Back from a weekend in Vegas, and what a weekend it was. Got to be the “hockey wife” and watch my gf and The Burninators (Strongbad reference) make it all the way to the finals. The Vegas Women’s Hockey Invitational (or whatever it’s called) had 6 divisions (each with about 5 teams). Lot’s of hockey all weekend long (total of 5 games in <70 hours!)
The best moments came in the Miracle like rematch in semi-finals. The Burninators played the Alaska Lynx for the second time in 24 hours. Their previous match-up was a depressing loss for The Burninators (4 nothing) and there was a lot of fear going into the semi-final game. By the end of the second period, the Lynx were still dominating, but Burninator goalie Cara was standing on her head (and other places) and keeping them in the game. Third period was different, as the Lynx had a short bench (2 lines only) and they started to get tired. In the middle of the third period there was a golden opportunity. An open goal with only a defender in site and the Lynx seemed to bury the puck in the net. By some stroke of luck (or deliberate effort) the puck stayed out of the goal, but since it was frozen by a defensive player, there was an automatic penalty shot. This could be the deciding goal in a 0-0 game. The Lynx put forth their MVP (#24 “red pants” as we called her) who attempted to get around Cara. It was not to be, and the entire place started cheering! So, after the third period, the score was still tied at 0-0. Turns out, the Burninator-Lynx game had started a good 20 minutes late, so by this time, the teams in the next game had already shown up to play and had seen the penalty shot.
And so, with the Harpies and BrokenHearts hockey teams watching (and the Harpies and BrokenHearts fans) the game went into the first full overtime. Both teams were dragging at this point (it was the second game for them that day). The Lynx continued to dominate and had several dynamite scoring opportunities, but so did the die-hard Burninators. While banging their hockey sticks on the boards, the Burninators maintained their energy and….well…held out. Cara continued to stand on her head and the game went into its second full overtime.
At this point, there were two entire hockey teams (waiting to play) standing by the glass cheering. Most of them had witnessed the domination of the Lynx and were starting to cheer on the Burninator goalie (support for the underdog). The Lynx were dragging and the Burninators were wasted. Heck, falls seemed to take even longer as even gravity was tired. Not too many scoring chances in that overtime, and with mercy it went down to a five on five shootout.
First two members of both teams buried the puck in the respective goalie. Third member of the Lynx has a beautiful pull to the right, shot across the crease and ding-dong hit the left post!!! A blessing. Excitement and cheers and the 4th member of the Burninator shootout skates down the ice. Fake left, cross right and gently through the five-hole of the Lynx goalie. Barely…oh so barely…does the puck skitter across the goal line, almost being stopped by all of the snow on the ice. It makes it just inside the left post and a scant 2 inches past the goal line. The 4th member of the Lynx buries the puck in Cara’s chest and the 5th member of the Burninators does the same. By this time the crowd is starting to shout Cara’s name (underdogs go!). The 5th and final Lynx skater heads down with the puck. Back and forth (this is “Orange Gloves”, aka “Maskless One”, a 6foot 3 skater with an incredible shot) she goes. She snaps her stick back and wings one….right into Cara’s chest.
For a moment I thought the Burninators were going to completely kill themselves as they exploded off the bunch without control (too tired for that!). What a win! What a game! It became the talk of the tournament and set the schedule back by 2 hours! The game finished around 7:30pm and they had to play in the finals at 8:30am the next day. They didn’t win in finals, but who cares…this ragtag team of true beginners and a few advanced skaters had gone further thany any single one of them could have imagined. They had become a team, and in doing so surpassed individual expectations.
Another interesting sidestory. Mary (aka “Stitches”) had gotten her hand sliced by a skate in the 2nd game. At the time she refused to be taken to the hospital, but later that night as she was watching her tendon move between flaps of skin, she grabbed a taxi and found a hospital to load her up with novacaine and 4 stitches. The next day Stitches found the boards with her knee, which swelled up like a grapefruit. Stitches played through 2 more games (including the long semi-final) like a champ. Visibly in pain, Stitches played the finals game and received the 2nd place trophy. As she was leaving the ice, she dropped the trophy and it broke into 3 pieces. Stitches gets my vote for MBA (Most Bad Ass).
Well, this entry is getting long…..but I had a freaking great time watching the gals play in Vegas. Sure, I didn’t drink (unless you count a single watered down Amaretto Sour at Thunder Down Under as a drink) and didn’t gamble, but I had a blast. Who needs the NHL anyway….those blokes are just a bunch of spoiled brats. Go watch an amateur tournament instead!