Week 25 results: Borschland Hockey League

Bhl_away_jerseyA new week of hockey just before the Flowering Branch Cup final pitted the finalists Holtzlund and Rjaward against each other in the mountain city of Erichels, and it was as close as advertised. In the Grand Final of the Cup, of course, there will be no ties. If the score is knotted at the end of regulation, they’ll play 10 minutes of overtime, first goal wins. If there’s no winner after OT, it’ll be a shootout.

Image: Borschland national selection uniforms.

As Meenesanne and Tarlunz have already played each other twice this year, they were off this week, mutually choosing not to play a friendly, which meant that Rjaward and Tarlunz now both have a game in hand against Holtzlund.

3 Holtzlund v. Rjaward 3: Home ice advantage did not help the Axe Men as much as they wanted it, despite a screaming crowd of 7,489 gathered around Te Krick, the hockey rink known as “The Cove.” It was a see-saw game the entire time, with Holtzlund scoring one goal in every period and Rjaward expending most of its energy in the second, when they took a brief 3-2 lead on a goal by Christian Zeeberg. But they came out flat in the third period, Jens Gladweel took a high-sticking penalty, and Saruman Gloostick converted the ensuing power play with an elevated shot past Lemdeveel Schmeechtpujtr, who was spelling Franck Pharendaal in goal. Rjaward coach Norbert Grimm said about his decision to start Schmeechtpujtr: "It was time for Lem to have a turn in goal. We're comfortable with either goalie, to be honest." Holtzlund coach Dirk Eechen was steamed afterwards. "That last high stick wasn't the only penalty they had, but it seemed as if the officials were content to let it be."

3 Meechen v. Lojren 1: Lojren lost its fifth in a row, while Meechen kept pace with the leaders in the championship. Meechen got goals from two defensemen, Voga Terkel and Bartul van Abeele. Welneth Ungarth seemed his unbeatable self: Lojren’s Sander Glossamer had the lone goal for Lojren and would’ve had more if Ungarth had not made several unbelievable saves.

4 Bjaward v. Sajbell 3: Not quite enough yet again for the Sea Gods. Bjaward won for the first time in six games, having gone 0-2-3 before last night. Bjaward's offense woke up, as centerman Alex Meesenhammer had a hand in all four goals, scoring 2 and assisting on 2. 17-year old Antonius Udelhooven scored his first goal in the BHL, a nifty tic-tac-toe with Man Grizzlyfaith and Ruud Beecker.

3 Te Staff v. Dohmatische 2: Yet again, Dohmatische’s tough defense was involved in controversy. With Te Staff pressing in the third period and the score tied 2-2, defender Parn Uptek was called for tripping. That was too much for coach Azofer Teekeetl, who apparently said something that upset the officials. He was assessed a major penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct, and Te Staff converted the resulting 5 on 3 advantage into the winning goal, a rebound put back by Christoff Anselm at 3:09 left in the game.

2 Atterische v. Wrischer 2: A quiet game for two middle-of-the-table teams that were hoping for more this season. Atterische had a goal from bench forward Bram van Brick, his first of the year, to preserve the tie.

2 Bevinlunz v. Onatten 0: Heiko Moordfors recorded his 50th career shutout as the Merchantmen won the Battle of the Seaports. Moordfors had little to do, making 24 saves. Roger Wijkenschaud had a goal for Bevinlunz, and Tomas St.-Ambroos put in an empty-net goal for insurance at the end of the game.

2 Matexipar v. Sichebach 1: Matexipar played to the smallest crowd of the season, 6,354, as Iron Stick fans showed their displeasure with the team’s performance by staying away from the rink. Sigiswald Zberg got goal number 16 for Mat-X, tops on the club.

OFF: Tarlunz, Meenesanne


Who will win the Flowering Branch Cup 336 NR?

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When you look out at the hockey rink below the bluff, the spit of land that closes it off from the Borschland River, the houses and business and yacht harbors in the distance across that river, you understand why it is the supreme destination for all Flowering Branch Cup finalists.

The Borschland River with te Rijngk in background right. Image by Richard Ley from Pixabay

You also understand why Te Staff has won so many of these Cups. It is, after all, the Citymen’s home ice.

But it is an iconic place nevertheless, the largest rink by attendance in the nation. Over 10,000 can squeeze their way in here, depending on how many stand on that spit across the way.

The pale winter sun sets early, off towards the city of Erichels in the northwest, from where the Axe Men of Holtzlund have already come. They’ve had their first skate this morning. Confident, loose, a set roster with everyone contributing.

The Cattle Drivers of Rjaward come in tomorrow. They’ve been working out on their own rink, dubbed Te Coepeen, or The Corral. Regular telegrams come in from the press.

“We’re ready.” Coach Norbert Grimm, a veteran of Te Staff, who was in goal for six Flowering Branch Cup finals in his 12-year career with the Citymen.

“We like our chances.” Star centerman Jens Klijnehoop, who has 23 goals in 24 games.

Klijnehoop means “Small hope” in Borschic—it would be a good name if Jens were Loflin, because the Loflinders often name things and people ironically. They would call someone “small hope” if they were their last, best hope.

Dirk Eechen, also known as “te Sckipper” in Holtzlund, the Captain of the Ship, also likes his team’s chances. “We can both score goals,” he said, “but if it comes down to defense, which I think it will, we have the edge. Our defenders are better and our goalkeeper is better. They won’t outscore us on neutral ice.”

To which Grimm says, “Anytime you can put 51 shots on goal on a team, you’ll win more often than not.”

Grimm is referring to the recent series with Dohmatische, in which Rjaward shot on goal a total of 84 times and scored 9 goals, but only once in the first leg, on 51 shots.

There is no room for error in this game, as it is a singlet.

The game will take place at 3 of the clock in the afternoon, and the arena floodlights will already be lit. It looks as if the weather will be blustery, but no snow is forecast. The steam refrigerator generators will need to work hard to keep the rink frozen, based on the lights and the huge crowd expected.

It will be like many another Flowering Branch final, in other words.

And someone will raise the Silver and drink the ceremonial tisande (warm brandy and pear nectar) from it.

Who will it be? Anyone's guess. It may end up being the city that brings the biggest crowd and cheers the loudest.


Week 24 results: Borschland Hockey League

Steel-mill-616526_1280Rjaward and Tarlunz took care of business this week, dispatching inferior foes, while 3rd place Holtzlund had a tougher time with rejuvenated Sajbell.

Image: Steel worker oversees smelting process in the Unterkirche-Koobrand mill in Tarlunz. Image by 272447 from Pixabay 

4 Sajbell v. Holtzlund 4: It was a battle from the beginning and neither team gave any quarter as the defenses and the goaltenders exchanged (in effect) for each other had a tough time keeping the puck out of the net. Sybrandy Spillers admitted to a case of the jitters as he faced his old team for the first time since donning a Holtzlund sweater, while Gregory Gatekeeper was kept extremely busy by the active Holtzlund forwards, who poured 37 shots at him. Sajbell was ahead 4-3 with 5 minutes to go in the game, but Holtzlund saved a point by pulling Spillers with a minute to go and making the extra attacker count with a Lourens Nordhall drive to the goal. Sajbell’s 1-1-1 record against the top teams in the league three games in a row is especially impressive given their 3-11-1 record in the first half.

3 Tarlunz v. Onatten 2: Tarlunz, having wrested control of the top of the table from Rjaward—though the Cattle Drivers have a game in hand—were not about to let the Longshoremen come in and knock them off their pedestal. Still, it was a closer game than the Steel Men would’ve wished, with Onatten coming within a goal at 3-2 on a clever wrister from Kip van Meeter with 3:33 left in the game. Onatten could not get back level, however, even though they had a fortunate penalty against Loflin defender Koshok Pirka that let them close out the game two men up with goalie Cendar Perdath pulled. "Uneasy the head that wears the crown," said Onatten coach August Milch after the game. He should know. Three years ago Onatten were in first place at this point in the season and ended up in fourth position.

1 Lojren v. Rjaward 3: The Cattle Drivers tuned up for the Flowering Branch Cup finals by dumping Lojren at home. Te Lughaus decided to keep the goal count down by employing a safety-first defensive strategy, but that meant they took a total of 12 shots on goal for the game. They have now lost four games in a row and are 3-10-1 in their last fourteen games after starting out 4-4-2 and defeating Te Staff and Matexipar in consecutive games. Rjaward's Michael Angelbear was first star in this game with the go-ahead goal at the beginning of the third period.

5 Sichebach v. Atterische 3: Sichebach’s offense, led by the excellent Mark Munchmann, has scored a total of goals this year, a more than respectable number and good for seventh in the league. That’s why the Fox Hunters can take away a bit of pride from another lost season, along with this impressive win against a clearly depleted Atterische team that was traveling again after losing to Holtzlund in Erichels a few days before. Munchmann scored a goal and had three assists as his first line (wingers Paulus Damskathujske and Maarten Martujns) and first set of defenders (Steen Rudolphus and Ruud van Grooshuus) scored the rest of the goals between them.

1 Matexipar v. Te Staff 1: It was like old times as the Iron Sticks fought the Citymen to a standstill despite having nearly nothing to show for 32 shots on goal. Te Staff was on the defensive for most of the game after Te Staff's Conraad Gleeph scored an early marker on a power play, but goalie Korka was up to the job. Jan "The Brick" Brichterglad turned back 22 Te Staff efforts.

4 Meechen v. Bjaward 1: Meechen’s wounded pride from their 1-5-2 start to the second half of the season and fall from grace atop the table might have had something to do with their sound thrashing of a solid Bjaward club that is having troubles of its own.

2 Bevinlunz v. Dohmatische 4: Dohmatische licked its wounds from the 8-2 hiding it received from Rjaward just a few days ago. Luukas Kolibruj, backup goalie for Bevinlunz, let in 3 goals on 27 shots; the 4th was an empty-netter. Grayson Mulebear got his first score in five games for Dohmatische.

2 Meenesanne v. Wrischer 3: The Weavers fall ever deeper into the darkness of the cellar with this avoidable loss to Wrischer. There will be discussions this summer about whether a team like Alma would be better suited to the top league than Meenesanne, which had finished in last place in the BHL 3 out of the last five years and whose top finish has been 12th. They are playing better at 5-15-4 than Gottwrischer, however, who were bounced from the league after the 330 season with a 4-21-6 record, the last that the BHL had 17 teams in the modern era.


"Single-minded for a double outcome": Flowering Branch Cup 336 NR Finalists set!

Finalists are in for the Flowering Branch Cup of 336 NR!

It’s Rjaward v. Holtzlund!

The home teams pulled it out in the second leg of the cup and now they face each other for the possibility of the double: Championship and Cup in the same year.

4 Holtzlund v. Atterische 2: The Sybrandy Spillers acquisition is paying dividends for the Axe Men of Erichels. Atterische is not terribly adept at scoring goals, but the Holtzlund blue liners universally say they are loving the steady play of Spillers in net. In this one, Holtzlund went behind 2-0 on goals from Ruud Pampujrmoole and Quentin van Vleet as Atterische made an early bid to overcome the six away goals they let in on the first leg. Holtzlund woke up late in the first period, making it 2-1 on a rebound put-back by Kaameron Luudjeron, and then dominated play from then on, getting markers from Dujtrick de Jong, Saruman Gloostick, and Loflin forward Parn Pekek. Holtzlund coach Dirk Eechen said his team was ready for Rjaward, declaring that “We are single-minded for a double outcome. We just need to play our game.”

8 Rjaward v. Dohmatische 2: “A lot of pent-up frustration was discharged in this game,” said star center Jens Klijnehoop after Rjaward dismantled the Swamp Hawks and ended their Cup bid. Klijnehoop scored a trinity and two others had two goals (Christian Zeeberg and Willem van ter Uudl) in a game that left no doubt who was worthy of moving on to the finals. Dohmatische netminder Rokus Krenkl had stopped a league-high 51 shots in the first game of the series, but by 11:47 of the second period, he had given up 6 markers, including 3 power play goals, 2 scored by Klijnehoop. Backup goalie Koort Wichtick, who has seen only 202 minutes of ice time this year, mopped up. Dohmatische coach Azofer Teekeetl said after the game, “I am proud we got this far this year. Hopefully management can take the money we earned from the Cup and invest in more players that will help us.” Rjaward’s sellout crowd of 8,042 will add another 5,000 schillings of help to the Dohmatische cause, and no one can take away their semifinal finish, the best they’ve done since 308.


Week 23 results: Borschland Hockey League

Panoramic-3069125_1920The race for the championship is tightening up! Both Tarlunz and Holtzlund gained ground on the faltering Cattle Drivers of Rjaward, who scored 3 goals in a game for the first time in two weeks, but who also gave up 4 to the energized Te Staff team playing at home. 7 games to go and it’s anybody’s league to win.

Image of Sichebach on the Saache River by Daniel Nebreda from Pixabay

 

5 Tarlunz v. Sajbell 4: Sajbell’s resurgence continues, just falling short against a polished and professional Steel Men squad. New acquisition Antonius Udelhooven saw only 7:51 of ice team as a skater off the bench, but assisted on Sajbell’s third goal by third-line winger Theedy te Hartboom, which started a 2-goal comeback from 3-1 down. Former Holtzlund skater Grundel Masur got his first marker in a Sajbell jersey after assisting on three goals in previous weeks. Tarlunz's active first line of Habel Baarda, Gerd Luppink, and Pujtr Weeckerstrom all had goals in the first period, while defenders Wils Oosterijk and bench forward Broosuj van Geeldrijk gave the Ponders leads in the second and third periods, respectively. Tarlunz backup goalie Maxime ter Aarte stopped 22 of 26 Sea God shots.

4 Te Staff v. Rjaward 3: The Citymen played an inspired game, not willing to settle for a tie with a raucous home crowd of 9,494 looking on. Tied 3-3 with 3:05 to go, the second line engineered a puck-moving sequence in Rjaward’s zone that ended with a characteristic Te Staff goal, a tip-in by center Sherm Reinhardt. Rjaward’s coach said Norbert Grimm said, “We are in a little slump. It’s concerning. But we are confident in the players we have. We’ll weather it.”

3 Holtzlund v. Wrischer 1: Holtzlund’s defense stepped up big again in a tidy home win before 7,402 fans, the first standing-room only crowd in Erichels since 331. “It’s not been this loud in the rink for a long time,” said coach Dirk Eechen after the game. “We have the best fans in the league, but everyone is thirsting for that double and want to be there to see us win it.” Holtzlund's first star of the game was Kaameron Luudjeron, who had a goal and an assist and now is inching up Holtzlund's scoring leaderboard with 15 (4, 11).

3 Lojren v. Atterische 4: Atterische got by Lojren with an uncharacteristic explosion of offense, leading 4-1 by the middle of the second period. Goals number 7 and 8 by Sander Glossamer of Lojren almost brought Te Lughaus level with the Diggers. Glossamer had been mired in a slump for much of the second half. Atterische's Espen van Rivujr and Irish defender Seamus Rig both had a goal and an assist.

2 Onatten v. Bjaward 2: Onatten’s goaltender Cendar Perdath played a masterful game, stopping 42 Bjaward shots, to preserve the tie with the Bulls. Perdath, now 33 years old, is a symbol of the aging Onatten corps which had contended for championships in the past six years and won a Flowering Branch Cup in 334. "We might as well face it," said longtime coach August Milch. "We will make changes this summer. We need to get back to where we were."

0 Dohmatische v. Meechen 1: Goalie Welneth Ungarth returned magnificently to form in this tense and tight thriller on the Swamp Hawks’ ice. Meechen played conservatively, choking off Dohmatische's strategy of counterattack, and in the third period Ungarth weathered an uncharacteristic barrage of shots from the Hawks' forwards. 

2 Sichebach v. Meenesanne 0: This game could charitably be called a snoozefest as Meenesanne put up only a feeble attempt at scoring goals. Only 15 of their shots went on net; 11 were blocked. Atterische, for its part, seemed content to move the puck around and preserve its lead, which it jumped out to in the first 9 minutes of the contest. Goal-scorers for Sichebach were Wujbe Breemenger and Vinasolan forward Quinctius Quintorius.

2 Bevinlunz v. Matexipar 1: Heiko Moordfors and the Bevinlunz defense stepped on the Iron Sticks' collective throat to give 6,747 fans a happy ending. Bevinlunz’ Roger Wijkenschaud, who started the year on the second line but has spent time as a bench forward, shot home only his third goal of the season to send the Merchantmen ahead for good at 1:51 remaining in the second period. Matexipar got off 11 shots in the final period but Moordfors said no on all of them.

 


Leg 1 of the Semifinals of the BHL Flowering Branch Cup 336 NR!

Sakura-4890030_1920We are one step closer to the final of the Flowering Branch Cup and it looks like one spot is much closer to being set while the other is very much still up in the air!

Rjaward has gone into a little goal-scoring slump at the worst time of the year, but their disappointing result in the Low Country of the Borschland River didn't come from lack of trying.

Meanwhile, Holtzlund benefited from some questionable decisions from Atterische coach Paul Angewejrt and they go back to Erichels in an enviable position for Leg #2.

1 Dohmatische v. Rjaward 1

A gargantuan effort from the Swamp Hawks’ defense gave Dohmatische a crucial lift in their efforts to get to the Finals of the Flowering Branch Cup. Rjaward, which just a couple of days ago was only able to put in two markers versus Sajbell on their ice, was held to their lowest number of goals this year by Rokus Krenkl (51 saves) and the Bearish penalty-killers of the Hawks.

“Two cups in one year (Nations and Flowering Branch) would be a dream,” said Hubert “Hube” Bearishwood, who blocked 3 shots and had two “true” hits that dispossessed Rjawarders of the puck. “But I’m not dreaming now. I’m just planning for the next game. It will be a big game. Very, very big.”

Dohmatische scored early on a penalty shot from Bastiaan Orp, after Cattle Driver defenseman Klaes "Boom Boom" Boomsmass tripped him as he was flying in on goaltender from the blue line.

That 1-0 score held up until 12:34 of the third period, when the fifth penalty of the night finally caught up with the Swamp Hawks and they gave up a power-play goal, a deflection off of Valiant Black that was redirect past Krenkl. The puck seemed to get lost in Black’s arm-fur for a second before reemerging and flying past Krenkl’s stick side. Gerd Zijterwoode got credit for the marker.

Hawk coach Azofer Teekeetl said, “You’ve got to give it to Krunky (Rokus Krenkl). First star, without a doubt. We have to be better in all phases, but if he stands on his head like that again, I like our chances.”

Lassomen coach Norbert Grimm, a former goalie, was not as quick to crown the Hawk netminder with laurels. “51 shots, only one went in? That’s not going to happen again. All respect to Krenkl; I knew his father and he was a fine goalie, too. But Sankt Betje (the Borschic “Lady Luck”) was with the other team today.”

3 Atterische v. Holtzlund 6

The Axe Men got not just one but two empty-net goals in this one as they were ahead by only 4-3 with 1:19 left. Atterische coach Paul Angewejrt pulled goalie Wujbe Minther and only 22 seconds later scored from long-range after dispossessing of the puck. With 5 away goals, Holtzlund was already in a commanding position, but Angewejrt decided to keep the extra attacker on the ice in a desperate bid to make the score tighter. That strategy backfired when Atterische's Ruud van Speelte sent a puck behind the boards and it went all the way around to the other dasher, where Holtzlund’s Dujtrick de Jong had a brief tussle with Rjaward defender Arnuud Glaschwin before gaining possession. He flipped the puck to center ice and centerman Tyger Oostende won it from defenseman Hadewich Ree. Oostende then turned and sent the biscuit into the basket.

The last minute or so of the game made a fairly close game into what looked like a rout. The score was tied 3-3 with five lead changes by the beginning of the third period, before a 3 on 2 breakout with Holtzlund’s third line (goal from Paul-Frujdrick Henricks, assists from Ivo Henke and Saruman Gloostick) stunned the Peat Men defense.

First star of the game was de Jong (2 goals), second star Henricks, and third star Atterische’s Ruud Pampujrmoole, who scored a goal and assisted on the other two for the Diggers.

Dirk Eechen, Holtzlund’s coach, said after the game, “It was a team win. Everybody playing to their highest ability. This is what we need to get the Cup.”

Angewejrt was not interested in discussing his decision to keep the goalie out after the first empty-net goal. “We were trying to score and keep them from scoring. That’s it,” he said with a scowl after the game.

Holtzlund are now more than masters of their fate: not only do they make it to the finals if they win or tie their home game, they can also lose by 2 goals and still advance, and if they lose by three but do not give up six goals, they will win the series because of their away-goals total.

“Anything other than a total collapse and we’re in,” said a fan in the Saw and Hemlock pub in Erichels. “We’re confident but we’ll ask the saints to pray for us too.”


Week 22 results: Borschland Hockey League

22.preakness

The fight at the top got a little closer as the Sea Gods of Sajbell shocked Rjaward with a 3-2 win at home.

Meanwhile, both Tarlunz and Holtzlund defeated their opponents, which means the difference between the three at the top is now a mere five points.

Image: the childhood home of Bjaward coach Norbert Grimm, who grew up in the apple-growing country of Lisandra in southern Borschland.

3 Sajbell v. Rjaward 2: Playing at home before a rollicking 4,589 fans who sang and brandished tridents, Sajbell got its biggest win of the season at the very moment that Tarlunz and Holtzlund needed it. Gregory Gatekeeper played brilliantly, making 41 saves, including off of 13 shots from the combination of Zijterwoode and Klijnehoop whom he faced in the Nation’s Cup. Rjaward’s goals came from power plays, the last one at 2:52 remaining in the third period from defender Antonius Mujrefeld (#5 on the season). But Sajbell had previously put up three goals (Klaes Gootwen, Chrujstoff te Planderin, and Bram te Hammer) and hung on for dear life to seal their 7th win of the season.

 

4 Tarlunz v. Dohmatische 0: A rematch of their quarterfinal Flowering Branch Cup series found Tarlunz in a mood for revenge. With a partisan crowd of 9,004 looking on, the Steelmen took a decisive result, with August Hoock making 24 saves and Habel Baarda returning to the scoresheet with 2 goals (19 and 20). Dohmatische coach Azofer Teekeetl downplayed the loss after the game, attributing it to the team’s preparation for Rjaward in Cup. “Give it to them (Tarlunz). They came to play and we were a bit distracted.”

2 Matexipar v. Holtzlund 4: The Axe Men put together an excellent game away from their own rink to keep in contact with Rjaward and Tarlunz. Sybrandy Spillers played a solid game, only having to stop 22 shots as the Holtzlund defense stepped up with Koldar Vorochel and Ithak Lornak, both Loflinders, responding to the epithets tossed at them by the anti-Loflin Matexipar crowd by blocking 9 shots between them and making 4 “true” hits that gave Holtzlund possession. One of those led to a 2 on 1 with newly-promoted (after the departure of Grundel Masur to Sajbell) second-line left wing Schejes Rotwijn executing a perfect tic-tac-toe with linemate Tomas Haalblad.

1 Meechen v. Bevinlunz 1: This outcome might have been foreordained with the two best goalies in the league facing each other on opposite sides of the ice. Welneth Ungarth seems to be back in form after fracturing his cheekbone and getting treatment in a Zimrothian clinic, while Heiko Moordfors continues on putting up excellent save numbers—he stopped 31 of 32 in this one.

3 Wrischer v. Sichebach 3: Sichebach followed up its unlikely 5-4 triumph over Meechen with an if-only-woulda-shoulda-coulda tie with Wrischer. The Fox Hunters were behind 3-2 with :18 left in the third when forward Gerd Nieuhuus scored on a long-range prayer, his first goal of the season. The next face-off became all-important, with only a few seconds left to set up and shoot for a possible winning goal. Of course Sichebach put their star centerman Mark Munchmann on the draw, and Wrischer countered with veteran and captain Silvius Silvulus. Then Wrischer coach Jonathan Hojberger thought better of his decision and put in Beenz Grechtlin instead. Regardless, Munchmann won the faceoff and Sichebach sent the puck deep, where Munchmann intercepted it behind the goal and tried a wrap-around. Photos show the puck ticked off of goalie Bengt Ambrooderhejm’s skate and off to the dasher—otherwise Sichebach would have had an unlikely 4-3 win.

5 Te Staff v. Lojren 1: Te Staff took care of Lojren at home, with the combination of Reinhardt and Anselm popping open some vintage stickhandling and passing to combine for 2 goals and 3 assists. It looks as if the Citymen’s season is all but over now, but at least in this game they looked like the champions of old.

2 Bjaward v. Atterische 2: Atterische got a point away from home against a tough opponent, but they were again frustrated on the offensive side against a tough set of defenders and goaltender (Breet van Heijgl) who was not about to give up any cheapies. Bjaward was hoping for better; they are 5th in the table and could put pressure on the leaders if they could string together some wins, but they seem to lack that last push. Coach Norbert Grimm took a leave of absence to tend to his mother in Lisandra, who it seems may be moving on to the next life very shortly. Contacted at his ancestral home, he said only, "There are more important things than hockey."

4 Meenesanne v. Onatten 3: The battle for the bottom came out with the home team on top. Onatten continues to set records for futility. Its worst season in the last 50 years was 9-22-1 in 292, and nine wins in this season seems like quite a long shot. It seems that the Onatten roster's average age of 32 has finally caught up with them. Meenesanne got two goals from Kai Grootlund, only his 5th and 6th of the season, but he is #2 in points on the team with 15.


Week 21 results: Borschland Hockey League

BorschlandnationalflagUpdated standings are in the sidebar to the right!----->

Week 21 is in the books and Rjaward is the clear leader--by seven points now, two full games. It looks like their championship to lose as neither Tarlunz nor Holtzlund could separate themselves from each other in the biggest matchup of the year so far.

At the same time, with Meechen, Bjaward, and Te Staff all losing this week, it is now more and more likely that the three teams vying for the championship are the Cattle Drivers, the Steelmen, and the boys from Erichels.

2 Tarlunz v. Holtzlund 2: This heavyweight battle turned out to be a low-scoring standoff as both goalies stood on their heads for a fair but unsatisfying result. Sybrandy Spillers made a successful debut in an Axe Man jersey, turning back 33 out of 35 shots, while the defense in front of him blocked 15. Tarlunz’s August Hoock was his steady self, making 29 saves as Holtzlund played more of a conservative game in front of their new goalie. The  most active period was the second, which saw three lead changes and ended with what would be the final score. Gerd Hijs-ter Hijde opened the scoring for the Steelmen, only to be matched by Jens Jeppernackt of the Timber Boys. Holtzlund then opened a brief 2-1 lead on a nifty shot from Klaes Dievenhoven (7th goal of the year) before Tor Smeets evened it up. Dievenhoven was first star of the game for Holtzlund with Spillers second and Hijs-ter Hijde, who had an assist on Smeets’ goal, was third. Holtzlund will have some consolation that they gained a point away from home after Tarlunz hung 5 goals on them in Erichels, but if there is a tie for the championship, one of the tiebreakers (after goal differential) is head-to-head record, which Tarlunz wins at 1-0-1.

5 Rjaward v. Atterische 1: Rjaward are looking fairly unstoppable at this moment as they put together a complete performance this time against Atterische. Atterische’s Achilles’ heel this year has been putting together enough passes to set up a structure in their attacking zone, and in this game three penalties followed by three power play goals ruined any thoughts they had of coming back. Atterische coach Paul Angewejrt said afterwards, “They (Rjaward) were at home, and they can do anything they want at home. The officials don’t see it. But we take a stick a few millimeters off the ice and it’s a penalty.” Wujbe Minther got torched for all five goals in a game that the Peat Men hoped would be an auspicious preview of the Flowering Branch final, to be played in Te Staff at Te Staff’s te Rijngk. Gerd Zijterwoode got goals 13 and 14 of the year, while lesser-known winger Henrick te Kleerk had three assists.

 

4 Bjaward v. Sichebach 5: The Fox Hunters ambushed the Bulls with 4 goals in the first period and then hung on. Pascal Nuessli had two goals and two assists as the Bulls made a furious come back from 5-2 down late in the second period. They pulled goalie Breet van Hejgl with 1:02 left in the game but could not push across that fifth goal, ringing the post once and beating goalie Arnesten Schupinck to his right—but then having defender Steen Rudolphus sweep the puck away at the last second. Five different Fox Hunters scored for Sichebach, with first line winger Pujtr Feelswijck picking up two assists to go along with his marker.

3 Wrischer v. Meechen 2: Meechen’s woes continue in the absence of Welneth Ungarth, but good news came after the game as after Ungarth left the country for treatment, he seems ready to come back for Week 22. Meechen's recent losing streak has now made them more likely to be spoilers than champions, as they have a Week 29 game remaining against Holtzlund. Wrischer's first line of Benz Greechtlin, Tomas Scheelgrav and Korin Kugellicht (two assists) were responsible for all three goals against Jens Gladwell. Defender Nick Teelemark scored the third goal during a power play.

2 Te Staff v. Sajbell 3: Sajbell’s new Bearish combination seems to be working like a charm. Gregory Gatekeeper stopped 34 of 36 Citymen shots and Man Grizzlyfaith assisted on the winning goal with only :44 left on the clock in the third period. Te Staff’s first line was shut out in this one on 16 shots. Franck Hoockertop had the winner; Sajbell's coach Rokus Zwischelstaff said afterwards, "The whole city is rallying around our boys and now all of Bearland is rooting for us as well. I see great things coming now and in the future."

2 Dohmatische v. Onatten 0: Dohmatische is rehabilitating its regular-season record and has now won 3, lost 1, and tied 2 in the second half. Onatten’s dismal, record-setting season of futility has the Longshoremen at the point of despair. Savujr Ulm had both goals for Dohmatische. Backup goalie, Loflinder Wektel Ruach, who played 6 successful seasons with Bijfhaf before signing with Dohmatische, got his first shutout of the year on 20 shots on goal.

6 Matexipar v. Lojren 2: Matexipar took out their frustration on Lojren and its backup goaltender, Dragoon Camarata, who announced his retirement after the game. Camarata will look for coaching opportunities in his native Vinasola, where he is a hall-of-fame legend. Matexipar got a trinity from Nicolas Untergrujn, his first ever.

3 Bevinlunz v. Meenesanne 0: Heiko Moordfors was not overly tested in this game, having to stop only 18 shots. Meanwhile, the Merchantmen were pleasing the home crowd with excellent goals from Albuj Ploof, Gunther van Wijk, and Jens Holsloot.

Geekable notes: A schedule glitch means the 3-3 tie between Sajbell and Atterische in Week 20 is not a regular season result. They would've played three times if that game had stood, but each time can only play each other twice. There will be some "short week" weeks to come where teams can play out of sequence and regularize the schedule so that each team plays all the others only twice this year.


Flowering Branch Cup Semifinal Predictions: Holtzlund v. Atterische

Photo on 11-11-18 at 11.09 AM #2Dohmatische is the giant-killer and Rjaward is the giant, but the matchup between the other two teams—the Axe Men of Holtzlund and Atterische’s Peat Diggers—may be the more intriguing.

Image: Holtzlund Coach Dirk Eechen at home in his study working on game strategy.

Atterische v Holtzlund

Holtzlund has wagered everything on this season. Previously having bought Zimrothian goalie Gareth Velnath from Meenesanne, they have just sent a very good right wing (Grundel Masur) and an up-and-coming goalie (Gregory Gatekeeper) to Sajbell for a veteran goaltender (Sybrandy Spillers) they think will be the last piece in the puzzle for their double Cup and Championship.

They have also spent well beyond their means. In a normal year management might be willing to spend to 5,000 schillings on new players. They paid 12,000 alone on Gatekeeper, the Nations' Cup-winning Bearish goaltender, along with the 8,000 they sent to Meenesanne for Zimrothian Velnath, now marooned in an alpine meadow above Dafna some 35 miles from his fiancée in Erichels.

But it may all come off. Holtzlund is 11-4-5 in the league, they best they’ve ever been at this point in the year. Their lone championship (302 NR) in the fifty-five year history of the team is now over 30 years old. They have won the Flowering Branch Cup three times, most recently in 288, when it was a tournament of eight. They’ve never come close to a double.

For that matter, only Te Staff, Matexipar, and Bjaward have doubles in the history of the BHL, and the most recent was Te Staff’s in 316.

So this is the Axe Men’s time.

They are favorites in this one as well because they have always had offense. The Timber Boys have scored 76 goals, which is actually one better than the prolific Rjaward Cattle Drivers. Unlike Rjaward, however, their scoring is much more balanced, and except for someone like Lourens Nordhall (13 goals, 27 points) or Dujtrick de Jong (5, 17), they aren’t going to put many players on a National Selection ballot of forwards.

What they do have is attacking defenders, which is something of a rarity in Borschland hockey. Klaes Dievenhoven, their veteran star blue-liner, has more goals (6) than their third-line center Paul-Frujdrick Henrick (5). In fact, all six of the Axe Men’s top defensemen have goals, as coach Dirk Eechen encourages long-range shooting and clean-up of rebounds.

As poetic Loflinder defenseman Ithak Lornak puts it, “Both a sniper and a duck hunter shoot at one target,” meaning that shooting one bullet with accuracy can often be as successful as shooting many pellets in the general area of a target.

The all-out offensive philosophy has led to quite a few turnovers and breakaways, to the tune of 53 goals against. Only Wrischer and then the bottom four teams in the league have given up more goals.

Eechen explains the situation thusly: “We have good defenders. The missing piece has been goaltending.”

And the truth is that a good goaltender might cover a multitude of sins committed by those good defenders and that offensive philosophy, but Velnath is young and inconsistent (he had several shutouts in a row early in the season, but then seemed to crumble), Bram Phauxhall is also still developing to be charitable, and Schmidt Max, the veteran, has been injured, is rusty, and never inspired much confidence anyway.

Enter Spillers, formerly of Sajbell, who at 28 is seasoned and proven. He could not keep the Sea Gods’ inferior talent from losing nearly a dozen games in the first half, but he is respected in the league as technically sound and even capable of brilliance at times.

All the to-do about Holtzlund’s goalies, Rjaward’s star forwards, and Dohmatische’s defense has meant that Atterische have flown under the phase shift canopy throughout this Cup. At 7-7-6 in the championship, they are ninth in the table and better than Dohmatische in that department.

But their road to the semis was quite different from their cross-river rivals: they drew bottom-of-the-table opponents (and one Second Division squad, Ellafuus) and just eked their way out of defeat to all three.

They dumped a determined Meenesanne club in Round 3 by 5-4, then in the Round of 16 drew Lojren and promptly lost the first game in the series, as they had versus the Weavers. They had to go to a shootout to make it to the quarterfinals.

With Cinderella squad Ellafuus, they were again 2-1 losers on the first leg away from home, but finally put together a fine effort on the back end, winning 3-0.

Coach Paul Angewejrt is a pugnacious type and seldom to never blames his own boys. To him, it’s always the officials or the other team’s questionable play that’s at fault for the Peat Men’s failures.

That means that his team is bonded and pull for each other, and no one is more important to that effort than their emerging first string goaltender, Wujbe Minther.

Minter started out the year as a backup to the well-traveled Markus Ortel, but has played his way into the starting lineup with a 1.90 GAA. In general, Atterische does not give up a whole lot of goals: they are sixth in the league at 2.00. In the Cup, he is at 1.83 and a trusted part of Atterische’s stingy, tenacious corps of defenders.

Offensively, Atterische’s philosophy is more classically Borschic than Holtzlund’s: shoot and score just enough to stay ahead. They had only two players on the National Selection ballot, centerman Rick Rijkstad and winger Jens Jeppernackt, neither of whom made the Nations’ Cup team.

Rijkstad has 10 goals to lead the team and his second-line counterpart, Ruud Pampujrmoole, has eight, but their star power will have to shine brightly to counter Holtzlund’s heavy shooting style.

Head-to-head, there’s more bad news for Atterische: they lost 2-0 at home during Gareth Velnath’s otherworldly shutout streak, then turned around and gave up 5 goals (Minter’s worst day in a Peat Man jersey this year) in a 5-4 loss at the Erichels rink.

So what’s the skinny on this one? A bigger payday awaits those who choose Atterische, 250 schillings, than for the Dohmatische-Rjaward matchup. But the money won't come easily: the Peat Men just haven’t shown a whole lot of brilliance this year either in the Cup or the Championship.

Prediction: Unless Sybrandy Spillers doesn’t gel with his new team--and many stranger things have happened in this league--Holtzlund’s got this one in their back pocket.


Flowering Branch Cup Semifinal Predictions: Dohmatische. v. Rjaward

Ice-hockey-4381263_1920The underdogs and the favorites are set and clear: the draw separated the Low Country rivals, Dohmatische and Atterische, and paired them with the top-of-the-table championship hopefuls, Rjaward and Holtzlund. Thus, if all goes as expected, it’s going to be a Rjaward-Holtzlund final, perhaps as a preview of the final 1-2 finish in the league itself.

But of course the Swamp Hawks and the Peat Men will want to have their say, first.

Dohamtische v. Rjaward

Dohmatische has the best upset pedigree of the two lower Borschland River teams. They have had an unusual season to say the least, giant-killers in the Cup but only middling in the championship.

First-year coach Azofer Teekeetl has remade the squad as defense-first, tough-as-nails group, starting with a tenacious goalie (Rokus Krenkl) and his supporting quartet of  bears (Valiant Black, Clawson Rhododendron, Hubert “Hube” Bearishwood, and Grayson Mulebear) who have stolen headlines as Nations' Cup champions--and in the process, revolutionized traditional thinking about winning Borschic hockey.

Some have characterized the Hawks’ approach as “bullying” and even “dirty,” a charge which the bears have stoutly denied. But there is no mistaking that Dohmatische is not going to play a gentlemanly or even gentlebearly game. They will take penalties and risk the other teams’ hard stares and post-game comments, as long as they win.

Dohmatische has not enjoyed terrific success in the regular season. They sit right now at 11th in the table with a 7-9-4 record, 25 points, and an unattractive -7 goal differential. Although they are only giving up 1.80 goals per game, they are scoring only 1.45. Their first-line center, Baastian Orp, only has 4 goals and 9 points, and their leading point scorer is a defender (Black, 2 goals and 13 points). Truthfully, Dohmatische’s offense is opportunistic rather than line-based, which is why their 29 goals are spread out nearly evenly among 11 players.

That has not seemed to matter when it comes to Cup hockey, however. The Hawks' road to the semis has been paved with better teams, most recently Tarlunz, who have a legitimate chance for their first championship in almost twenty years. Previously to that the Hawks defeated Meechen and their all-Continent goalie Welneth Ungarth. Before that? Heiko Moordfors and Bevinlunz.

That type of resumé should induce a bit of respect, if not strike a bit of fear, into their opponents. They are legitimate giant-killers, the David of the Borschland Hockey League.

The Cattle Drivers of Rjaward are not interested in being characterized as Goliath, however.

They are polar opposites of the Swamp Hawks. Currently at 13-2-5, top of the table and 5 points clear of the Steelmen, they feature a fast-skating, slick-passing and puck-handling first line whose deadly shooting is responsible for 32 of the team's 75 goals scored. First line center Jens Klijnehoop has 17 goals and 22 points, left wing Koort Strijker 9 goals and 20 points, and unsung right wing Willem van ter Uudl has quietly chipped in 6 and 16.

Second line center Gerd Zijterwoode, who shined in the Nations’ Cup and would be the first line center on most teams, is not to be outdone with 12 goals and 20 points.

Then, of course, you have Nations’ Cup Forward of the Cup Michael Angelbear skating on the third line (7/14). Truly an embarrassment of riches and the very best set of goal-scorers Rjaward has ever assembled in its storied history.

Rjaward’s defense, on the other hand, does not win plaudits for its toughness. Giving up 2.45 goals per game, the defense ranks 10th and its first-line goalie, Franck "The Parliamentarian" Pharendaal, will never be confused for an Ungarth or a Moordfors.

It doesn’t need to be that tough. The Lassomen’s +26 goal differential, tops in the league, lets them have a bit of luxury in allowing counterattacks when their shots do not find net and instead leak out to an opposing player with a keen eye for a headman pass. Rjaward prefer to outscore their opponents and so far that philosophy has proven its worth.

On head-to-head comparison, the Swamp Hawks should find a bit of comfort in their most recent 2-2 tie on Rjaward ice. “Most games, they (Rjaward) are going to get their goals,” Teekeetl commented after that game. “This was a game where if the puck had bounced our way one more time, it was three points for us at their place.”

The result was the third 2-2 tie for Rjaward in the last five games, and second in a row at home—in week 19, they ran into Moordfors and his Merchantmen, who, despite losing 3 of their past 5 games, still have only given up the same number of goals as Dohmatische.

“We’re going to be fine,” said Coach Norbert Grimm, an old goaltender who presided over a lot of fine defenses with Te Staff before taking over the reins in the city on the plains. “We don’t change for other teams. We play our game. In a two-game series, the best team will prevail. So you look at the table and tell me who that will be."

Prediction: Dohmatische doesn't need more magic, they just need two more low-scoring games. We'll pick them and you'll get 150 schillings if you bet on them and win.