The Mongolie Grillers had their bowls full with the upstart Stars in Interleague play last Tuesday (Feb. 5), grinding out a 4-3 win in a shootout.
In case you’re wondering, the Interleague exhibition monster still lives and breathes on account of commissioner Ian Pike’s dream of league expansion. The Stars team consists of - on any given night -an amalgamation of the Men’s A League Tapley’s Winterhawks roster and various journeyman hockey players from the Rec League.
The Grillers drew first blood in the exhibition game early in the second period with a quick wrist shot from team captain Chris Miron. Phil Marsden was able to corral the puck off an errant pass from the opposition and fed a streaking Miron down the left side. Miron was able to employ his signature high wrist shot over the blocker of the Stars goaltender.
The teams traded goals twice in the second period to end the scoring at 2-2 going into the third. John Smith of the Stars, who normally is the go-to guy for the Rec League’s Timber View Bruins, opened the scoring for his side, assisted by Tapley’s regular Matt Callaghan.
The Grillers answered with a goal from newcomer Travis McMaster, drawing assists from the Marsden and Miron combo. The Stars ended the second-period scoring with a nifty goal by Callaghan, who received a one-timer set up by Smith and Kristopher Cooper 20 seconds after the Grillers goal.
The second period ended in some controversy as the Stars had a goal called back due to an early whistle, with the puck squeezing over the line but not in time to be credited. Following a referee huddle at centre ice, the goal was called off, much to the consternation of the Stars bench.
The third period had the Grillers open the scoring once again as forward Mike Orr made good on a heavy slap shot from the point, assisted by Ryan ’The Hammer’ Hampton. The Stars answered quickly, taking advantage of a Grillers line change debacle to score 30 seconds later with a goal from Aaron Marlow to tie the game at 3-3.
As time wound down it was evident the Grillers were happy to go to the shootout as the short bench took its toll on their veteran legs. In the shootout, Hampton was the lone goal-scorer out of six shooters, giving the Grillers the victory. Goaltender Ryan Conway turned aside 26 shots for the win.
With the Interleague series now complete, commissioner Pike will be hard at work trying to recruit new teams for next year’s Men’s A League, which will also be helped by advising all players that you can play in both hockey leagues, as long as you have the time and money to pay your fees.
In past years, the leagues had an unwritten rule where a player could choose only one league to play in. But the door is now open for more teams to be created as players are no longer restricted to one league exclusively.
Now, back to the regular season: The Blacks Pub Marmots remain first in the Rec League standings despite suffering a 4-2 loss to the hard-charging Blackcomb Blackhawks on Monday (Feb. 11). The Marmots hold a one-game lead with 38 points over the Blackhawks and Summitsport, who both have 36 points from 24 games played.
In Monday’s game, Blackhawks Dave Brownlie and Mike Blanshard netted two goals apiece in the win. Blackhawks goalie Mike Hashimoto earned his 17th win of the season, turning aside 27 shots.
The Blackhawks face Summitsport on Friday (Feb. 15) at 11:30 p.m. in a grudge match to determine second place.