Keeping all lines at full-strength can be difference between a win and loss in hockey.
The undefeated AON Flames (3-0-2) flew in the face of this well-established truth Wednesday at Takhini Arena, as they played shorthanded for almost a third of the game in a 3-1 win over Yukon Inn (4-2-0).
Because of a miscommunication among the team, the Flames were forced to play the first 14 minutes of the game down a player, but nonetheless managed to finish the first period up 2-0.
“A lot of our guys showed up half-an-hour late because they got the wrong schedule,” said Flames’ Blaine “Bubba” Demchuk, who got two assists in the game.
“Our helter-skelter play at the start threw them off.”
“(We were) not moving the puck around very well in their end of the rink, not giving our selves decent chances,” said Inn’s goal scorer, Sean McAskie. “They certainly picked us apart, as far as leaving guys open in the neutral zone. They had probably a dozen two-on-ones or three-on-ones.”
Flames’ Charles Broadhagen led the charge for his team, scoring two goals and an assist.
Broadhagen opened the scoring with 5:48 left in the first. Demchuk sent a shot wide that went off the boards, behind the net, landing right on Broadhagen’s stick, allowing him to stuff it in the open end of the net.
Broadhagen also opened the scoring in the second flicking in a rebound off of a shot by teammate Scott Lowery. However, Broadhagen twice had chances for a hat trick, getting stuffed by Inn’s goaltender Joe Sparling on breakaway in the second, and then fanning on a two-on-zero pass through the crease in front of the open net.
“I over-skated the puck a little bit and it went through my legs,” said Broadhagen of opportunity. “I should have slowed down for that one a little bit.”
Although the Flames scored only half as many goals in the second half, it was not because of a lack of shots.
With full lines on the Flames’ bench, Sparling faced 17 shots in the second, compared with just four in the other end of the rink.
“He had an outstanding second half,” said Broadhagen of Sparling.
Yukon Inn’s goal came with 7:18 remaining in the game and was assisted by Al Hammond and Daryn Leas.
“Al Hammond just got the puck to me and I just grabbed it quickly and threw it at the net as quickly as I could,” said McAskie, who torn down the right wing and shot from 15 feet out. “It just happened to go in.”
Turbos shut out by Medicine Chest
The game started off looking as if it could go either way.
However, things quickly turned into a one-sided slam fest as Medicine Chest (2-2-1) threw it into high gear, scoring four unanswered goals in the second period en route to a 5-0 win over the Performance Centre Turbos (1-3-1).
“We couldn’t get the puck out,” said Turbos’ right-winger Dennis Zimmermann, speaking of the second period. “They kept pressing hard and we couldn’t clear the zone, and they just kept pushing.
“We just broke down and we just couldn’t clear the puck — that was the deal.
“I’m a second, third liner, so we just dump and grind and chase,” added Zimmermann. “That was working a little bit, but we just couldn’t get it back in front of the goalie. You know, I had one reflection go off my butt on the far side of the net — it just wasn’t coming together.”
Medicine Chest’s centre, Ross Phillips opened and closed the scoring in the second period, twice beating Turbos’ goalie Floyd McCormick on the blocker-side.
“I think we started out-skating them, started passing, started coming together,” said Phillips of the unbalanced second period. “Because it’s the start of the season, takes a while before you start to gel, start to learn your linemates and stuff.”
Forcing turnovers was the bread-and-butter of Medicine Chest’s big second period.
“We just kept forcing the defence to make quick passes, so they’d pass it away,” said Philips. Describing his team’s strategy. “You rush in a quick as you can — don’t let them think about it.”
Ken Vickerman, Dennis Connelly and Paul Lackowicz also had shots meet the mesh for goals. Medicine’s Chest’s Greg Bull also helped give the Turbos the horns with a pair of assists.