The biggest crowd in a long while at the Dog Pound rocked like old times, but the Champs were the silencers in the battle of Conference leaders.
The Dogs looked like a team from the outset that was tight, nervous, or puck watching.
I think they just looked like what they were - a team that was playing in front of the biggest crowd that any of them had ever seen in their own rink.
The Vipers on the other hand looked focused and ready to battle from the word go. And quite simply - VERY GOOD. And I'd hazard a guess that there wasn't one fan in the stands that didn't think the same thing?
The Snakes bit the Dogs 32 seconds into the game on a and from that point on the Dogs were in fightback mode. And the Vipers just kept taking the better of the fight to them. To say that offense was hard to come by for the Dogs from scoring areas through the first 40 minutes would be an understatement. The last thing you can say about the Dogs is that there wasn't anything less than a 100% effort. However, it seemed that the Dogs never got any sustained pressure going, and it seemed just like "one of those nights" repeatedly with how the puck was bouncing. But maybe that's just a cliche said by a team that doesn't win?
I feel for Frank Slubowski. Fair or not, in every game as big as this one the goalies are under a microscope. As one Mr. Plante once said - "goaltending is the only profession where when you make a mistake, a big red light goes on and thousands of people either boo or cheer" I said on the broadcast that Frank would have wanted to have 1 or 2 back. And I also said that when anyone says anything about goal tending during games they need to look at the bigger picture. And that is that Frank is one of several big reasons that the team is at it's place in the standings.
It was just so great to see the Pound that full, and it hear it that loud. Port Alberni, give your selves a round of applause..
I hope the fans that came for the first time this year saw the effort that the team put in. That they didn't "punch the clock" as Nolan Graham said on the post game show. They kept fighting and eventually made a game of it.
It would have been quite easy with the Vipers dominating the game and up 5-1 to just run out the clock. Instead, the kids didn't quit and they scored two quick ones and were all of a sudden one end-board bounce away from making it a one goal game which would have REALLY made a game of it.
I can't imagine how loud it would have been if that one went in. As I remarked on the broadcast - I don't know if I've ever heard a noise like that out of the crowd in a long time, or ever. It was as if every single fan was instantaneously making the same excited noise trying to will the puck into the net...Cool stuff.
In the end the Vipers should be proud of a solid win and a great end to the longest road trip ever.
And the Dogs should be proud of coming up with a valiant effort. I know to the players that the comment is a hollow one, as all they wanted for all the fans was to just give you guys the win.
The sun comes up tomorrow, starting a new streak.....