Championship: Rockets vs. Tigers March 6, 2004
Tigers Win Gold
By Tigers Captain Bob Glasscock
In a repeat of last season's D-8 Championship Game the Tigers took on our long-time nemesis, the Rockets on Saturday, March 6. The Rockets had soundly trounced us a few weeks earlier by a score of 4-0 so we knew this would not be an easy game by any means. By midweek, every available player had committed to play in the Big Game. On the day of the game, however, we learned that our chief defensive player, Gary Adams, had to opt out of the game. Conspiracy theories aside, it was decided that we would shuffle the line-up to make up for Gary's absence and shore up the D. In this instance all those extra players was a blessing as we were able to go into the game with three full lines and six D.
During the warm-up, Team Captain Bob Glasscock, made his triumphant return to the ice after recovering from a severe ankle injury. It was only to test his skating ability after a week off crutches, but it was positive sign and allowed him to better demonstrate some strategy for the upcoming contest.
With Bob safely back behind the bench and Patrick Farabaugh's "1-2-3-Go Tigers" cheer in the books, the puck was dropped and ... the Rockets scored the first goal ... 11 seconds into the game! Once again, conspiracy theories were cast aside as we wondered if a lack of adequate warm-up time for our goalie, Keenen Brown would lead to our undoing. We needn't have worried though. Keenen became a brick wall after that and the Tigers defense that had carried us to this point didn't disappoint as the team held the Rockets scoreless through the remainder of the First Period. Of course, the Rockets defense and goalie, Craig Sheil held the Tigers scoreless as well and the period ended with the score 1-0 Rockets despite the majority of the period being played in the Rockets' zone.
The Tigers got on the board at 11:24 in the second period as defenseman Rodney Newby, center Bill Leitner and wing Patrick Farabaugh combined for the teams' first score. 76 seconds later the Tigers bench went crazy as wings Laurie Woods and Dan Gieschen teamed up to make the score 2-1 and give the Tigers the lead.
Things got a bit chippy at this point as the Rockets went all out to get those points back. Perhaps a bit too chippy as the Rockets took a penalty toward the end of the second period resulting in a Tigers power play. Unfortunately, the Tigers failed to capitalize on the penalty and the period ended with a score of 2-1 Tigers.
Having broken down the Rockets scoring attack that allowed them to so easily defeat us on Valentine's Day, the Tigers continually clogged the Rockets passing lanes and kept them from getting into position for their attack. Surprisingly short shifts by the Tigers kept the team fresh and allowed them to hold off a strong Rocket assault going into the Third Period. Unfortunately, a botched line change resulted in the Rockets scoring their second goal of the game at 9:37 of the period to tie the score at 2-2.
17 seconds later the Tigers A Line of Bill Leitner, Patrick Farabaugh and the Tigers' scoring leader, Nick Gieschen combined on a sweet goal which gave the team back the lead with just over 9 minutes to play and a score of 3-2. Concentrating on taking the Rockets' most dangerous player, Brian Harrington, out of his game while continuing to stymie the Rockets offense, the Tigers took their lead down to 4:45. At this point center Brian Winkler was called for Tripping and the Rockets went on the Power Play. The resulting penalty-kill was a nail biter as the team was without one of their best centers and the Rockets went all-out to tie the game up. Several great saves by Keenen later the PP was killed and the teams were back at full strength.
With 2 minutes to go and their team down by 1 goal, the Rockets called time-out and pulled their goalie for the extra attacker. The Tigers took this opportunity to switch their lines so that their top two lines, the Money Line of Brian Winkler, Keith Champagne and Ari Warshawsky and the A Line could be on the ice to finish off the game. With 30 seconds to go, Nick Gieschen missed the open net, resulting in an icing call and a face-off deep in the Tigers zone. In a flurry of activity which had skaters diving to block shots and some of the toughest play of the whole game, the Tigers counted down the final 10 seconds with the team beating the Rockets by a final score of 3-2 to capture the team's first-ever Championship.
Every Tiger player contributed to this win by playing their best hockey of the season. Sure there were a few mistakes, but short shifts and a brilliant execution of a game plan learned moments before the game made it all happen As team captain, I couldn't be prouder of this team and these players.
Special recognition has to go the Defensive unit for this game: Debbie Bicknese, Johnny Fraser, Vickie Neilson, Rodney Newby, Johannes Wallmann and Reggie Wieczerzak, as well as to the Second Line of Jeff Adams, Dan Gieschen and Laurie Woods. Although the Third Line of Brian Winkler, Keith Champagne and Ari Warshawsky failed to score for the first time in ages, their forechecking and strong defensive play showed why they are the Money Line. The A Line of Bill Leitner, Patrick Farabaugh and Nick Gieschen came up big as always with special kudos to Bill for coming in late in the season to replace the injured Bob Glasscock and give the A-Line some extra pop. There aren't enough words to express how much we owe our goalie, Keenen Brown. Week after week, he keeps the team in games and always gives us a chance to win.
Thanks also to all the Tiger players who played a part in this special season, including Gary Adams, Matt Andersen, Judy Cobden, and Brad Wolchansky.