Mesha 21, 2078, m249
In front of a sold out Europa crowd, the Wildcards came in and beat Khimik 2 to 1, in the opening games of ISMO Exhibition Round 2
To the majority of fans in the new Europa rink, this was their first experience of ISMO hockey as Exhibition Round 1 was not broadcast aside from news reports. The fan response was positive and enthusiastic.
“I loved it!”, said one fan. “I’m a football gal so I expected this to be somewhat like MAFL but the speed of this game—it felt much faster. Just wished we had won.”
Another fan chimed in after the game, “Some of the moves they did, like going up the ramps were cool. It didn’t always work but admired their guts in trying. I’ll be back to see more.”
And more chances they’ll get, as Round 2 will have five more weeks of play with two more games scheduled in Europa.
This suits Khimik’s new forward, Jessie Andersen (formerly from the Sands), just fine as she’s right at home in Europa.
“I’m really excited to play in front of my family and friends,” said Andersen of her new placement, “I know my new teammates are all from Korolev but I’m happy to show them what a great colony, Europa is.”
The first period saw no goals as both teams tested the waters.
The stalemate was broken in second period by a beautiful goal from Lehmann (formerly of the Phantoms), who redirected a short pass from Phan to complete the play.
With less than a minute left before intermission, Phan set up another goal beautifully with a deft backdoor pass to Lindberg from the bottom of the right face-off circle. Lindberg tipped the puck in to give Wildcards a 2-0 lead.
The Europa crowd opened up the third period with a massive surge in support of Khimiks. They responded with a wave of aggressive plays and scoring chances until finally they broke through.
With less than ten minutes remaining in the game, Ilya Hryc narrowed the lead by one goal. He took a centering feed from Ivashkin and beat Wildcards goalie, Jules Arquette, with a wrist shot to the blocker side.
Khimik aggressively pushed for the remainder of the game, trying to catch up to the Wildcards. But Andersen’s blast from the point clanged off the post wide, allowing the Wildcards to win narrowly with a 2-1 win.
“We’re fortunate to escape with the win,” said Wildcards Captain, Samuel Marquez. “We’re also fortunate for this next exhibition round as interest just keeps building. This new rink is fantastic, the ice was really good, and the fans were really into it today. Look forward to seeing how the other new colonies respond.”