Gold Kings vs The Fresno Falcons
November 30 & December 1 2001
(Beatle's Allusions in memory of George Harrison)
The Fresno Falcons came in to Colorado Springs a beaten and battered team. Numerous regulars were sidelined with injuries and they were floundering in a seven-game winless streak (0-6-1).
Truly the Falcons were candidates for an IV Prozac drip, therapy and some sessions in a support group. Things were so bad for the Falcons that the Gold Kings were probably humming "All you need Is Love" for their hockey bretheren. But the Kings missed the spirit of the song and only offered an ice hockey version of tough love.
Despite the fact the Falcons had plenty of excuses to let down, they did what all hockey players do in that first game of a two-game series, they came out hungry to scrape out a victory against a superior Gold Kings club. Nevertheless, that first match was a classic cat and mouse game with the tough love Gold Kings knocking around the hard luck Falcons.
The Falcons started the healing with less than three minutes gone in the first. But before they fully regained their confidence, Aaron Boh took a pass from Johan Ollson and blasted one home from just inside the blueline to knot the score at one a piece just about a minute-and-a-half later.
The Falcons quickly scored another then went on the powerplay. Falcon Junkin slapped one on net during the 5-4. Kirk "Dauber" Daubenspeck made the save. Colin Chaulk took the puck up ice on a 3-1 shorthanded chance and finished his rush by feeding Tom Perry in the slot, who fired it home to again tie the score.
Garrow then scored with about 10 seconds left in a Gold King power play to stake the Gold Kings to a 3-2 lead.
Once again though, the Gold Kings would score another shorthanded goal when Boyer blasted one from the blueline. Fresno goalie Dave Mitchell left a rebound that Boyer manage to coral behind the net while being hammered by the Falcons to his knees. Boyer then managed to feed Enga who put his stick on the bouncing puck and placed it in the back of the net.
But the Falcons wouldn't quit. Daubenspeck made a wild swing with his stick to try and get the puck out of harms way but didn't connect. The biscuit bounced over to Falcon Mike "The Beeve" Mathers who fired it home. It was mere seconds after the Gold Kings went up 4-2.
However that was the last goal of consequence for the Falcons as the Gold Kings would score the next two, including one less than a minute after the Falcons scored one to close the score to 4-3. The goal came off the stick of Dwayne "Blazer" Blais (pronounced Blah), his first professional tally.
Christian Skoryna then tried to will the momentum the other way after falling two goals behind by tangling with Gold King defenseman Aaron Boh. Skoryna took what Boh gave him and landed a few good rights, but then Boh countered with a right-handed bomb, missed another then landed another good one that put Skoryna down. Immediately after ending up on all fours, Skoryna was the recipient of another vicious hook by Boh. Spenrath would get vengeance on Boh late in the game but it was too little too late for the Falcons.
Game two would see the Gold Kings clean up some of their sloppiness from the night before.
The first day of December brought out some changes in the character of the Falcons as well.
On Friday, Canadian hockey was the rule. Everytime you get knocked down, you get back up and go again. Saturday the Falcons went Euro (Some people would call it intelligent hockey, others would call it Euro.)
Dauber had the rust knocked off of him, and perhaps a trip to the chiropractor, on Friday and was back to his usual, somewhat freewheeling, form. His normal contortionist heroics helped stop plenty of sorties on net. A Fresno team still in need of medical attention thanks to the nasty bites of misfortune and some gratuitous bounces of the puck also saved his hide on two occasions. The final stroke of luck came late in the third period as the Kings were actively trying to kill off a 5-3 Fresno powerplay. Dauber wandered out of the net but the puck took a hop to the center of the crease. The biscuit just sat there, a tasty morsel teasing the gaping net mouth, as the Falcons swooped in to try and close the score to 3-2. One Falcon grazed the puck and an alert Gold King managed to clear it out of harms way.
With Dauber back to his normal self, the Kings only had to rely on getting a few goals to put the Falcons out of their weekend misery.
The passes were crisper than on Friday and it showed early on. Boyer went flying down the right wing and made a beautiful tape-to-tape pass to R.J. Enga in the slot. Enga from between the circles is as close to a sure thing as you can have in hockey. He made no mistake and fired it past Fresno goalie and 2000 WCHL All-Star Dave Mitchell.
Later in the period, Craig Lyons was streaking up center ice when Tom Perry hit him with the perfect outlet pass. The Gold King captain cruised in on Mitchell with two Falcons in pursuit. The prey would elude the defense and guide the puck past Mitchell to stake the Kings out to a 2-0 lead in the first period.
The Falcons then abandoned that North American style of smashmouth play for the Euro-style of chess match, 'make them pay for sinful hockey transgressions' hockey. Efforts to draw the Gold Kings into penalties failed on a couple of occasions.
With Boh attempting to take up a position to clear the trash from the crease, Falcon Sauter jumped him from behind and placed something of a sleeper hold on him. Boh managed to get Sauter in front of him and landed a gloved right uppercut to the shnoz of the gritty Falcon forward. Just as fast as Sauter began his aggressive play, he ended it. Quickly transforming from rough and tumble hockey player to an overmatched fighter hanging on for one more round, Sauter was hoping to draw Boh into a penalty to give his struggling Falcons a power play opportunity. The referee had none of it though. Matching minors were called and the Falcon dignity began taking a beating.
Later, Falcon Todd challenged 6'7" Brent Henley of the Kings. Henley threw the gloves instantly after Todd made the invitation to the dance. However, Todd skated away hoping again to draw Henley into a minor penalty. Once again the referee, named Koharski of all things, drew on geography and decided North American hockey is the rule on this continent and called no penalty.
The Gold Kings went up 3-0 in the second on a fluky goal by Colin Chaulk. The Falcons added one of their own late in the third to nullify Dauber's shutout bid, then were bitten by their inability to cash in on a lengthy, late-game 5-3.
The Falcons left the barn with a now nine-game winless streak. Somewhere the droning voice of John Lennon repeating the words "Number 9. Number 9. Number 9" was echoing throughout the World Arena.
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