10,005 witnesses at the Arena Imperial in Altium Dacni saw a game for the ages, played throughout a snowstorm that occasionally became a blizzard, and one that will resonate throughout the rest of the Borschland Hockey League season.
Image found here.
The best of the best of Borschic forwards were stymied throughout the game by weather and by the iron defense of the bears, who gave up not a single penalty, while Borschland gave up one, an interference by Meechen’s Bartul van Abeele, which resulted in Bearland’s lone goal, a rebound off of Goaltender of the Cup Heiko Moordfors (1.6 GAA) that was shoveled in by Forward of the Cup Michael Angelbear (5 goals, 1 assist).
Meanwhile, Bearland’s goaltenders Gregory Gatekeeper, who played two periods, and Berkeley Crocker, who came in for the third and the shootout, between them turned back 37 shots on goal. The Bearland defense, meanwhile, blocked 15 more.
“We are gratified,” said Bearland coach Lawrence St. Laurence, who retained his composure, as befits civilized bears. The Bearish fans, as well, spent much of the post-game celebration congratulating the Borschic fans for a well-fought contest.
The score was 0-0 up until 4:17 was left in the third period, when Rjaward’s Gerd Zijterwoode of Rjaward finally broke through with a masterful wrist shot that threaded its way between two Bearish defenders and over Crocker’s blocker.
But then, only a minute later, van Abeele was called for a late hit on forward Man Grizzlyfaith, which resulted in the bear having to leave the contest with a concussion.
“That was uncivilized,” said defensebear Valiant Black of Dohmatische after the game. “You can be sure we’ll remember that.”
The remark was taken by some as a reference to a time when Black and his fellow Bearish internationals on the Dohmatische team would be back on Borschic ice against Meechen.
“A bear doesn’t take revenge,” said Clawson Rhododendron, Black’s teammate on Dohmatische. “But a bear takes some time before he forgives.”
The Vinasolan officiating crew awarded Bearland a penalty that would last the balance of the time in regulation, and Bearland lost no time attacking the Borschic zone. Only heroic stands from Meechen’s Wujbe Kappe and Te Staff’s Jeeluj Sudmaas kept the Bruins out of Moordfor’s net until 1:22 left in the game.
At that point, St. Laurence pulled Crocker from the game. There had been some question as to why he would change goalies when Gatekeeper had a shutout going, but the coach would not answer directly when asked, giving only a grunt and then “I have my reasons. Thank you for asking.”
A furious melee took place in front of the net on the ensuing faceoff, including what seemed to be a crosscheck from Kappe that was not called.
But Angelbear found the puck on his stick with :34 left and made no mistake.
The drama was not over. In the shootout, no one would have bet against Borschland, but Crocker seemed to have magic up his sleeve.
Habel Baarda scored on the first shot, and Angelbear on his, but Kai Ganesmund couldn’t get it past Crocker, who unexpectedly poke-checked the puck off of Ganesmund’s stick while leaving his cage a solid 12 feet.
“That is not what they (Bearish goaltenders) are taught to do,” Ganesmund said afterwards, and he ought to know, having appeared in seven Nations’ Cups in his illustrious 10-year career. "It was unexpected to say the least."
Grayson Mulebear found net on the third shot, which meant that it was all up to Rjawards’ Jens Klijnehoop. He shot it off of Crocker’s pads and then immediately complained that the pads were substantially larger than regulation.
The officials found the pads to be regulation-sized.
“He changed them before they looked,” Klijnehoop claimed.
But in the celebration after the game, Crocker said that the Swans’ sticks were uniformly too curved for regulation. “A lot of good it did them,” he said.
Good sportscreatureship won out in the end, with Borschland executive coach Steen Roothven putting hand to paw with St. Laurence as they stood on the podium with third-place finishers Vinasola (by virtue of their goal difference; there is no third-place game in the Nations’ Cup).
Crocker, when asked if he would be willing to play hockey in Borschland (he is currently in the Anvorian League), said “I never give up an opportunity to follow a bee,” which means that he would consider it.
Moordfors, for his part, congratulated the Bearish netminders on an excellent game. “Ice hockey is becoming more and more competitive on the Continent. We must be grateful for this.”