What’s that, this game was almost three months ago? Uhhh… oops. But hey, I once wrote up an exhibit at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame three years after the fact, so let’s just roll with this and get on to it.
When last we left the 2012 NZIHL regular season, the Botany Swarm had broken a losing streak of mumblelookletsjustnotthinkaboutitokay by defeating the West Auckland Admirals 6-3 in one of the more exciting games of the season, destroying the Admirals’ hope of a season sweep.
The final game for both Auckland teams – and the final NZIHL regular season game full stop – saw a rematch on the Monday night, contrary to the usual Saturday-Sunday scheduling out at the Avondale rink, and it certainly made my work day go faster to have hockey to look forward to at the end. With a frankly stunning six game misconducts having been handed out on the Sunday night, both teams would be working with a short bench, a factor which would affect the injury-ravaged Swarm far more acutely, and one which would certainly appear to have impacted the outcome of the game.
The eventual score was 6-4 to the Admirals, as they came back from a 3-1 deficit and closed out their season with a home victory. And due to the excellent efforts of Slapshot Productions, this game is actually available for viewing on YouTube. [Warning: video will autoplay!] I haven’t had a chance to sit down and watch it in full myself yet, but I plan to do so and then revisit this post to see what other observations – or changed ones! – I might want to add after a chance to review.
The Swarm had the clear advantage through the first period, with KC Ball and Andrew Hay scoring to take Botany to a 2-0 lead, before Frazer Ellis was able to pot a short-handed goal in the last two minutes to get the Admirals on the board.
The Swarm looked strong initially going into the second, stretching out to a two goal lead again on the back of an Ian Wannamaker goal at even strength, but the Admirals were able to put extra pressure on in the latter half of the period, with Edward Commons, Ryan Blouin and Sam Moses all scoring goals to give the Admirals the lead going into the third period.
The Admirals’ domination on the scoreboard continued, with Ellis scoring his second, and Gareth McLeish icing it with a powerplay goal with three minutes remaining. The Swarm were able to get one more in the final frame, with Keegan Harnett scoring on the power play with just under three minutes remaining, but weren’t able to close the gap any further.
Despite the loss, the Swarm made a valiant effort in what was the closest thing to a war of attrition on ice that I’ve ever seen. I have to commend the team for the clear demonstration of discipline and intensity of their effort, as there really was no point where they gave up on the game. It also has to be mentioned that by the end of the game they were down to ten skaters in total, and played the majority of the game with only four defensemen after Maxime Bettez – who had been playing forward that game anyway – was injured in the first period, and Sam Boniface was given a game misconduct in the third period. I’ve never wished for the ability to easily examine TOI in the NZIHL more. Damn, guys. That looked exhausting.
To conclude, and speaking as a thoroughly partisan observer — while it sucked out loud to lose this one, I think the fact the game was as close as it was (and that Botany held the lead for just over half the game!) really does speak well for the team, and I could not have been prouder of them.
Better luck next year, guys.
As usual, after the jump I’ll go into a bit more detail on the play-by-play. Reading it in the voice of your favourite commentators is totally optional.