Sunday afternoon it was back to the rink on Electric Street; West Side Arena, and the Flames playing host to the Shamrocks. You may recall that the Shamrocks are a big team, long, lanky, and skilled. The Flames and Shamrocks met twice in December with each earning a 2-1 victory on their home ice. Both games were tightly contested, nearly even in shots, with the Flames trying to deny the big bodies room to skate and unload their howitzer like slap shots. Let’s see how this one turned out.
1st Period: In the opening period it looked like we were all headed for another 2-1 outcome, or something close to it. The Flames started slowly, but held on tight to get through the first period and keep things tight. The Shamrocks did score the only goal of the period. The home team had troubles getting the puck out of their own end, mostly because they ignored teammates who were open or at least in a better position to move the puck along. Even so, the shots were nearly even. The thing that looked least promising was the amount of space the Flames players were allowing the Shamrocks’ big boys to skate their wing and rifle shots towards the net.
2nd Period: Whatever transpired in the 60 second intermission certainly worked, well, sort of? The Flames did come out much more intense, especially in the offensive end. Although they did allow a pair of goals on just three shots; both were blatant breakdowns. On the other hand, they scored two goals themselves and got twelve shots on goal. Sam Hebert cut a two goal deficit in half when he scored a pretty goal after being set up by little brother, Wil Hebert. Then the Flames went down 3-1 and it looked as though the period would end that way. With 1:01 left in the period, Zachary Bayer scored a big goal, cutting the Shamrock lead to one. Bayer was set up nicely by Jackson Puzzo and Wil Hebert. After two periods, the Flames trailed 3-2.
3rd Period: In the final period, the Flames took the offensive to another level and the Shamrocks found themselves playing from behind. First, Zachary Bayer took a pass from Ashlie Killen and scored the game-tying goal. Then Bayer struck for his third goal of the game when Wil Hebert and Patrick Goren set him up for a power play goal. The Flames now led with more than nine minutes to play. Next, Sam Hebert scored again, this time unassisted, and the Flames led 5-3. The Flames were dominating play; they reeled off eleven shots in the period before the visitors registered even one shot. But, as two-goal leads go, one shot pulled the Shamrocks back into the game. They scored with 1:07 to play, just after they had pulled their goaltender for an extra attacker. The faceoff at center ice meant the Shamrocks would put their goalie back in net and for the next 40 plus seconds the Flames maintained pressure, keeping the extra attacker off of the ice. Then with 21 seconds left, the net emptied and the visitors made their final push. The Flames were ready and broke up a centering pass, with Zachary Bayer finding the puck on his stick again. Bayer shot on net from his own blue line, even though several coaches were heard calmly suggesting otherwise. The shot was on the money and with 0:01.6 seconds left to play, the Flames had scored their 6th goal in less than 22 minutes of play. The Flames dominated in offensive chances and shots on goal, mustering 27 shots over the final two periods, and 35 shots on goal in total. It was another well deserved win for the home team, who clearly got better as this game wore on.