May 18, 2008

Memorial Cup - Game 2

Belleville 4


Spokane 5 (OT)

Yesterday’s game featured the only team in the tournament that we have not seen before – the Spokane Chiefs. They are supported by a small but energetic crowd of family/fans.

The game started with some thundering hits by both teams and we thought we were in for a really physical game but neither team kept it up. It was as if each wanted to set a tone or send a message that they could hit if necessary. There were still some good hits but just not constant. Which is fine by me.

As with the Kitchener Rangers on Friday, the Spokane Chiefs got the early lead. Goals from Drayson Bowman, Mitch Wahl and again Drayson Bowman had the Chiefs up by 3 by the end of the first. Belleville was plain ol’ flat through that period and gave the puck up way too many times. At least one of the turnovers resulted in a goal (the second one I think).

The Chiefs fans have a score “song”. A little Italian (?!) ditty is played (you’d know it if you heard it) and at the key punctuation points the fans all yell “Chiefs!!”.

Up to this point, all the goals were at the OTHER end of the rink so we really didn’t see them (the disadvantage of being so close to the ice). So when the second period started, we all said “just watch, Belleville will turn it on and start scoring – at the OTHER end of the ice”. And sure enough – that’s what happened. This time it was Bryan Cameron scoring early in the period (on Belleville’s 5th shot of the game), Shawn Matthias scoring in the middle of the frame on the first powerplay of the game, and Cory Tanaka scoring in the final minute to make it a game! The Chiefs fans were noticeably quieter. The Belleville fans were not as organized (nor concentrated by location) in their cheering but they were there.

Belleville finally took the lead on Cory Tanaka’s second goal of the game before the halfway mark of the frame. By now Belleville was playing better and getting more shots through although they were still badly outshot overall. It looked like they might hold off the Chiefs….but Drayson Bowman got his hat trick when he tied it up during a scramble in front of the net with just under 3 minutes remaining.

Both teams played the last three minutes hard, trying for that game winning goal in regulation but time ran out. After 60 minutes it was tied at 4 with SOGs: 50 – 25 for Spokane.

Belleville came out strong in the overtime period, keeping the pressure on and getting 7 shots through before it all ended. But it was Spokane’s Levko Koper who was the right guy in the right spot to put it into an empty side when he took a nice cross-crease feed from Justin McRae at 4:46 of the OT period.

This was one of the two goals that we actually saw at our end of the ice. Final shots on goal were 54 – 32 for Spokane.

Random Thoughts:
  • A good game but not as entertaining as the Gatineau – Ranger game. Neither of the teams seemed to contest the ice in front of the net very much (at least from what we saw at our end of the rink) and, while both teams were skilled, it seemed a little sloppier to me overall.
  • Was standing behind some young men in the tunnel waiting for a break in play. They were in suits and so were obviously not just fans. They were the Spokane Chiefs scratches for the game (I asked). They looked like they were the rookies – not even a whisper of playoff beard. They were very polite (said “thank you” in unison when I wished them good luck).
  • Neither of these teams play a “dirty” game – only 5 penalties called all game. I know you can’t count on the refs to call all of the shenanigans but there really wasn’t much to call that we could see.
  • Spokane has the quick turn-around as they play a rested Kitchener Rangers today. This should be an interesting game.
  • Getting our money’s worth – two come-from-behind efforts to tie the games and go into overtime. 11 goals in the first game, 9 in this one. High shot-counts by both winning teams. Some spectacular saves by all goalies (although I don’t think Unice was as tested as Mior).
  • Ran into McGinn-Fan at the game. Had a quick chat before the game.

  • Had dinner at Kelsey’s (wait time was too long at Moose Wisnewski’s – but we’ll get there before the week is done). We didn’t wear our jerseys into the restaurant but some fans did. There was a table with fans wearing Wolves, Bulls, Rangers, Fyers, Fog Devils jerseys and a couple wearing Chiefs jerseys stopped on their way out for a friendly chat.
  • Did I mention how friendly everyone is? Not that I expected a brawl or anything – it’s just really nice to see everyone starting up conversations all over the place.
  • Found a free hot-spot. Buh-bye Starbucks and bell hot-spot and hello Williams Coffee Pub (but the connection is sooo slow - guess you get what you pay for).
More pictures (remember that you can click on any picture in the blog to see a larger image)

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