A little extra hot tea is on my breakfast menu today, after sleeping with the heat on too high – but mostly after watching a 2-1 third-period deficit, with 2:40 left to play, turn into a 3-2 regulation victory over the Norfolk Admirals last night in front of 10,502 at the GC.
I have to say, that was the best response I have seen from the team and its fans. Only a small number of people decided that it might be best to beat the traffic out of the lot, or head home to take care of needed late chores. I saw a few return from the hallways after Ryan Stoa’s incredible, near-impossible tying goal with 2:33 left on the clock.
Then I saw everybody standing when Ryan Potulny provided the heroics with 45.1 seconds on the clock.
Then I couldn’t see the players celebrating because of the bedlam in the stands… which is okay by me, believe me!
It was indeed a nice way to finish a tough night behind the microphone. I’ll be the first to admit mistakes…and it felt like I was just going to put out a whole bunch in the opening period alone. First, I had guessed – after watching two scoreboard-version replays (can’t WAIT until we can upgrade ours at the GC) – that Josh Brittain’s goal was not going to be awarded 3:20 into the game when referee Nic Leduc headed to the scorer’s table to take a look. WRONG. Brittain’s stuff attempt from behind the right post had just the right angle to allow a millimeter of white paint to appear between the puck and goal line, right before Kevin Marshall tucked it out the other side. It was almost a great save. No one could see the puck cross without a look at the overhead camera. Good goal.
I then immediately thought Dan Sexton (#23) was getting credit for it. A lapse of five seconds, my focus on where the puck was, and the fact that I saw a “3″ on the jersey took my memory completely away from the fact that Brittain (#13) was the one who grabbed Sexton’s short pass and scored.
Awful start for the radio guy. But I digress.
The next goal was easy to follow. Garrett Mitchell lifted a backhander over Igor Bobkov just 1:53 into the second period to tie the game. The whole thing wouldn’t have happened had Stoa not tipped a puck around defenseman Jordan Hendry to spring Mitchell and Peter LeBlanc two-on-one. That’s called making the shot count, as the BEARS were in the midst of another shot struggle after being outshot 10-6 in the first period.
The Admirals re-claimed their lead early in the third, on a goal that was not without controversy. Looking at the replay of this goal, we see Brittain chip a shot on Philipp Grubauer from the right side, and then players just start rolling toward his crease. One was Garrett Mitchell, who plowed into Grubauer and rendered him unable to make a save on Troy Bodie’s follow-up chance. Originally (again) I guessed incorrectly that there might be some kind of interference – but it couldn’t have been, since it was a BEARS player that toppled over Grubauer.
However…Mitchell only plows Grubauer after Brittain shoved him. And he shoved him immediately after delivering an elbow to the face of Julien Brouillette. Watch in regular time and then watch the close-up replay at 2:09 of this video. Hardly a “clean” way to drive to the net. We were all irate of course, but for the wrong reason. That elbow was very subtle to those from far away.
Karma eventually comes into play, however. With time ticking down and the BEARS down by one, Stoa scores a goal that anyone else who was standing there throwing the puck underhand-style couldn’t do. Watch the video at the 2:37 mark. His face after the celebration says it all.
Many in the crowd had the same face after watching Potulny get the job done inside the final minute. A classic, clean way to hunt down a loose puck and flip it home.
A big win against a very good opponent who has been playing good hockey with an edge.
Now comes the biggest task of the weekend. The BEARS face the AHL leaders at 5:00 today. The Syracuse Crunch are owners of the top offense in the league, having scored 192 goals. However, the Crunch have only scored one goal in each of their last two games, both at home. The team lost 3-1 to the surging Albany Devils on Friday, then dropped an overtime decision 2-1 to the Rochester Americans last night – after taking a late penalty to award the Amerks a power play.
This team is NOT coming to Chocolatetown happy nor satisfied. Look for a desperate drive in the Syracuse lineup and look for heavy pressure – and speed. Syracuse has it all. The BEARS will need their best to beat the best. If they do, it’s a 6-point weekend – and it’s the first time all year that the team has a chance to win three in a row at home.
Game notes, complete with other tidbits, are here.
Puck drops at 5:00. See you here.