The evening’s second battle saw two“middle-of-the-pack”teams battling to dominate each other as well as the Sharks who have two games in hand. Both teams went with replacement ‘tenders on the eve with the Raptors fielding Justin“Smokey” Lewis and the Wolves going with Young Chang Chun in place of Andrew Lumpy Lunman who was hoping that by not dressing, the league’s abhorrent suspension practices would be forgotten.
This game and its result, like all Raptors’games, would be a question of how well Mal would do. The league leader in points was looking to extend his lead in the points race and was fortunate enough to be shooting on the oft-shaky tending of Young Chun. Mal’s gamble (as head referee) in fielding Chun in a game he was playing in looked to pay off early as Raptors’ diminutive dynamo Paul Bray jumped all over a pass from Murray Richardson to tip in the first goal barely a minute in. His “Yeah Baby”was heard throughout the cozy confines of Taipei Arena.
Roger Needham responded by taking his first of three minor penalties (does he need an officially sanctioned CIHL warning for that?). While in the box, Needham was able to take advantage of the coaching savvy of Dave Campbell who instructed the rookie the he would“need to score a lot of goals tonight.”Needham took the advice to heart and potted one past Lewis right out of the box to tie the game. 2 minutes later, Raptors regular goalie Jeff Cuvilier went off for a trip which he claimed“was such a dive”. Perhaps Jeff is unaware that when you take the pads off, people stop bending over to ensure that CIHL goalies go unpunished.
4 key events closed out the opening stanza. The first, while breaking in, Marcus Maidment lowered the shoulder to get around Wolves D-man John Long, but Long was equally squat and a collision resulted that sent both men pin-wheeling across the ice. Next, Mal had his first crack at Chun on a good rush, but the youngster was not intimidated, and Mal skated away questioning his choice for the Wolves replacement ‘tender and with growing doubt in his own abilities. Roger put the Wolves ahead after a goal mouth scramble, then Rachel brought cookies, which Thundercat ate, but he still cheered for the Rhinos over the Bears, jerk.
The second period began much like the first, with Needham going off for a trip. This caused Lunman to temporarily lose his mind, but uber-referee Tommy Sullivan told where to go and how to get there, so Lunman went back to hunting for cookie crumbs. The Raps PP was downgraded from“blasse”(in the first) to“tedious”. A scare-larious moment and the midway point when Kevin Chang took what was arguably a pass, in the chest. The force of the blow put the young defense man into a slow motion spiral collapse where he inexplicably remained for a good 7 seconds thereafter. I think I even heard the slow motion“NOOOOOOO!”that often accompanies such events in the more popular movies of our time. Perhaps it was “BUUUU HAOOOOO!”
The remainder of the second saw Tommy furiously blowing Dylan Liu and Ross Kolton (two times! warning?) for various infractions.
Third period, Wolves up by 1, Chun’s stoning Mal, and look, there’s Joe Hodgeson! This whole time I thought he wasn’t here...
Needham gets to work early, picking up his hat trick following another goal mouth scramble. Clear the front Raptors. Peter Chang was able to pad the Wolves advantage minutes later after Needham did the hard work to get the puck to the net, where the Raptors D was unable to do anything about anything anywhere. With the game almost out of reach, Mal is finally able to solve Chun at the halfway mark after being set up by Ross Kolton. Then Mal slashed Dylan’s stick out of his hands behind the play and quashed his own momentum. Despite Mal’s ill-timed penalty, the Raps were able to close the gap when Paul Bray buried his second of the night. The short-handed marker came with Marcus on the assist and 7:45 remaining.
Wolves extend the lead on ANOTHER SCRAMBLE, John Long put the dogs up by two with 5 minutes left (A. Roger“Who Else”Needham). The question arose in everyone’s mind, can Mal beat Chun twice in the final minutes? He tried very hard on several occasions, but young Chun stood strong and turned away everything thrown at him, including a big stop with 13 seconds left to kill the game. One goal wouldn’t have made a difference at that point, but then again, none of the Raptors did either, at any point.
#1 Roger Needham; 3G, 2A, 9 PIMS (warning?)
#2 The defensive pairing of John Long and Jeremy Campbell (The main reason Mal only had one point)
#3 Chang Chun (the other reason)