Dead Men Walking:B. Mack & J. Shannon (1-goal, 1-assist)
Aches & Pains:R. Tenaglia (1-goal, 1-assist)
2011 Spring Season Championship
(Back row Left to Right) Dave Hill, Bill Mack, Matt Iannello, Joe Shannon, John DesmondRick Cassano,
(Front row Left to Right) Ed Nigro, Bill Abcunas, Bill Gardynski Jr., Jim Barber
Missing from photo: Ray Nickerson
Perhaps the most surprising fact heading into the Finals was which two teams were actually playing against each other.The consensus picks among the experts predicted that Dead Men Walking would be playing No Won Knows.The combination of Jeff Deharo in net and Doug Sedille playing up front (and sometimes on defense) made No One Knows the perennial favorite heading into the playoffs.However, a funny thing happened on the way to the Finals; you still have to play the games first to get there.Aches & Pains, even though they had a five hundred record during the regular season, and lost their last three games heading into the playoffs, could play with any team, and proved the so-called experts wrong by upsetting the perennial favorites in the semi-finals, in overtime, to get to the dance.Dead Men Walking had a distinctive edge in the series match-up during the regular season, as they won all three games played and outscored Aches & Pains by a 14 - 6 goal differential.This game would come down to one team (Aches & Pains) trying to run and fore-check the other team right out of the building while preventing them from setting up and passing the ball to the open shooter, and the other team (Dead Men Walking) using skill, finesse and patient ball control to take advantage of match-ups, turnovers and mistakes by the other team and wait for their opening to generate some prime scoring chances.
This game had plenty of wacky omens occur before the game even began.During warm-ups, a kickboard came loose in the corner and it took almost 20 minutes to stabilize it.Then, Jim Barber of Dead Men Walking showed up with his equipment and dressed to play, even though he had not received full medical clearance from the doctors.At the same time, Mark Stickney of Aches & Pains showed up in street clothes unable to play due to a mid-core injury.Finally, the ball was dropped and after thirty seconds on a stoppage of play due to an icing call, the lights went out at the facility.It took almost twenty minutes later to resume play.It reminded a lot of players of the 1988 Stanley Cup Finals game 4 between the Bruins and Edmonton when the lights went out in the old garden with the score tied 3 - 3.
Questions were being asked as to what style of game Aches & Pains would employ to slow down Dead Men Walking.Would they sit back and stack the blue line playing a trap style, or would they stay with their bread and butter style of running hard on the fore check trying to cause turnovers by the defense.The first few minutes answered that question as Aches & Pains stayed with what got them to the Finals and fore checked hard and got their running game going early.The first few minutes naturally saw Aches & Pains generate some ideal scoring chances, however, goalie Bill Gardynski Jr. of Dead Men Walking held his ground and denied any scoring chance thrown his way.The first period was played wide open by both teams, as they traded scoring chance after scoring chance.Five minutes into the first period, Al Sumner opened the scoring for Dead Men Walking, scoring from the high slot area, on passes from Ricky Cassano and Dave Hill(who finally learned to make the long breakout pass up the wing and not try the home run ball up the middle of the rink).From this point of the first period, it was all Dead Men Walking.At 3:42, Joe Shannon was sprung open on the right wing by Bill Abcunas and Joe unloaded a cannon of a shot and blew one past the goalie.With 1:39 to play in the period, Jim Barber(did he ever receive full medical clearance?) was off to the races down the left wing side, when he was sprung loose by the passing of John Desmond and Bill Mack.The time off must have helped Jim as he learned how to actually finish on a breakaway to put his team up by three goals. At the end of the first period, Dead Men Walking certainly looked alive and kicking as they jumped out to a crucial 3 - 0 lead, outshooting Aches & Pains by a 14 - 8 shot differential.
As the second period began, neither team held a distinct advantage in play, although Aches & Pains continued to play aggressively with their fore checking game, constantly applying pressure on the defense of Dead Men Walking.However, nothing was getting by goalie Bill Gardynski Jr.What Aches & Pains needed was a break or an ugly goal.At 6:22, of the second period, they got just that as Umberto “Papa Smurf” Biancardi’s shot from the right wing deflected off Rob Tenaglia out front, who was tangled up with the defenseman, and the ball found its way into the short side of the net.That goal changed the momentum as the fore checking game of Aches & Pains was starting to take its toll on Dead Men Walking’s defense.Their forwards were not moving as much as they were earlier in the game.As a result, they started giving up 3-on-2’s to Aches & Pains.If Aches & Pains could have converted on some of these scoring chances, this game could have changed dramatically.Perhaps overlooked during the second period was the play of goalie Scott Rosato of Aches & Pains who stopped consecutive breakaways by Matt Iannello and Joe Shannon to keep his team in this game.After two periods, Dead Men Walking still controlled this game with a 3 - 1 lead while outshooting Aches & Pains by a 22 – 17 shot total.
You could sense that the next goal would be huge in this game.Plenty of players on both teams were hurting from aches and pains, bumps and bruises, but, continued to play and compete.Dead Men Walking had control of this game with both lines playing up to their potential, while Aches & Pains needed more than just Gary Goodwin and Tony Medeiros running on offense and applying consistent fore checking.They just didn’t get it from the rest of their offense.What happened next was the turning point of this game as Aches & Pains was called for a delay of game penalty at 7:49 of the third period.On the ensuing faceoff, Matt Iannello made a strategic (and decisive) move by moving defenseman Bill Mack up front on the left wing and moved Joe Shannon back to the right point.A premonition by Captain Matt?Only the Hockey Gods know for sure.The ball found its way back to Joe off a turnover who delayed getting his shot off right away so it wouldn’t get blocked and unleashed a slap shot that went wide on the short side of the net.As the defense of Aches & Pains overloaded to Joe’s side, Bill Mack found himself wide open on the left side of the net, gathered the rebound and roofed it into the far top corner of the net (a sniper’s goal scoring move) at 7:33 to give his team some much needed breathing room and increase their lead to 4 – 1.
With the game comfortably in hand, Dead Men Walking got lazy and allowed Aches & Pains to break out with a 3-on -2.Tony Medeiros’ first pass was blocked by the defense just inside the blue line; however, the rebound went back to Rob Tenaglia who managed to get his pass through the defense to Gary Goodwin on the left wing down near the corner.Gary’s blind pass somehow got through the defense to find Tony Medeiros alone out front for an easy tap in goal, making the score 4 – 2 with 3:15 left to play in the game.With just over two and a half minutes to play, Aches & Pains pulled their goalie for an extra attacker.Three times, Dead Men Walking got possession of the ball and fired at the open net, once hitting the post, another just missing the open net and the third attempt missing the net completely.One last desperate dump deep into the corner by Aches & Pains resulted in some tough board work by the defense and wing of Dead Men Walking, resulting in a clearing of the ball out of the zone.Exhausted and out of gas, some of the players from Aches & Pains couldn’t muster the energy or strength to get back out of the zone, even though there was still thirty seconds to play in the game.All they had left was to watch the clock count down to zero.The final shot totals favored Dead Men Walking as they outshot Aches & Pains by a 28 – 26 margin.
On the way to the Finals, Dead Men Walking did A Few Good Men one better after losing to them in the last game of the regular season, as they scored four consecutive goals during the middle of the second and the early part of the third periods to break open a close game and emerge with a 5 – 3 victory.This was the Joe Shannon show, as he exploded for 2-goals and 2-assists.Aches & Pains had a tougher time getting to the big dance as they outlasted No Won Knows, in overtime, by a score of 5 – 4 as Tony Medeiros scored on a clean breakaway two minutes into the extra period.The combination of Umberto “Papa Smurf” Biancardi and Ray Dow led the way for Aches & Pains with Umberto scoring 2-goals and Ray scoring 1-goal and adding 2-assists.
The Hockey Gods must indeed be smiling down on the Over-30 league as within a 1 year’s timeframe (from Spring 2010 to Spring 2011) we have seen the most prominent and longest standing players on that dreaded Over-30 curse list kick that son of a bitchin barrier door in to take their place at the table of champions.First, we had the duo of Dave Hill and Gary Goodwin break through, followed by long suffering Marty Makarewicz, and now followed by Rick Cassano.Congratulations Luigi Derenzes, you just took over first place on the cursed list.
For defenseman Bill Mack, his key goal in the third period plus steady defensive coverage in his own end and quarterbacking skills earned him the coveted Playoff MVP award.In addition, this marked his 8th overall championship jacket won, moving him into a tie for second place overall.However, Over-30 history was made in grand style as Ed Nigro became the first-ever player in the Over-30 league to win 10 championship jackets, and tops the list at number 1.Congratulations Ed, maybe now your daughter will believe you when you tell her this!Kudos also goes out to first-time jacket winners in Rick Cassano, John Desmond and Bill Gardynski Jr.
2011 Spring Playoffs MVP
Dead Men Walking
Congratulations to Bill for winning his 1st Playoff MVP Award.
With two aging knees and a top speed of a fully charged rascal scooter, Bill Mack is one of the league’s premier defenseman that you want to play with and not against.
A well-seasoned veteran that defines the term “Break out pass”, he’s never been one to panic with the ball.Either delivering a tape-to-tape pass to his breaking forwards, or if the stars are aligned just right… use a very limited burst of speed to go end-to-end on a scoring rush.Bill’s dependability and leadership helped guide a very aging Dead Men Walking defense to a championship.