Nordique season ends with 2-2 shootout loss to Sting
July 1, Stamford, CT: Hearts are broken but the spirit remains intact.
The Nordiques skated to a 2-2 tie tonight against Sting, but lost the shootout. The result eliminated the Nords from the post-season, with a proud record of 8-4-2; but their heads are held high, and the team will likely will emerge in an upper tier next fall with the sole purpose of, as Rich Gioia delicately puts it, "kicking ass".
While the loss halted the Nordiques 6-year post-season streak since the team's inception, the guys grew closer nonetheless, as new players and veterans spent hours after the final spring-season game reminiscing on what was, what could have been, and what will be again.
Going into the game the Nordiques knew a win was necessary for the team's playoff hopes. The Nordiques scored first thanks to a nifty steal by James Delorey in the first period. While it seemed that the Nords would stay in control, in fact their the next goal didn't come till 0:47 left in the third, thanks to Jim Ondo, to tie the match at 2-2, thanks to Jim Ondo.
In tiebreaker shoot out, Jim Cook's lone goal was not enough to defeat Sting, and the hopes of a Nordique championship defense were extinguished.
Continuing a proud Nordiques tradition, the team awarded the Torchier trophy (a genuine Quebec Nordiques NHL trophy -- acquired on EBay!) to Peter DiMartino. The Torchier goes to the player who is recognized by teammates as best embodying the Nordiques identity and ethos.
Players said that Peter brings the passion every game. He's stands up for his teammates, and inspires them as well. In addition, Peter was among the top scorers on the team this season including a 6-game scoring streak.
Jim Cook, the last Torchier winner, presented the award to Peter after the game. His locker-room comments were moving and made more than a few Nordiques somewhat misty in the eyes. ("Cookie is quite the communicator--who knew!") completely unprepared, all Peter D! (the handle he prefers to to DiMart) could produce was humble surprise and about $100 for post-game beer.
Peter thanked all his team mates, especially his captain Ricky and co-captail Dougie, and Blum, Paulie, Cookie, Richie (a genuine wild man with absolutely NO FEAR), Billy, and Andrew, all who inspire him to play BIG and with relentless passion for his team and for the game.
Peter also noted that "the team owes a huge debt of gratitude to A-train [goaltender Anthony Gencarelli] who always gives us a chance to win. We love this guy and are very proud of him and very, very thankful he wears our sweater in goal."
Peter's last comment of the evening is one that will be remembered for a long time: "Boys, this game is about passion. If you bring the passion good things will happen".
The Nordiques will take the ice this summer as a ghost team, combining with other players in the league to form a temporary summer squad. The Nordiques will resume play as such for the winter season to defend their winter championship. Post-game write-ups will resume at that time.
The Nordiques collectively asked this reporter to publish the following: "A big thanks to you all across the US, Canada, and western Europe for your interest in following our team in Stamford, CT. But most of all, thank you Nordiques for putting-out and showing the best you have game after game. Spirit, tradition, comraderie and passion...indeed the Nordiques brotherhood lives on. Please visit www.nordiques.us for updates again in October, or twitter your favorite players anytime."
Nordiques edged 2-1 by Pub Crawlers in scrappy contest
June 28, Stamford, CT:The Nordiques came up on the short-end of a well-played 2-1 contest tonight against the Pub Crawlers. The loss drops the Nordiques record to 8-4-1 in a season that's taking seemingly forever to finish off. The spring schedule will go into the July 4 weekend just to complete 14 regular games.
Tonight, a numbers of Nordiques played a very gritty game, probably none more than Paul Modugno and Bill Farrell. The only Nordiques goal was netted by Peter DiMartino in the first period--a deceptive shot using the defender as a screen. (We've seen this before from the scrappy right winger.) He gave all the credit to Modugno who hit him with a long, perfect pass into the neutral zone. The rest was magic -- we can't find another explanation.
The Pub Crawlers tied the match in the second. Despite several nice saves by the A-train, the winner was scored with under a minute left in the game, perhaps the result of a less-than ideal line change by the Nordiques.
At the margin though, Pub Crawlers may have won the game because they had more players that wanted it more. In addition they demonstrated good puck support, control, speed, and plenty of grit of their own; characteristics normally displayed in abundance by Nordiques teams, but not tonight.
The game was filled with chippy play on both sides -- lots of hacking, slashing, elbowing, and shoving. The referees could have called penalties on both teams dozens of times, but were content to sit back and watch the teams go at each other, even in the face of a blatant, from behind, center-ice cross check that sent a Nordique player sprawling. The referees did step in, however, when one shoving match went too far and Bill Farrell exchanged fisticuffs with a Pub Crawler.
When the game ended, it was a bitter pill as the Nordiques watched their opponent celebrate loudly. One thing is clear, if the Nordiques cannot post a win on Wednesday against Sting, the playoffs -- and defense of the winter championship -- may be out of reach.
In post game interviews, the Nordiques showed uncharacteristic frustration with tonight's outcome. Hey Boys! Its gut-check time...again.
Nordiques cruise to 3-1 victory over Lightspeed
June 14, Stamford, CT: The Nordiques went to 8-3-1 after a 3-1 victory over Lightspeed in game 12. The game featured good goal tending, sound positional play and timely scoring by the Nordiques.
Lightspeed did all things well, but just couldn't score on Tommy, who along with Christina were the difference makers in this contest. Tommy stopped all but one Lightspeed shots, of which there were many; and Christina scored in the first 12 seconds, and then again in the second period -- her first two goals with the Nordiques team. Both pucks are on their way to Toronto for enshrinement.
The team was relieved to learn that even though Captain Rick will not return to the lineup this season, he will not need knee surgery, and is expected to be rehab'd sufficiently to rejoin the team next fall. Nonetheless, our captain was behind the bench barking out instructions and line changes...and tweaking the officials too. Rick had this to say to reporters after the game: "Great game last night. We all skated as a team and played almost a flawless positional game. The passing was good and we all gave great puck support".
The Nordiques' next contest will be on Sunday, Father's Day, against the Norsemen, who easily dismantled the Nordiques a few weeks ago.
Nordiques tough out 5-3 win over Puck Bandits
June 7, Stamford, CT: Following a tough 3-2 loss to the Nomads in game 10, the Nordiques rebounded tonight and skated to a gritty 5-3 win over a strong Puck Bandits team. The win brings the Nordiques season record to 7-3-1 with a few games left to play. It looks like the Nordiques will soon be on their way to the playoffs to defend their winter championship.
The Nordiques had to withstand a very effective Bandits forecheck tonight, and struggled on a few occassions to move the puck to the safety of neutral zone. In fact, much of the contest was played in Nordiques territory, but their defensive-minded approach managed to keep most of the Bandits' shots to the outside, while Tommy Flynn made the necessary saves to keep the Nordiques from falling behind. The Nordiques never trailed on the scoreboard, but were knotted at 2-2 at the end of 2 periods.
With a light bench of 2 forward and 2 defensive lines, the Nordiques managed to play a spirited game with good flow. It was gut-check time, though, when Nordiques captain Rick Gioia went down in the second period with what appeared to be a serious knee injury. Rick didn't return to action, but showed a lot of heart by staying with his squad on the bench for the remainder of the game.
The Nordiques made the most of their time in the offensive zone. Each Nordiques goal was big, and they netted five: 2 from Jimmy Cook, one from Peter DiMartino, and one apiece from the Farrell brothers. The Nordiques outscored the Bandits in the 3rd period 3-1 to take the game.
Nomads 3, Nordiques 2
June 3, Stamford, CT: (No game report available.)
Nordiques match Pub Crawlers 2-2, but lose shootout
May 16, Stamford, CT: The Pub Crawlers nearly called off he game due to a lack of available players, but were able to scrape up a squad to play, and a rather decent one at that. Their substitutes included a few tier 4 players, who were allowed to play, but some others suspiciously lacking helmet stickers were refused ice time by the referees.
Nevertheless, the game kicked off and it was generally agreed to be one of the more enjoyable games of the season, in part because the teams were evenly matched. The Pub Crawlers opened the scoring with a power-play goal, but the Nordiques responded quickly and the game remained tensely tied for some time. Then, Jim Cook had a clear breakaway, and after being egregiously hooked by a desperate Crawler defenseman, was awarded a penalty shot. The Crawler goalie make a spectacular save on the shot to deny the goal, receiving kudos from both teams as a result.
At the end of the regulation 3 periods, the score stood at 2-2, and as is the practice in Tier 6, a 5-goal shootout decided the nominal winner of the game. The Pub Crawler shooters did their job and took the win.
The Nordiques now have a 10-day layoff until their next game on May 27.
Nordiques thrash Ice Paddies 6-1
May 10, Stamford, CT: Nordiques kicked-off the second-half of the season with a convincing 6-1 win over a vastly improved Ice Paddy squad. The win puts Nordiques' record at 6-2.
With 3 games played in the past 5 days, and back-to-back games this weekend, there were plenty of wincing faces. The Nords did not have very good legs tonight, and the lopsided score was really a result of plain-old hard work. In fact, tonight was a testament to the Nordiques' work ethic, especially along the boards and in the corners. A little short on magic, very long on guts.
The Nordiques were fresh early, and jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first seven minutes. Their output dropped after that, scoring (a mere) 3 goals in the next 2 1/2 periods. To their credit, the Ice Paddies controlled play for stretches in the second-half of the game, but a very strong substitute net minder for the Nordiques, Tommy from Championship foe Sting, met all challenges until one slipped by him very late in the contest.
Nordiques are in action again next Saturday night against Pub Crawlers, another new team to the tier with designs on knocking the Nordiques out of the championship bracket. They will have their work cut out for them, as the Nordiques have outscored their opponents 11-2 this weekend.
Nordiques whip Nomads 5-1
May 9, Stamford, CT: Game 7 saw a rejuvinated Nordiques team put a whippin' on arch-rivals Nomads by a 5-1 score. The win was especially gratifying given their recent embarrassing loss to the Nomads, and a loss to the Norsemen coming into tonight's game. With half the spring season now in the books, Nordiques improved to 5-2 with tonights win.
A relatively short bench did not interfere with our energy or flow. Despite trailing by a goal at the end of the first period, Nordiques D-men tightened the screws and shut down their opponents for the rest of the match.
Jim Delorey broke the seal with our first goal in the second period; then 4 more goal scorers found the net including Jim Cook, Jimmy Ondo, Peter DiMartino, and Bill Farrell (shorthanded). Phil Rincand played an outstanding game tonight as well working very hard to assist in DiMartino's goal, and Rich Bruno had an outstanding game on the blue-line.
The game became quite a physical contest, and the Nomads were penalized several times for sending Nordiques to the ice via cross-checks, interference, and roughings. It didn't matter as Nordiques stood tall and played honorably. Towards the end of the contest our captain Ricky Gioia swiftly settled the score for his team shortly before being politely asked to leave the ice for the final 4 minutes of the contest.
The Nordiques have little time to rest as they are back in action with a Sunday/Mother's Day contest in the evening against an improved Ice Paddy's team. The Nordiques have done well in previous games scheduled on back-to-back nights, the most recent being their Championship game 2 and game 3 wins to end the winter season.
Nordiques fall to Norsemen 5-2
May 6, Stamford, CT: The Nordiques, perhaps wearied by an apparently endless succession of late night games, let in 2 quick goals in the first period in a contest against the Norsemen and were unable to get sustained momentum thereafter.
The refereeing was rather spotty and worked against the Nordiques. On two occasions penalties were called on the Nords when a Norseman simply fell, and appeared from the referee's angle that the skater was hooked or tripped; but in fact from the bench angle it was manifest that there was no contact at all. The injustice led to injury when on both occasions the Norsemen scored a power play goal. In addition, the Nordiques were denied a scoring opportunity when the linesman inadvertently called offsides even though the puck never left the offensive zone. The referee and linesman admitted the inadvertent whistle and an apology was offered, but play had been stopped and nothing could be done to restore the Nordique attack.
With 2 minutes left the score was 4-2, and the Norsemen capped with game with an empty net goal.
The Nordiques' next match is at a more reasonable hour this coming Saturday.
Nordiques outpace Lightspeed 4-1
April 29, Stamford, CT:Another late game on the schedule matched the Nordiques against long-time rival Lightspeed. In what was a lopsided contest by all measures except the final score, the Nordiques returned to its winning brand of hockey with a 4-1 win, improving the spring season record to, coincidentally, 4-1.
Much of the game was played in the Lightspeed zone and all 3 lines as well as the defense pounded Lightspeed's goalie with rubber all night. To his credit, he kept his team in the game.
At least 3 goals were scored by guys named Jim (Delorey, Ondo, and Cook), including one from the point. So many players came close with posts ringing seemingly throughout the contest. Clearly all three lines played strong.
Defense put in another fine performance, bolstered by a first time appearance on the blue line by Doug Eng. Doug, a reliable teammate and asst captain, is coming to terms with his final month as a bachelor. So learning to play some defense now seems appropriate. We think marriage will add some snarl to his game by the fall season, that's assuming he's still allowed to come out and play.
The offensive flow that was missing last game was clearly back tonight. The Nordiques will have to remain sharp as the schedule gets very difficult with 2 games against top teams next week.
Nordiques hammered by Nomads 6-2
April 24, Stamford, CT: In a hastily scheduled contest matching the Nordiques against the always tough Nomads, we took our first loss of the season tonight, reducing the Nordiques Spring 2009 record to 3-1.
With almost half of the team regulars unable to play, the plot was set for the Nordiques to get throttled. However, with a valient effort by rookie goaltender Russ "the snow-angel", the Nordiques managed to make a game of it, maintaining a 2-2 tie for about half the contest.
Thanks to the efforts of a number of willing subs, the Nordiques battled as Nordiques always do. Despite that, several players commented about the lack of flow in our offensive play. As well, a few Nordiques' goals were strangely disallowed by the officials.
At the final buzzer, the scoreboard read 6-2 in favor of the Nomads.
The Nordiques look to get back on the winning track Wednesday against longtime rivals, Lightspeed.
Nordiques skate to 9-3 win over Ice Paddies
April 22, Stamford, CT: The Nordiques advanced to 3-0 tonight in the 2009 Spring season. For the Nordiques it was a relatively easy win, and these come few and far between. After a 1-1 tie early in the first period, the Nordiques scored five unanswered goals and skated to a comfortable 9-3 win.
To their credit, the Ice Paddy squad skated hard throughout and enjoyed the match. They are a new team to tier 6 this season and are still coming together, off to an 0-3 start.
Nordique goal scorers tonight were many. Some notables were Jon Blumenfeld, a reliable and steady D-man who scored his first goal since the retirement of Bobby Orr, Jon's former defense partner. It was a laser from the blue line. Unfortunately for Jon, officials later that evening using high-def video replay awarded Jon's goal to NY Ranger Brandon Dubinsky. Jon was credited with 3 assists as a consolation prize, tying a team record.
Other notables in the scoring column were Andrew Vranos, flashing his trademark puck-handling skills, Jim Delorey (who has been awarded the nickname Mats Sundin by his teammates -- although he is not aware of this), and the entire second-line with Billy Farrell scoring on a hard-slapper, and setting up Doug Eng for a goal and Peter DiMartino for 2 goals (equaling the entire NY Ranger team output in its 2-1 victory over the Caps tonight). Observers agreed that DiMartino underachieved as usual, since he had about 17 opportunities at empty nets and missed almost all of them.
As always Nordique D was strong and Anthony Gencarelli stood tall in goal.
Nordiques take it to Nomads 4-3
April 8, Stamford, CT:The Nomads came stacked with ringers tonight, and were flying.
Despite an early 1-0 lead by the Nomads, the Nordiques did what they do best: Scored some ugly goals and made the night otherwise difficult for the Nomads.
The Noridiques had 4-2 lead late in the third period, but let in a weak goal with less than 1 min left. Nevertheless, the Nordiques were able to hang on to the win.
Peter DiMartino reported, "I can't imagine it gets any harder than it was tonight. A very satisfying win."
Nordiques defeat exhausted Sting squad 7-2
April 1, Stamford, CT: In the Spring 2009 opener, Sting was able to muster only 8 players, and so did not really have a chance against a relatively full Nordiques bench. The Nordiques scored early and simply wore down Sting as the game progressed.
Rich Gioia remarked, "Not the most satisfying win, but at least it gets the season off to a positive start."
"nos bras meutris vous tendent le flambeau, a vous toujours de la porter bien haut..."