AUSTIN, Texas (AP)- The Pond Hockey Club. Six teams took the ice last night in the first round of the B1 divisional playoff series, but the Golden Thrashers and Barn Burners both received first round byes. A scrappy Learn 2 Skate squad fiercly clawed their way toward victory against the Mean Eyed Cat team, but late penalties, an own goal, some ejections, maybe some rejections (who knows?), and an empty netter in the waning minute sent the Mean Eyed Cat into the second round against Barn Burners next week. Your beloved, and surging, Bros squad, dressed in their classic COME AND TAKE IT black sweaters adorned with the white shoulders, star, and cannon faced off against a Snipez squad that bounced back from their 7-0 defeat to the Bros with a dominant 6-1 win against the Learn 2 Skate team last week.
The story line is the impressive offensive barrage the Bros have carried, as the team outscored their opponents 11-1 in the past two games. The Bros headed into last night’s game looking to continue the forward momentum with a revamped and seemingly unstoppable offense paired with a speedy new look for their shut down defense anchored by starting goalie Chris “Up All Night Bro” Luscombe and backup goalie Josh Mantooth who has played tremendously this season during his brief call ups to the Barn B1 league.
Both teams took some time to get settled in before the Snipez scored on a 2-on-1 play. The lead would last for five minutes before Scott “Bro Pain” Van Pelt smashed a rebound into the back of the net on a play set up by Kevin “Brolding On” Gifford and Chris “Strangest Thing Bro” Beard. Van Pelt, playing in his last game before paternity leave, should dress up as Drew BURYmore with the way he finished that shot. Gifford‘s assist on the play was just the prelude to things to come. After fantastic shutdown defense from Nick “Knocked Down Bro” Leggett and Noah “Nothing to Find Bro” Leggett, Gifford helped put the Bros ahead for good with a quick and easy, nice and greasy pass to Fabian “In Chains Bro” Figi, who had no problem finishing the shot to give the Bros a 2-1 lead.
Gifford scored two in the second, including a top shelf corner blast just to show the Snipez how to live up to their name. The play was set up by Beard and Ross “Thinking of a Bro Place” Tagtow. Gifford’s shot was so authoritative, teammates were seen bowing in awe chanting “We’re not worthy! We’re not worthy!” The final three minutes of the second period were not without controversy, however. With the Snipez on the attack, a net battle between and a Snipez player knocked the net from the goal line as the Snipez shot the puck. The rebound off of Luscombe’s right blocker sent the puck straight up before it careened down to the ice as the whistle blew signalling the play dead. The puck, however, managed to find its way past the goal line, seemingly giving the Snipez the game-tying goal. The officials signaled a “No goal” due to the net being off. Fans heckled and started the classic Big 10 “Bull-shit” chant that lasted until the Snipez later went on to score shortly before the buzzer signaled the end of the period. After two frames of play, the Bros held a 4-2 lead.
The third period was more shut-down play defensively for the Bros and offensive domination. The Bros outshot Snipez 37-26. Bert “Clean Living Bro” Bischof scrambled around the ice helping clear the puck on penalty kills and solid two-way play. Jay “You Don’t Have to Go Bro” Wood played an impact role, especially on the penalty kills down the stretch in the third. Another controversial waved-off goal sent the Snipez into a fervor, but Luscombe and the Bros held steady. Kyle “Red Eyes Bro” McIntosh used his creativity to keep generating offensive opportunities, and captain Andrew “Lost in the Bro Dream” Feigenbaum did a good job of keeping the puck in the zone and firing off low risers from the point for deflections. He later connected with Steve “Burning Bro” Czerniak, who gave the Bros their fifth and final goal of the game. The Bros won handily, 5-2.
This game wasn’t about the mariginalia for those of you focused on the stat sheets. The Bros are playing well as a team and are hoping to carry the momentum into the second round against the top-seeded Golden Thrashers in a rematch of last season’s championship game that went past sudden death and into a shootout. Both teams are poised to put on what many BHL correspondents are calling to be another “Instant Classic.”
The puck drop between the two squads is 7pm next Wednesday.
For his tenacity and smart play on both sides of the puck, Bert Bischof was awarded the team’s revered Gonzales Flag.
-Travis Considine was a healthy scratch. He spent the evening researching the proper way to pronounce “gif.”
–Scott Van Pelt will be scratched until the spring as he begins paternity duty in the next week or so. He’ll go from changing lines to changing diapers. Expect to see him get the occasional nod in the event of a substitution need.
BY THE NUMBERS
121- shots by the Bros in the past 3 games;
74- shots allowed by the Bros in the past 3 games;
1- win away from returning to the championship.