The old adage that good things come in small packages proved true for the Rhinos in Sunday’s closer, as Jason Lamantia stood the Wolves on their hind-quarters, potting two goals in 34 seconds in the first period of this match-up.
Lamantia’s first came at the eleven-minute mark as he picked-up teammate’s Dave Morrison’s rebound and buried it deep behind the Wolves’ tender, Andrew Lunman. The second came from a feed from line mate Rich Krahn that found Lamantia poised at the side of the net to tap the goal home. Lamantia would again make his presence felt later in the first by rattling a solid shot off the crossbar and then the right post, only to bounce clear of the net on what could have been curtains for the Wolves.
The Wolves got back into the game on a shorthanded effort by John Long less than a minute later, then again when Long evened things up for the Wolves in the dying seconds of the first. Long’s return to the pack after missing the Wolves’ previous match-up was not something that Rhinos young sub-goalie Chun Chang had anticipate d , but the young grasshopper would learn his lessons well and have his day in the end. More on that to follow.
The second saw the Rhinos edge ahead at the four-minute mark on a goal by defenseman Dave Morrison. Morrison took a Mike Fox pass to bury it deep in the Wolves net for the lead. This would prove a confidence builder, as the Rhinos put together a solid period of hockey through the first half of this stanza. The Wolves would get their howl on later in the period, as Kevin Chang and Joe Henley found the twine, both on assists from teammate John Deng.
With the Wolves up going into the third, the Rhinos knew there was some work to be done to even things up. Their efforts finally paid off when Alex Whalen soft-handed one by the Wolves ‘ tender on a Mike Fox pass at the six-minute mark.
All tied-up and nowhere to go but a shootout with this one, folks. The Rhinos Whalen was up first, only to be denied by Wolves tender, Andrew Lunman. The Wolves called on John Deng as their first shooter and, although he gave it a good swat on the rebound, the play had long been called dead after the initial shot. Team captain/manager Jean-Pierre Grimard was next up for the Rhinos and he solidly undressed the Wolves’ Lunman with a head fake and a backhander just beneath the sprawling tender. The story from here on out was all sub-tender Chun Chang, as it fell squarely on his shoulders to preserve the Rhinos shootout lead. Showing moxie and courage, the young tender would seize the day, robbing both Roger Needham and the aforementioned Long on their efforts, and carrying the Rhinos to a much needed 5-4 shootout victory.
Jason Lamantia (2 goals and one crossbar; ping!)
John Long (2 goals)
Chun Chang (shootout victory)