Mina 22, 2078, m249
ISMO concluded their first ambitious weekend of ice hockey in the 3 Northern settlements. With each matchup a 'double header' seeing the paired teams repeat play on Saturni and Solis, the games delivered a taste for the new sport.
The small seating capacity at the prototype rinks ensured a sell-out crowd for the opening weekend. Largely reserved for media, partners friends, and family, the audiences were enthusiastic and generally encouraging toward the amateur players.
The Cosmonauts delivered a convincing win over the Phantoms in game 1 at Mareotis. Despite outshooting the Cosmonauts 30 to 20, the Phantoms were only able to beat goaltender Marius Hansen once after a wild scramble in front of the net allowing #75 Peter Lehmann to sneak the puck past him.
Otherwise, the game was almost entirely carried on the shoulders of Anna Fedin, captain of the Cosmonauts, who netted a hat-trick and an assist. Vitalia Burian also scored late in the 3rd period to make it a 4-1 game.
Early in game 2, it looked as though the Cosmonauts would repeat the prior day's victory. Goals by Anna Fedin and Yaro Novak allowed them to take an early lead.
The Phantoms held the Cosmonauts off during the 2nd period and closed the gap to 1 after a point shot by Jonathan Moore beat Hansen.
Phantom defenceman Alex Gaumond got the equalizer in the 1st minute of the 3rd period.
The go-ahead goal came after Peter Lehmann was fed on the wing by Gaumond and snapping a powerful shot Hansen's open side.
Lehmann would add an insurance goal 6 minutes later, ending the game 4-2.
"It was a great start," said Anna Fedin who had a total of 4 goals over the two games, "It is an entirely different game compared with practise games. We would have liked to sweep the series, but we are not disappointed in our performance as a team."
It was a sleepy start in Noviymir as the Moles and Khimik fumbled for much of game 1. In fact, both teams looked rather scared at the onset. There were long stretches of slow, aimless passing mixed in with other cringe-worthy moments.
The first goal by Ruslan Vasiliev in the 2nd period wasn't pretty. He fanned his shot, slipped, fell, and yet somehow unintentionally got the puck passed Moles goaltender Sam Bailey.
The following goal by defenceman Andrej Petrovyh was more convincing. A wrist shot up as Bailey went down gave Khimik a 2-0 lead.
The Moles would eventually get one back in the final minutes of the 2nd period, ending the match with a 2-1 score.
Fortunately for the spectators, the pace of game 2 did not resemble the awkward and sluggish play of the opening game.
According to Janice Campbell, captain of the Moles, "We psyched ourselves out and, as as result, it wasn't the game we wanted to play. Today, we promised to play for ourselves and it made a huge difference."
Through much of the game, the Moles were in lock-step with Khimik. Fredrick Mattila would counter goals by Alex Yanovna and Ruslan Vasiliev to earn a hat-trick and end regular time at 3-3.
It would be Campbell to score 6 minutes into overtime for the Moles win 4-3.
Unlike the Noviymir games, the Sands were heavily outmatched against the Wildcards as they played at the K-rink. Mateo Martinez singled handed scored 11 goals, 7 on Saturni and 4 more on Solis.
"We were obviously outclassed by the Wildcards," said Sands captain, Mitchell Cruz, "I think we are all new at this, so we'll take this as a learning experience and come back harder next week.
After this weekend's display, the Sands have an obvious skill deficit. The 5 week round-robin schedule is unlikely to provide the adequate time to further development of skills or team chemistry, so the Sands may endure further humiliation before the exhibition series is complete.
Starting next weekend, teams will play just one match a piece.
Moles will face the Wildcards in Mareotis; Sands will visit Noviymir to take on the Cosmonauts; and the Phantoms will make the trek to tackle Khimik.