to their second championship in three seasons after a gutsy and gritty battle against the Golden Thrashers. The game became an instant classic, and will begin replaying on ESPN Classic this Saturday.
Members of both teams stepped to the ice for warm ups wearing Figi tribute stickers on their sweaters. After a delayed start to the game, both teams settled in to a back-and-forth program that featured strong zone play in the neutral zone and man-to-man coverage on the backcheck. Both squads failed to find much success against Golden Thrashers’ goalie Brandon Fawks and the Bro’s Chris “Bro You” Luscombe until Ross “When The Bro Comes Down” Tagtow threaded a pass to Kyle “Just My Bromagination (Running Away With Bro)” McIntosh who put the puck in the back of the net to give the Bros a 1-0 lead. With Golden Thrashers devoting their defensive attention to Noah “Some Bros” Leggett, Tagtow found McIntosh again to put the Bros up 2-0 before the end of the first period.
Both teams came out shooting in the second period, but Luscombe and Fawks continued to battle hard for their respective squads in the crease. A deflected slapshot careened off of a Thrasher elbow and then captain Andrew “Bro Lies” Feigenbaum‘s stick before it found twine to bring the Thrashers within one goal of tying. A few minutes later, they did just that. With both teams in a total deadlock, the neutral zone presence of Bros’ role players Bert “Far Away Bro Eyes” Bischof and Travis “Respectable Bro” Considine helped keep the Golden Thrashers at bay while Scott “Before They Make Me Bro” Van Pelt and Michael “Beast of Broden” Qualls kept pushing with Leggett.
The Bros finally caught a break on a late-game power play in the third when Van Pelt sniped Fawks to put the Bros up 3-2. Just a few minutes later, The empty-netted Thrashers thought they scored, but Luscombe‘s glove stopped the puck an inch in front of the goal line. The Thrashers scored less than thirty seconds later to tie the game at three with less than a minute to play. McIntosh was called for interference with less than a minute remaining, but Chris “Shattered Bro” Beard and Kerry “When You’re Bro” McAlister helped fight the late rush. At the end of regulation in the Spring 2017 B1 Championship Game, the Golden Thrashers and Bros HC drew to a 3-3 tie that would continue to sudden death overtime.
Because the Bros picked up that late game penalty, they were forced to play the first 90 seconds or so of the 4vs4 sudden death overtime short-handed. Undeterred, undaunted, and completely focused, the Bros killed the penalty; however, they quickly picked up another penalty when McAlister was called for tripping, and were forced to kill off the second penalty. With 18 seconds left, the Thrashers shot the puck and hit the post. After a brief moment of incomprehensible pause, the puck was subsequently cleared out of the zone by Beard just before the conclusion of the sudden death overtime. With both teams deadlocked at three, this game headed to a shootout. Luscombe stopped all four shots faced, and Tagtow buried his shot on the Bros fourth attempt to secure the team’s second championship in three seasons.
To reference the great Hughes poem, the Bros dreams of another championship were no longer deferred. The Bros were full throttle all season, leading the league in wins (points) from start to the finish of the regular season. Like any superstitious hockey player, they did not touch the regular season champions’ Presidents’ Cup fearing it would demolish the chance to play for the championship.
The team dedicated the game and the trophy to teammate Fabian Figi, his father Urs Figi, and the rest of the Figi family.
BY THE NUMBERS
36/39 and 4/4- Luscombe’s stat line while sick and loaded up on antibiotics last night.
11- wins for the Bros this season; a franchise record.
5- games won by the Bros in a shootout.
4- straight games in which Van Pelt scored the tying or game-winning-goal.
2- games won the by the Bros in a shootout by Tagtow.
2- championships for the Bros in three seasons.
Drew “Bro Young” John did not play due to his new position as a LifeLine helicopter pilot in Maine.
Nick “Bro Spare Parts” Leggett did not play because he was pretending to be Swamp Thing in Hawaii.
Fabian “I Love Bros Too Much” Figi is still in Switzerland with his family. He appreciates all the thoughts and prayers.