Entertainment, drama, goals, saves, penalty shots, controversy, this game had it all. The DkIT Ravens took on the Belfast Bruins in the IIHL Recreational Division at the Dundonald International Ice Bowl at 10:15 p.m. on Monday, and even with the late starting time, this game was full of twists and turns. The Ravens having put aside the Wolves B in their opening game were looking to keep their encouraging start going, as were the Bruins who easily dispatched the Bulls Ladies in their own first game. Neither team was over familiar with the other, having been in different divisions last year, but as we later found out, it was going to be an exciting and end-to-end affair.
After a tentative start from both teams, it was the Bruins who dominated the early exchanges, creating some decent scoring chances only to be denied by Ravens goalie Miceal O’Neill. The students took their time to get settled into the game, and after a giveaway in the neutral zone, the Bruins opened the scoring. After winning the puck the Bruins broke down the left, hitting a low shot that crept under the Ravens goalie. The Bruins Pressure had finally paid off, and took a deserving 1-0 lead into the first intermission.
In the second period, the students finally gained some composure and Jason Monahan picked up a wrap-around goal early into the 2nd, after some good work from Stephen Hayes and Michael Rogan. Later in the period, the Ravens and Bruins exchanged needless penalties. The Bruins moved the puck around very well, looking for openings in the Ravens defence. With a lot of luck, blocked shots, scrambles in front and some good goaltending from O’Neill again, the Ravens killed off a 5-on-3 penalty with both Monahan and Hayes in the box. It turned out to be a crucial penalty kill. But just as the Ravens had built their confidence, the Bruins scored short-handed. After catching the Ravens on a long shift, the Bruins rushed down the right and scored another goal, the Bruins went into the break a goal to the good, 2-1.
The third period began with even more intensity. End-to-end hockey ensued, with neither team giving an inch. The Belfast-men piled the pressure on the Ravens again with some good work to their impressive point-men, but thanks to lucky deflections and Ravens forwards diving in front of shots, the college-men weathered the storm. Robert Flanagan made one of the plays of the night by getting back directly from his bench to deflect a great Bruins chance halfway through the third.
Following that, the Bruins were disallowed a goal due to players in the crease, excellently spotted by referee William Fay. Belfast were running out of ideas, and the tide began to turn. DkIT countered down the ice on the next shift and with some great vision Stephen Hayes put a pass through to Monahan, who cut into the middle and rifled a shot, hitting the Bruins right post before settling in the back of the net. It was Monahan’s 5th goal of the season, and tied the game at 2-2.
With minutes to go and both teams going for a win, the Bruins created so many 2-on-1 chances but were unable to find a winner. Rogan and Hayes both had breakaways to find the winning goal, but Bruins goalie had different ideas making some great saves to deny them. With 1:30 left on the clock, Monahan had a partial breakaway saved, but as the puck was fluttering through the air, a Bruins defenseman palmed the puck in the crease, which meant a penalty shot. It was well picked up by referee Fay, who it must be said had an excellent game. With Ravens first choice penalty taker Rogan skating injured, the pressure mounted on Monahan to score. With a deke to the forehand he forced the shot under the Bruins goalie’s right pad, and Monahan scored to put the students ahead 3-2.
Somehow, the Ravens had done it. For the last minute, the Bruins threw the kitchen sink, but with yet another blocked shot from Rogan, and clearances from Flanagan and Jarratt, the score ended 3-2. The Bruins will feel they should have won, while the Ravens will never know from where they found that victory.
Final score Ravens 3-2 Bruins.