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NZHL Opening Night Recap

Lots of action on opening night. I sat down after my games and watched everywhere else and said to myself for just this night only I think it would be a really cool idea that I would give a full breakdown of what went down around the league. I will breakdown each team matchup from the night and give my full report on all of them. So let us get to it boys.

CHARLESTOWN CHIEFS vs AVERAGE JOES

Game 1: Chiefs get it started early with the first goal less than 5 minutes into the action before a lag out and the great guy that Boone is negates the penalty for the other team. Game gets started again and they kill 5 minutes of the clock before real playing starts to commence. Chiefs start taking it to the Joes as Giroux, Terry and Boone get their names all over that score sheet in the first two periods. The score was 8-2 at one point for Charlestown with over 3 quarters of the game played. Chiefs start to get lazy with their defensive play and the Joes score 4 unanswered thanks to a large part to Yates who took advantage of the poor gap control and aggressive pinching by the Chiefs defenders. Unfortunately the comeback would not be completed as the Chiefs would hold on to an 8-6 victory.

Game 2: Same start as the first game Chiefs offense starts to take it to the Joes early going up 2-0 early into the game. Joes don’t lay down and they tie the game up at 2. The Chiefs will get a 5 minute power play but are unable to make the Joes pay for their big mistake. Chiefs will score one before the 1st period ends and take a 3-2 lead into the break. Chiefs make it 4-2 early in the second before the Joes come firing right back with 3 straight goals of their own, and woooof the Chiefs defenders looking like they asleep at the wheel as Yates is getting stretch passes to the open center ice with a wide open lane to walk right in on Dethmaul. Joes never looks back as it becomes the Yates show as he is wide open with nothing but goalie in his sights after he parts the sea numerous times. Furry and Lusky are not on the same page as both continue to play inside the blueline and fail to read the Joes transition attack. Final score 9-6 for the Average Joes.

Giroux was exactly as advertised being involved in all but one of the Chiefs goals all night. My overall take from watching these 2 games is that both these teams need to clean it up when it comes to their game without the puck. No doubt the Chiefs offense can score a lot of goals as they put in 14 in 2 games but they walked away tonight with a -1 goal differential as they surrendered 15. Average Joe’s also scored a lot of goals tonight and without Brandon in the line up but the offense looked very one dimensional with no rhythm or cycle, it was stretch it out the zone and try to beat the defenders with speed. It was only night 1 but that was some sloppy hockey even by EA standards.

TOTTENHAM TRUCKS vs CASTERLY ROCK LIONS (Featured Games of the Night)

Game 1: Two solid teams go at it off the draw and it is the trucks who will get the first good looking scoring chances in the opening period but solid saves by Samson keeps the Trucks off the board. The Lions start putting the pressure on themselves as they start to direct the puck to the goal with a flurry of chances but then can not get one to go past pens. Lions get the first power play of the game but they can only muster a 1T shot from the point that Pens have no problem tracking. The first period will remain scoreless with the Lions outshooting their opponents 6-4. Second kicks off and once again both teams are playing a tight checking low high danger opportunity type of game. Unfortunately an aggressive play by the Lions left defender leads him to a hit that wipes him out on the transition which springs the trucks out the zone on an odd man rush, and it becomes hammer time for Miller as he makes no mistake after receiving the puck in his wheelhouse 1-0 trucks. Ploop and the boys continue to fight back, getting the puck down low behind the defenders and getting  close chances but unable to find a way to solve Pens yet. Trucks find a way to get the puck behind the net and a defensive collapse as 3 players are caught around the goal line as the center is left wide open at the top between the dots and gets a gift that he snipes clean. 2-0 after 2. Lions keep pressing as they are starting to out chance the Trucks in the third but it is too little too late as Trucks will pot their third with less than 5 to go and it is all over for this one. The Lions will end Pens shutout bid as they get a late powerplay under a minute left and will score with 11 seconds remaining and will add another 7 seconds later. Trucks win 3-2.

Game 2: Lions come out hard as they get more aggressive, flipping the puck deep and putting pressure on the defenders. Both teams set into their tight space game and no goals were scored after the 1st period. More of the second to start as both goalies kept the door shut for their teams. Trucks will take a penalty 11 minutes in. Stump will let a clean wrister from up high go and it finds a way into the net for the Lions first lead of the night. Lions looking they might be in control but an errand stick infraction puts the trucks up a man. Lions will kill the penalty but shortly after Miller will go hammer time again with a body in front screening Samson as he is unable to see the laser beat him glove side. Both teams will start the third period tied at 1. Game is still tied but with under 8 minutes left as Willy will find some space to beat his man and finish with a backhand on the breakaway. Sadly it becomes all trucks after that as they will score 3 more goals within the last 5 minutes. Miller will top off his hat trick under 30 seconds to go. Trucks win 5-1.

The Rock Lions I feel did not play a horrible game at all they were able to enter the zone and get into the danger areas at times putting up a combined 37 shots on Pens all night but only able to score 3. Pens was incredible tonight coming up with big saves in key moments of the games. For the Trucks who we praise for how defensive and tight this team will be, I am sure they will be happy with their goaltender no doubt but might be a little disappointed with themselves for giving up so many chances as they did. Rock Lions have speed to create offense but things I noticed they did some of and should do more is work that revolving cycle down low in the corner and behind the net. It just was one of those nights for the Lions and eventually the puck will start to go in more often than none in the future ahead. Trucks’ 2 way game looked really good but needed to be a little more efficient on their backchecking as the Lions were not having any problems with entries into the zone. A big huge shout out to J moss for giving us his time to do a live play by play broadcast for these games.

ALCOHOOLIGANS VS MUD DOGS

Game 1: Man it was a beautiful sight to see the Mud Dogs uniforms back in action on the ice it brought a smile to me. The game gets off to a roaring start as both teams begin with a fast back and forth pace. Mud Dogs will strike first as Gagoots comes down the wing toward the right dot and sends a crisp tape to tape pass to the opposite winger who has a gift into a wide open net. Hooligans will answer back real quick as a mad scramble in front of Killswitch will happen and the puck will squirt out of the pile for the tap in. The pace still continues to sustain itself but just before the period ends Mud Dogs win a puck battle down low and are able to find Gagoots open back door with under 2 seconds to go to make it 2-1. Hooligans controlled most of the period with leading in TOA and shots but found themselves down by 1 after 1. Both teams continue to play a run and gun style game as back and forth once again. Mud Dogs draw a power play 4 minutes in. Shrimp will make a nice glove save on the Dogs only good scoring chance with the man advantage. Teams continue to trade chances with one another for the rest of the frame. Shrimps squad get a promising chance before the 2nd ends but they are unable to get a good shot off on a look close to the goalie. 2-1 to start the third and Jakebuff creates a turnover at the blueline as he is all alone but aggressive diving poke check by Killswitch turns away the dangerous opportunity. Just before the 10 minute mark the Mud Dogs will pick up a loose puck and direct it into a crowd that is in front of Shrimp and take a deflection into the goal for a 3-1 lead. Hooligans will earn a power play with 9:58 to go in the game and capitalize on it. A failed attempt to exit the puck out results in a wide open attacker for the easy backhand bury. Hooligans put on the pressure to get the tying goal but they will not be able to get another and the Dogs seal it away with an insurance marker as Gagoots will come down the wing without any defender putting a stick or body on him and sniping a top corner shortside over the glove of shrimp with 22.5 left in the game. Mud Dogs win 4-2.

Game 2: Not a hectic of a pace as Game 1 to start but both teams still finding their chances with the puck in the low areas of the attacking zone. Mud Dogs will draw the first penalty of the game but Shrimp is able to thwart away a few good looks by Masi and the boys. Hooligans will later get their first man advantage opportunity but they too will fail in cashing in as well. Hooligans look like they might make it 1-0 before the horn as they put a few shots on goal leading to a loose puck slowly sliding to the goal line but no one is able to get one last touch on the puck as the period comes to an end with a scoreless tie. Second period is away and Shrimp continues to make sure he does not give up the first tally of the game making a few good saves on hard shots by the Dogs front 3. It will be the Hooligans who will strike first as Toe Dragons will send a wrister on net from the point into traffic that finds a stick for the deflection goal. Hooligans have their first lead of the night. Mud Dogs try to respond back just the Hooligans did last game after the first goal was scored but they can not get the contest nodded up as just under 5 minutes to go the defender ShortyLose takes a puck and goes coast to coast untouched and buries it far side to take a 2 goal lead. Hooligans seem like they have the game under control until the earlier hero Shorty coughs up a pizza to the LW who goes in all alone to make it 2-1 giving the Mud Dogs life just before the end of the period. A lag out will ensue and they will need to restart the game, very unfortunate for the Hooligans as they just gave up a goal and now will have to kill a penalty to start the third. Shrimp does a stellar job making save after save on the penalty kill as the Dogs push to even the contest. Time becomes an enemy to the Mud Dogs now as the first period accelerated clock starts to tick down when the game returns to 5 on 5. Poor defensive assignments were missed and the Hooligans will come down the wing with so much open ice to the net and make it 3-1 and now the hill becomes bigger to climb for Masi and his boys. The game is pretty much set and done as a 4th goal is tacked on by Shrimps guys with just around 6 minutes left in the game. The Mud Dogs will fall in game 2 to a score of 4-1.

Great start to Game 1 for the Mud Dogs as they get the first goal and look very solid in clogging up the center ice. Defensive end though was not as sharp for them in both games as they continued to make mistakes leaving guys open with lots of real estate to work with as well as having too many men caught inside the opposing blueline on the transition.. Killswitch was sharp in my opinion and was the victim of some unfortunate bounces and bad reads by his team in front of him. Maserati was out done on the dot which is very uncommon because he was a force on faceoffs last season. Not too much cycle and movement with the puck as the offense was to skate it deep and find an open man, more control and puck possession in the attacking zone should be a priority moving forward. Alcohooligans did not exactly put their biggest guns on the ice tonight but were still able to create some offense and goals. Shorty had a really nice end to end goal but should be a lot better moving the puck with pressure on him to his D partner or out the zone as that was a horrible moment and could have turned the game the other way. Shrimp made some really good saves tonight and kept his team in both games and was a big reason they were able to get a split tonight. Really would like to see how the very top line of the Alcohooligans will look in a game.

DUMPSTARS vs MAKE A WISH

Game 1:  Puck is dropped and both teams are strong in being tough to all allow any clean entries into the zone as not much is generated offensively for both squads. MAW gets a good looking chance as Jon fires a puck from the goal line that pops out to Mikey but is unable to cash it in. Obi gets a nice one timer feed up high but no traffic in front makes it easy for the tendy to kick it away. With 4:12 left in the 1st it will be MAW that strikes first on a beautiful spinorama move from Jon then the feed to the front and in Mikeys wheelhouse at the top of the blue paint, lovely goal 1-0. MAW takes a 1-0 lead into the locker room. Dumpstars waste no time responding in the middle frame as Obi will send a low wrister on net that gets deflected and folks the game is tied less than 2 minutes played in the 2nd. Dumpstars put on 7 straight shots and Squirt is up to the test  before the MAW record one again however it results in a goal as Mikey once again puts some stank on it from the hash marks on another nice feed beating the goalie clean to take the lead back at 2-1. Halfway through the period MAW are unable to add some insurance on the power play and later on Obi will get an EA gift when he puts a messy looking shot on net that will bounce off a defender and in behind squirtshirt to tie the game at 2. Game is even to start the third but it won’t last long as MAW takes a lazy tripping penalty and the Stars pot one early on the powerplay. MAW starts to open it up more but trades chances as they push to get the game all squared up. Squirt starts to close the door and avoids to let the next one in eventually leading to Mikey once again from the same spot as goal #2 as he gets all of that one tee perk from a gorgeous pass by Kempe and the hats come flying with 2 minutes to go. MAW takes a penalty with 30 seconds left and could be costly but MAW do kill it in sudden death however shortly after Nero will get his hat trick as no perk is needed putting the cross ice feed top corner to give the Stars the extra point. Solid game to watch and a tight contest. Dumpstars take it 4-3 in OT. 

Game 2: It is MAW who comes out ready to go as they are getting most of the chances early on with shots from everywhere in the zone. Dumpstars are looking slow on their feet out the gate but their goaltender is able to weather the onslaught of the MAW for the first half of the period. Stars start to get going and they are on the board first as they are able to carry the puck between the dots and the center goes bar down on the netminder for the 1-0 lead. Dumpstars continue to pour it on and Led gets his second just a couple minutes after. MAW continue to hold as the attack keeps coming but they manage to find themselves getting a chance to cut the lead in half just before the period ends but it remains 2-0 at the break. MAW starts to push the tempo when the puck drops again as they get a great one on one chance with the goalie but it is put aside. They get a couple more good looks but nothing comes of it which then results in Ledvinka getting the Natty Hatty as he will bury a rebound in front shortly after. MAW won’t lay as they will get another good chance to get on the board but once again they are turned away. This game becomes the Ledvinka game as he will get his 4th on a great feed from Nero with under 7 to go in period 2. The hill started to get more insurmountable as MAW went to the dressing room down 4-0 with 20 minutes left to play. It gets worse as Led will get his 5th point of the contest setting up Nero at the goaline with the goal. All dumpstars tonight in Game 2 as Nero finishes a turnover on a sweet toe drag release (insert coach chippy voice). MAW will finally break the goose egg as the Dumpstars take a penalty with under 6 to play and Jon will walk into the high slot and pick the corner for a nice goal and continue to celebrate like a douche who scored the winner in OT, poor display of character when your team is down big in the game lol. Dumpster gets it right back though quickly as Led will once again set up Nero and its 7-1. MAW will add a couple to give themselves a tiny bit of positive out of a trash performance in Game 2 but they are blown out and the home fans are sent home frustrated only getting a point of a possible 4 tonight. Stars trounce the competition 8-3

Game 1 was the best game I watched all night hands down out of all the 10 I saw. Great action back and forth and stellar goaltending on both sides. Nice goals and big hits, the game was a treat to watch so I will not try to pick a part of what I thought was a well played game by both teams but for the second game where do I begin?. MAW’s defensive miscues just kept adding up too much as forwards were left wide open for great chances all game. MAW were looking strong and had the best chances out the gate but failure to take advantage of the ice being tilted in the first 10 minutes can sometimes be a momentum killer to your own team. Once the Stars were able to possess the puck they went to work and often. I know it is only night 1 but I said in my power ranking that the MAW’s top offensive line if you were to stack it up to some of the powerhouses offensive firepower how would it fair?. Well small sample size but their front 3 were outworked and outperformed by a line that was better then them and there are other lines who are just like this. Not doubting MAWS ability to score this season but how many times are they going to break games wide open compared to squeaking out close 1 goal wins?. As for the Stars the offense looked great. Odin was very sharp in net. Ledvinka and Nero had themselves a night and the Stars had to battle for the OT win in the first match but cruised along and never looked back the rest of the way. Great performance for the Dumpstars. 

AREA 51 VS SMOKIN BEERZ

Game 1: I am between the pipes so I get the best view of the action in front. Shieldzzy is on the ice for the puck drop and the game is underway. Area 51 waste no time executing the game plan in making sure that the reigning Calder winner has no time and space with the puck as he is suffocated on the wing by Hoots and Oddguy. Both teams exchange a couple good chances but Nicky and myself turn them away. Beerz will take a penalty early on and the Aliens get to work on the powerplay. Aliens will score a goal off a play that bounces off Hoots skate in the crease. The refs will go upstairs but after further review it was determined there was no distinct kicking motion and the goal will stand, 1-0 aliens 12 minutes into the game. 70 seconds later  Hoots gets a breakways but Nicky will come out to challenge poking the puck away but unfortunately in the process will direct the biscuit on the tape off Oddguy trailing behind who has a wide open 6×4 to look at, 2-0 Aliens in the first. Aliens keep it coming as a minute later Kush feeds a nice pass with 3 beers defenders in the area into an open hole where Moose is able to meet it first and will let it go to put the away team up 3-0. Beerz are all out of place as defensive mistakes prove costly in the opening frame. Not a start to remember for Nickys squad as they were out shot 8-1 and only 44 seconds of offensive zone time to the Aliens 3:49. I see my first good test in the second as Shieldz is down the wing and is able to get a shot on the short side but Oddguy does a great job and does not let him have a great angle to shoot at I am able to stay close to the post and smother it for a whistle. Right off that draw the puck is immediately possessed by Moose and he goes end to end but Nicky is able to stay with him to his backhand. The puck is moving forward by the Beerz and it becomes loose moving toward my goal and Shieldzzy gets an opening to pursue it but with no room in close to collect it and get a good shot away I decide to sprawl down and take everything low away as he is unable to get the tough backhand off the ice on his attempt. I am having myself quite an easy first game I admit as the Aliens continue to play a perfect hockey game in front of me giving no room or space for the Beerz to do anything on me and Aliens bury another one with 6 seconds to play and we take a 4-0 lead with one period left to go. Beerz has only 3 shots in 40 minutes of play and less than 2 minutes on the attack. Shieldzzy is a non factor at this point but nobody is doing anything offensively for NickyPatts as he sees 14 shots in 2 periods. Third period is off and I finally get a good test as Shieldzz will rip a shot with zing that I kick but goes to another attacker and I am unable to gather the rebound and stop play. Aliens start to go in lockdown mode as they play the puck possession game looking to just wind the time down and get the win. Aliens will take a penalty with 6 minutes left and the Beerz will get their first real moment of the game to do something offensively. My shutout is over as TP will direct a puck from the blue line that I go down to anticipate a possible tip but the pucks momentum is stopped in a pile of players and I am caught down in the butterfly and Squid is able to find the loose puck and put it past me glove high, My goalie makes a great effort but is unable to get a piece of it 4-1. No more moments transpire in the game and the Aliens come away with dominating defensive performance only giving up 5 shots on net. Aliens win 4-1.

Game 2:  Nicky is not happy and starts to make changes to the lineup and pulls himself out of the net and goes to right wing in hopes of a different game for the offense. Gurkle is scratched and Leblanc is swapped from RW to RD and Pizzle goes in net as the Beerz look to have a better game out of the team. The Beerz do show a better start to the game as they look way more engaged but they continue to struggle to enter the zone as they look lost on the breakouts. Pizzle makes 2-3 big time saves early on to keep the Beerz tied. Beerz actually gets a little zone time and starts to look for an opening. TP finds a wide open Nicky along the goal line and he rips a hard shot but I am able to get to it with my glove and freeze play. Beerz are able to draw a call and they start to get a little momentum in the 1st. They start to direct everything at the net but the Aliens do a great job blocking shots in front of me, they eventually will get a bounce go their way and Shieldzzy is in alone on me but I stay to his forehand and get the glove save again with 3 seconds left in the powerplay. Kush shortly comes out the box and the Aliens charge up the ice where he will finish a cross crease feed from Moose and the Aliens score the first goal of the game again. Crushing for the Beerz as they were looking better this period then all last game but found themselves down once again. Aliens will net another but not before the Refs review for another distinct kicking motion lol. Aliens take a 2-0 nothing lead after 1. Only 2 shots for their hard work but almost 2 minutes of zone time to show for the Beerz. Both goalies having a rest as teams are back and forth with each other taking turns with the puck but no chances coming of it lol. 8 minutes to, Aliens take a penalty and the Beerz get their second man advantage. Nothing generates except a rebound chance that I have most of the room covered and hits me in the chest. No goals in the middle frame and we are still 2-0 going to the third. Shots are 8-5 and the Beerz are leading with a second more of attack time with 4:09 but have not found the twine. It only takes 28 seconds for Area 51 to go up 3-0 when Kush sends a missile to the net but the goalie kicks it out front, No Beer defender around to take the man or the puck and Pizzle is fishing it out of his net off of Mooses blade. Once again I lose the shutout bid as Squid puts a shot off the outside post but EA physics are flawless and the puck bounces forward instead of back to the corner and bounces off Odd who is coming to the paint to anticipate a rebound or pass. My goalie decides to practice his training for if you are ever on fire to stop drop and roll technique for some reason and it goes in hahaha. Shieldzzy is having a frustrating night only having one point at this time and no space or time to get his game going. Aliens add a 4th and Shieldzzy is frustrated and takes a 5 minute major and his night is done. Aliens win 4-1

I only saw 13 shots all night. My night could not have been easier as Area 51 was a solid 2 way unit in both games. Shotsy and Odd did an amazing job keeping everything to the outside and not letting any odd man rush chances at all. Kush, Moose and Hoots were solid all night and they may have only scored 8 in 2 games they could have had more if it wasn’t for amazing saves by Nicky and Pizzle tonight. For Nickys team it was forgettable all games all night. The captains really need to figure out when Shieldzzy is on the ice what line works the best for him to get him open space and create chances for him. He is a winger with lots of speed and loves to get those passes when he cuts into the open gaps. Forcing the puck to him while he is still at the line is not the strategy. The breakout game needs a major adjustment as well. You had 3 forwards sit at the blue line while the defender skated it up only to pass it to a guy who was basically covered. Area 51 was really suffocating the center ice and sometimes just putting the puck deep and putting pressure on the defenseman can sometimes create a little momentum in games but the Beerz were chasing the game all night and hopefully they have a quick turnaround in their next games.

There you go guys this took a while but It was well worth it to see my work after. I think If I am going to do this again I might just record some audio of the breakdown hahah anyways hope your legs are not completely numb on the pooper with this extensive sit down material lol. Anyways take care everybody and good luck in all your games tonight.

 Sandin out. 

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