At a certain point watching a game, fans become aware of a great game. At the start of the third period, fans, players, coaches, even the rink maintainers were intently watching.
The third period opened with Shattuck-St. Mary’s coming out to attack the Rough Rider’s goal. For the first minute they succeeded. But then the Rough Riders started to force the play, getting physical and attacking the Sabre’s zone. That brief flurry didn’t last, but it slowed the Sabre’s attack.
The Sabres became tentative and for the next few minutes, the game pace slowed. Most of the play was in the neutral zone as Shattuck-St. Mary’s struggled to get their offense going. With the game clock just under 10 minutes, the Sabre’s finally started to roll and the Rough Riders fell back into a penalty kill box defense with a single forward in the slot, their defense looked like a 5 on a dice.
Five or not, the Sabre attack still could not beat the stubborn Rocky Mountain defense. When Shattuck drew a penalty a few minutes later, the Rough Riders kept to their “shell-like” defense and didn’t try to establish puck control in the Sabre zone. It cost them this time.
Shattuck offense used the extra ice to generate speed. They scored to tie the game 3-3 just as the penalty was ending. Lown scored the goal from the weakside crease, Clayton Keller and Mason Palmer got the assists. Shattuck had finally caught the Rocky Mountain defense out of position. With two minutes left on the clock, game on.
Shattuck did everything to win the game in the last two minutes of regulation, even pulling their goalie. But they couldn’t beat the Rough Rider defense. The game went into overtime. Oddly, the game became more transitional in the overtime. Both teams moved the puck. With a little over a minute left, the Rough Riders scored the game winner. They crashed the Sabre goal scoring off a melee in front of the Shattuck net. Samuel Cole got the game winning goal; Kurtz got the assist.
Shattuck lost 4-3. It was a great game.
In a discussion with John LaFontaine, the Sabre’s coach, before the game he talked about hockey and Shattuck and the pending game with the Rough Riders. Hockey can be a passion for some people like John, such that hockey is all they want to do. As we talked, one could see that John still had a passion for the game and that he had sorted out hockey in his life.
He takes his coaching seriously, but he appreciates the kids he coaches for what kids are and what the kids can be. As a former coach at the junior level and having played college hockey, he understands the next level and the commitment it takes to play there.
John is the older brother of Pat LaFontaine, NHL hall of famer, which some would say is more of a burden than a gift.
The two brothers played on the same teams when they were young. When asked how he felt being an older brother on a peewee team with a younger brother that got all the attention, John described his brother as a gift to him and others; not a burden.
It is what brothers should be.
Merry Christmas to Shattuck-St. Mary’s