Minas 28, 2078, m249
After 2 convincing victories over the Sands in week 1 of the exhibition games, the Wildcards came into Mareotis the undefeated favourites in their matchup with the 1 and 1 Moles. However, the Wildcard’s dominance last week became a distant memory as the Moles upset the Wildcards 4–2 with a balance of relentless offence and sound defence.
The Moles opened up the match with a flurry of offensive scoring chances which finally broke the Wildcards at just under four minutes of play.
The Moles’, Kara Okeke created a turnover at center-ice and delivered a beautiful cross-ice to a streaking Captain, Janice Campbell—allowing her to break in and blast a shot over the glove of Wildcard goalie, Jules Arquette.
“Kara knows where I like to go since we used to play recreational field hockey before ISMO,” said Campbell. “With all this open space, I was able to get free and she fed it perfectly to my sweet spot where I was able to open the scoring.”
The on-ice chemistry of Campbell, Okeke, and Laura Hall (all friends from San Olympus) is quickly silencing early critics of the Moles for having too many female players.
After Campbell won the opening faceoff back to Hall, Hall was able to rush up-ice drawing the attention of two defending players who got crossed up, allowing Hall to drop the puck to a freed up Bryan Taylor.
With Campbell taking out the other Wildcards player with a well-timed check, Taylor was able to use his speed to get to the open and fire a wrist shot past Arquette’s glove side to score a second goal for the Moles.
The Wildcards would finally respond with an unique goal at 6:28 that took advantage of the circular ramps encircling the rink. To avoid Okeke’s defense, the Wildcards’ Tia Halvorsen skated up the ramp past center ice and just before the Moles’ blue line to deliver an odd angle shot mid-way up the pike. This caught the Moles’ goalie off-guard for the Wildcards’ first goal of the game.
“To be honest, I lost sight of the puck for a brief moment as Tia went up and before I knew it, the puck came past me at such a strange angle”, said Moles’ Goalie, Sam Bailey. “I guess that’s something new to work on in practice.”
The Moles responded to the goal by aggressively taking control of the puck. Utilizing a series of crisp passes which allowed Taylor to score his second goal of the game to give the Moles a 3 -1 lead.
In the aggressive protection of their lead, the Moles inevitably incurred four straight penalties which dominated the 2nd period of play as Vicky Li, Laura Hall and Fredrick Mattila (twice) each spent time in the box. Yet each time, the Moles’ were able to use their superior passing and puck control to mitigate each penalty.
Third Period: The Final Countdown
With the ugliness of the 2nd period over, the 3rd period opened with a beautiful pass from behind the net from Laura Hall to Fredrick Mattila who slapped it through the five-hole for the 4th goal of the game.
The Wildcards were able to squeeze in another goal with Martinez tipping a shot from the side of the net from Harris with 6 minutes left in play, but were ultimately unable to close the gap.
The buzzer sounded with Moles 4 and Wildcards 2.
“This was a really good confidence booster for us”, said Campbell. ”All of our forwards were able to put the puck in the net. We made some stupid mistakes in the second, but our defencemen and Sam (Bailey) shut down their powerplay opportunities.”
The Wildcards will look to regroup against the Phantoms in Week 3 at Mareotis while the Moles will take on the Sands at Noviymir.