What in the world can’t Bucky do?
The NWHL’s very own Winter Soldier is stealing the show in the #Wubble.
If there were any questions about the future of the NWHL talent pool, they start and end with Grant-Mentis.
She was the star of the show yet again in game 5 as the 6ix searched for revenge.
Starting the game with three less skaters than usual was always going to be a test.
2 of those 3 being your top line wingers who also are on the first power play unit is bound to make the skater advantage a weak spot…. or so I thought.
Only about 6 minutes into the game the 6ix draw a penalty. The first minute of that power play: less than ideal. I had a long list of notes about lack of definitive structure, players being too stationary, etc. This is all normal, changing personnel always leads to chaos for a power play. Unless you have a star player to fix it all.
The excellent cross ice pass from Eastwood is not to be forgotten here, but that shot is ridiculous. Not only does Grant-Mentis pick up that bouncing pass better than I pick up my fork, but she rips that shot off the crossbar and into the net. The literal definition of bardown (coincidentally it is also the definition of “this sport is too easy.”)
A power play should try those East-West passes as often as possible. Getting defenders to move out of your passing lanes is why staying stationary is killer. I have noted for a few games now that though the 6ix have the second best PP in the league heading into this game (3 goals on 19 attempts), I have seen a decrease in “creativity” when they’re out there.
Eastwood and Grant-Mentis saw my notes and said “let us shame this fool.”
With about 6 minutes remaining in the first period, a wild shot from the point by the Whitecaps fooled everyone, even Chuli. It did not, however, fool the post.
It was far from the first post hit in the bubble. The situation has happened so often that the broadcast crew made jokes about the lavender colour attracting more rubber.
This is no joke, this research must be done immediately. I want extensive proof that this isn’t true.
Following another beautiful fancam for the Zamboni, the second period is off to a rough start.
The 6ix take commit an ice crime (can we talk about how much better “ice crime” sounds than “penalty”) almost immediately and the Whitecaps’ Haley Mack makes an outrageous pass from beside the net to a wide open Rodgers, who won’t miss a wide open net. 1-1.
About 5 minutes later the Whitecaps defender attempts a pass in the neutral zone that Grant-Mentis intercepts. At full speed the 6ix now have a clear 3 on 2. They miss their first chance but collect the rebound in the corner.
Employing the perfect cycle, they leave two defenders in the dust and Fluke finds Taylor Woods streaking through the slot alone. The pass is perfect, the shot is even better and the 6ix are back on top. 2-1.
Halfway through the period the Whitecaps get a 3 on 1.
Unfortunately for the Whitecaps Elaine Chuli is in the net. They get nothing.
The crowd goes wild.
I’m telling you, these cutouts really make their presence known.
As the period nears a close the 6ix commence an onslaught. 2 minutes of sustained pressure and point blank shots, but to no avail.
To make matters worse with 30 seconds left the whitecaps get a weird bounce in front and tie the game. 2-2.
The third period starts on the wrong foot for the 6ix, another early penalty. Too many women. Though the 6ix kill off the penalty, momentum is firmly with the Whitecaps.
Elaine Chuli is keeping this game 2-2. Odd man rushes, shots from in tight, breakaways, point shots through screens, Chuli stops them all. For parts of this period I couldn’t tell if she had 2 arms or 6. She was that good.
To repay her efforts, the 6ix finally wake up. A backhand in the slot from Curlew hits the skate of a Whitecaps defender, squeaks under Lev (the goalie) and from behind the net, Sarah-Eve Coutu-Godbout gets her first goal in Lake Placid. 3-2.
With 10 minutes remaining in the third the Whitecaps speed draws and a hooking call.
The 6ix start the kill off as well as possible: a shorthanded breakaway. Unfortunately for the 6ix, Fluke does not score.
Even worse: the refs call her for goaltender interference. This is quite the controversial ice crime.
https://clips.twitch.tv/BlueAlluringBeanFloof (watch the play here)
The ensuing 5 on 3, despite the 6ix’s best efforts, leads to a tie game. 3-3 with about 7 minutes left.
To make matters worse, with about 5 minutes left in the game, Chuli is victim of the same ice crime as Lev was to get the 5 on 3. This time, there is no penalty. You can hear the 6ix bench’s pleas for justice. The refs are unswayed, as always, and chaos o’clock approaches.
The last five minutes felt less stressful than usual for a close game. Both teams defended well but seemed to be playing for overtime. At least I thought…. again, the athletes, determined to make me look foolish, turn the game to real CHAOS O’CLOCK.
Grant-Mentis gets a redirection on net with about a 1:30 remaining. This sound relatively tame except for the fact that SHE DID IT WITH ONE HAND WHILE DIVING. The Whitecaps goalie makes an unbelievable save.
This leads to a clear Whitecaps chance from the, as Kenney Loggins would say, “DANGER ZONE.” Elaine Chuli, refusing to be outdone by her counterpart, makes two huge saves in a row.
After a scrum in front of Chuli (in which I can only assume Eastwood instilled the fear of God in the Whitecaps forwards) the faceoff in the 6ix zone is won by Darkangelo. The puck is cleared up the ice and the Whitecaps defenders bump into each other right on their blue line, coughing the puck up to Clairmont. She shifts the puck up to Bucky.
Notice the pump fake which absolutely freezes the defenders and the goalie.
Grant-Mentis secures the win, the revenge for the 5-1 lead blown in Game 2, and some much needed pancakes.
The 6ix defeat the best team in the bubble (undefeated until now) and cement themselves as a real contender with a 3-1-1 record.