While I'd love to say tonight was just a repeat of last night, it wasn't. Tonight's game was an extension of last night's slugfest between the Jr. Blues and the Chill. The two teams that had unfinished business last night created yet more unfinished business.
The first period started out almost exactly like the previous game. Springfield managed to keep Coulee Region trapped in their own zone for most of the period. A hooking penalty by Shayne McLaughlin at 5:00 was killed off quickly, and the Jr, Blues' Paul Byrne and the Chill's James Hughes went to the box at 10:18 for concurrent minors. Both of those penalties were killed off. It seemed once again to go to a tied period after Springfield couldn't capitalize on Tommy Miller's interference penalty at 13:59, but David Ripple (the fight opponent to Springfield's Stewart Bell last night) managed to fire off a pass from Miller right into the net at 19:34 past starting goalie Caleb Neal. The period ended with the score 0-1 in favor of the Chill. Again, you could be forgiven for thinking it would run exactly like last night at this point.
Springfield decided to take a little bit of last night's playbook and open up a can of whoopass in the second period. Five different scorers lit up Coulee Region's starting goalie, Greg Ogard. Ethan Nauman fired the first goal at 4:12, followed shortly by Shayne McLaughlin at 5:57. A high sticking penalty by Coulee Region's Ben Gislason at 9:05 allowed Mike Williams to sink a power play goal at 10:23, assisted by fellow Jr. Blues Ruslan Pedan and Gavin Tufte. About seven minutes later, Gavin Tufte wasn't able to score a close-in shot, so he grabbed the puck before Ogard could freeze it and sank a goal just past Ogard's right foot at 17:33. Assists were awarded to Ethan Nauman and defenseman Cody Kohn. At 18:28, Jr. Blues winger Alex Bonito found his afterburner setting and rushed in to score the fifth goal with assists from Tyler Rehm and Dominic Valencia.
At the start of the third period, assuming the Chill were down and out would be a major mistake for those watching the game. Ogard was replaced by the goalie who lost last night's game for the Chill, Aaron Davis. Matt Blomquist scored a goal at 1:54. followed by an unassisted goal by Tate Rusk at 2:34 to bring the Chill closer to tying the game. The last goal made good use of some momentary confusion among the Jr. Blues and they found themselves out of position. Last night's scoring line of Josef Pontasch, Kyle Cook and Chris Sitler made their contribution as Pontasch capitalized on Tommy Miller's second penalty of the night for another power play goal.
At 15:28 in the third period, a puck managed to scoot by Caleb Neal as he lay under a pile of Coulee Region bodies. The Jr. Blues lost the services of Ruslan Pedan for the rest of the evening as he spent time pummeling Micah Ranum into the glass, having been roughed by Ranum. Ranum received a two-minute roughing penalty at 15:17. At 15:28, the scrum that resulted in the goal resulted in misconducts handed out to Kyle Cook, Paul Byrne (who also was sent off the ice) for the Jr. Blues and to David Ripple and Jakob Batcha. All four also received roughing double minors and Batcha received a face mask major and subsequent game misconduct, allowing the Jr. Blues to end the game on the power play.
If that last paragraph seems confusing to you, good. I still had to doublecheck the box score to figure out what happened. All I remember seeing was Neal not being able to move back to try to stop the puck, with all heck breaking loose after that. Despite a strong showing in the third period, the Jr. Blues held on to win the game 6-4. The Jr. Blues now have a record of 3-6-0 while the Chill are now 4-4-0. Springfield's next game is against their constant nemesis (and current league leaders) the St. Louis Bandits on Friday Oct. 7 at 7pm at the Hardees IcePlex in Chesterfield. Will the Jr. Blues be able to pull further out of their cellar-dwelling status by defeating their bete noire et bleu? I really hope so. The team seems to respond well to acting coach Joe Dibble. They've been on fire the past two nights and if they're lucky, they'll keep the fire burning all week during practice. Goodness knows there's plenty of fuel to burn.