So when last we discussed the topic, my hockey teams had all been eliminated, and KC still had his Penguins in the NHL playoffs, while Laurie had St John in the Canadian Quebec League and Nashville also in the NHL tourney. And so it remains- an exhibition of how not to handle the puck gave Pittsburgh a 7-0 win against Ottawa while Nashville has a shot to make the finals with a win over Anaheim tonight. And St John won the Quebec League title, but that's not the end of the story for Laurie's best Canadian team. Or for me, as it turns.
See, Canada's Major Juniors are three semi-pro leagues with players ranging in age from mid-high school to "Going for my doctorate". And at the end of their season, they have an overall championship called the Memorial Cup. This is the first time I have paid attention this far into the season, so I wondered how they do a three-way tournament. As it happens, it is a four-team tourney, with the three champs being joined by the host team of the tournament. And when I looked to see who the host was this year, guess who I found?
My own Windsor Spitfires from the Ontario League, who had a great regular season, but blew a 3-0 game lead against the London Knights, who in turn became prey for the Erie Otters, who have the biggest scorer in North America in Blackhawk prospect Alex DeBrincat, who scored 65 regular season goals. So I was back in business, and celebrated by knocking off Laurie's favored St John 3-2 while Erie won its first game over Western League champs Seattle Thunderbirds.
Last night, I got to watch Windsor's second game in the round-robin against Seattle. Remember me mentioning the earlier Pittsburgh game and the "exhibition on how not to handle a puck?" I hadn't seen jack yet...
Early in the game my Spits scored first. And 22 seconds later, a Seattle forward was playing around behind his own net, got his pocket picked by a Windsor kid, who threw it out front, and another slammed it past the shell shocked 16-year-old rookie goalie for Seattle that the announcers had been bragging up the whole pre-game.
And 17 seconds after that, another sleeping Seattle player got his pocket picked right in front of the net, the thief slammed it past the stunned goalie, and in 38 seconds Windsor had a 3-0 lead.
The kid goalie was pulled for his more veteran backup, who survived the rest of the first period. And in the second, Seattle actually scored to narrow things to 3-1. But almost immediately thereafter, a scramble in front of the Seattle net seemed to break up, and goalie #2 went behind the net to play the puck. And got HIS pocket picked, and Windsor swiftly put the puck in the now-empty net for a 4-1 lead.
Early in the third period, Laurie gets up to go to the bathroom. This is mentioned to give you a sense of timing. No more does the door shut when the strangest goal I have ever seen occurred. The Windsor player was to the goalie's left a way off when he fired a rising shot. It glanced off the raised stick of a fellow Spitfire. It careened off the FACE of a Seattle defenseman and dropped. Seemingly about to go wide, the goalie let down his guard, and the puck hit the far post and went in. 5-1 Windsor.
Three minutes later, just before Laurie left the bathroom, Windsor scored again, and it would end 7-1.
I have honestly seen some of the stupidest goals ever in my life this playoff season. Goalies misplaying things, forwards dropping off pucks to teammates that aren't there. But the three banker (credited to Graham Knott, the stick that was bank #1) had to be the most amazing BAL goal I've ever witnessed. And it was even better than my memory said. Here you can watch for yourself- it actually hit off a Seattle stick, then Knott's arm, then the defender's face, and then went in!