Borschland is participating in the XXIV NationStates.net World Cup of Hockey...
Special to the Borscher Sportteelegraaf
by Kadmus Greningen
The good news is that Borschland tallied four goals in its inaugural World Cup of Hockey game, a respectable number.
The bad? Our opponents scored six, the last being an empty-netter.
And although the fortress that is Heiko Moordfors was touched for five of the goals, Borschland should be proud of this effort, that with less than a minute to go in the last period, we were within a tally of the champions of the world.
I expect that newspapers all over Borschland and the Continent have been tempering expectations for this game, proud as we are of our hockey. But we should hold our heads high, and ready ourselves for the next game versus Semarland, for our effort never flagged. The men of Gyatso-Kai were stalwart when they needed to be, playing a game at times of almost praeternatural precision. At other times, they seemed to lose focus, knowing that this is the first in a long set of matches.
It might have been easy for the Flying Bison to ease up on the throttle after going up 3-0 in the first period on goals by Ishii, the veteran Tao, and Skirata. The Swans of Borschland were in their first match in this ultra-modern nation. They might in turn be forgiven for being blinded by the bright lights and deafening recorded music of the Sundari Times Forum. Or by the roar of 20,000 fans chanting their motto, "Vode An!" ("Brothers All!") over and over again.
But Chrojstenkaamps and Lindemoor, inspirers of the first order, must have worked some magic, for at the end of the second period, here we were, tiny Borschland, trailing 3-2 and looking like going for more. The goals were not pretty. In general, the play was muddled, as neither team played consistently.
Our first came on a rebound; Tjard Meern found himself in front of the goal when a six-player scrum allowed him to stuff the puck under Avatarian netminder Hotaka Zhao's skate. A general uproar indicated the opponents thought Meern had kicked the puck into the net. A video recording of the play (amazing invention, though not in my opinion a better witness than a human being) indicated Meern's trusty twig had indeed put the plug home.
The second goal was Ganesmund's, a wrist shot from the right point, and a prettier arrow never pierced the hide of a Flying Bison. The last period was see-saw, hotly contested though again not uniformly elegant. After Ishida scored with Ishii's assitance to make it 4-2, here was Joris Sudmaas cherry-picking in front of the goal and deflecting a cannon shot from Reinhardt over Zhao's glove. Not the way we usually play hockey in Borschland, but the rink was confining to say the least.
The defender Hiteki scored on a power play for Gyatso-Kai to put the home team up two goals with four minutes to play. And then Habel Baarda was tripped on a breakaway and awarded a penalty shot, which he converted with a typical Borschic feint and backhand flip.
5-4 with three minutes to go, then two, then one, then Moordfors was taken out when we won a faceoff in their zone. That is when Ito, their most skilled defender in my opinion, simply took matters into his own hands. When Ishii won the faceoff, Ito received the puck, sidestepped two Borschlanders and launched it spindling down-ice. It hit the post and went in.
In every way a game of ice hockey about which each team can be proud, and yet unsatisfied. The young goalie of Gyatso-Kai, Zhao, was never unsure, but perhaps a bit distracted. Yet he was brilliant at times and outplayed our Moordfors.
Reinhardt, for his part, got only one assist on his deflected his shot. Afterwards, he said that the arena and the ambience reminded him of what had been his dream, to play in the North American NHL. "I'm priviliged to play on this team and in a country that loves its hockey so much," he said.
We will go back to Borschland with a loss, but perhaps with a bit of respect on the world stage. The next game will be at our hallowed Te Rujnk in Staff Borsch, against Semarland. You may be sure the nation will all be there.