The final stretch of the season is important for all teams. The top 4 teams are within a point of each other and are all hoping to clinch a first round playoff bye. The bottom 4 teams are within 2 points of each other and wish to make the playoffs. 6 of the 8 teams make it.
12:00 ALL INDIA vs HENRY SINGER
To the extent possible, we sympathize with All India. They are a group of savvy veterans who care greatly about making the playoffs. Their captain has been proactive on the trade front, doing what he thinks is necessary to make the playoffs.
Unfortunately, they played a Henry Singer team today which is backstopped by Balraj Khosah. Balraj is having a monster season and today he stole 2 points from All India. He stood on his head during several quality scoring chances and allowed Henry Singer to survive All India’s first half onslaught.
All India was the better team in the first half. But they couldn’t score. With three minutes left in the first, HS scored a goal which deflated AI. Gagan Khaira, had the ball on the right half boards, he found Sonny Sekhon who was about 4 feet in from the blue line near the slot area. He turned and fired a shot that projected straight at the goalie’s pads and ricocheted in. Goalie could of had it, but there was traffic in front of him.
Second half was a different story.
HS carried the play and enjoyed quality possession deep into All India’s zone. All India looked gassed. It was Akash Mehta who made it 2-0 with 6 minutes left. After working it around well, Akash took a shot from the slot, the goalie did well to make the initial save but the rebound found Akash and he buried.
All India showed perseverance and looked like a good bet to score once they pulled their goalie and played with 6 attackers. They did just that. Inder Sangha found a rebound which came from a Rob Gakhal shot with 1 minute left and Inder made no mistake. 2-1.
That is all she wrote. With the loss, All India will probably have to run the table to make the playoffs and hope that the other three teams do poorly during the final stretch.
1:00PM VACUUMS vs ART CUSTOM HOMES
Two of the top teams squared off and we expected a tight checking low scoring affair.
Goals were scored, a direct result of some turnovers.
Gurjot Sidhu opened up the scoring 4 minutes into the game. A turnover near the left wing bounced to him while he was positioned in the slot. He took a slap shot, didn’t get all of it but the accuracy was pinpoint. Straight into the top corner. 1-0.
The second Vacuums goal was scored by captain Bob Banga. It was similar to Gurjot’s. Sewak Lalli found him open in the slot, he took a shot, it looked like the goalie did enough to stop it but it trickled in.
Art Custom Homes scored their lone goal after a Vacuums defender was stripped in his own half by Manjot Jaggi. The ball traveled to the corner and was picked up by Sunny Matharu, Matharu found Jaggi who went forehand backhand on goaltender Gopi Rai. Nice display of hands by Jaggi on that shift.
ACH took more shots 20-15 but couldn’t get that second goal. With 12 seconds left Manny Grewal sealed the win scoring an empty netter. Wooos were had.
With the win, Vacuums jumps up in the standings, closer to a first round bye.
2:00PM PIZZA 38 vs GALLO
This was a crucial game for both teams who are fighting each other for the final playoff spot. Pizza 38 is coming off an enthralling come from behind win last week whereas Gallo got dominated in their last outing.
Gallo had a short bench for this one. Short bench after a Friday night in the soccer centre sauna, not a recipe for success.
However, they played good hockey for the first 10 minutes of the first half. In fact, it was Jason Heer, fed by Deep Sangha from the corner, who made it 1-0 after one-timing a shot from the slot five hole on Joe Sandhu. Jason Heer played like his old self in this one.
8 minutes later Pizza 38 tied it up. It was a backbreaking goal for Gallo. Sanjay Sarkar had the ball behind the net, he threw it in front and it hit goaltender Mike LeBlanc’s own stick and trickled in. Bad break.
After that goal, it was all Pizza 38 and they scored just two minutes later. Sanjay had the ball down low, found Mani Sira who made no mistake from the slot area.
Gallo was exhausted and looked defeated but their defence kept them in the game as the team couldn’t break out of its own zone. Pizza 38 was playing good hockey quarterbacked by Ricky Grewal and P38 looked destined to win this massive game.
However, An individual effort by Jas Sadhra changed the momentum. He retrieved the ball from his own zone, beat a defender along the boards and got it to Jason Heer. Jason Heer tried finding him for a pass and it was deflected in the air. Once the ball dropped a foot from the right point, he ripped a slap shot which went bottom left. 2-2.
The score remained 2-2 until 5 minutes left. This is typically when Gallo is scheduled to collapse. Somehow today, the opposite occurred. Deep Sangha took the ball near the left wing, and shot it towards net. Rookie Shishu Rajput showed exceptional hand eye coordination and re directed it right before in front of the goalie. Goalie had no chance. Can’t think of a bigger moment to score your first PBHL goal.
Pizza 38 pulled their goalie and applied lots of pressure for the equalizer. Nav Dhillon was everywhere blocking shots. When he was off, the tandem of Mike LeBlanc and rookie Karn Sharma blocked multiple quality scoring chances. Sunny Khaira iced this game by scoring an empty netter from his own zone. Captain Deep Sangha enjoyed a 3 assist game.
3:00PM EYES vs FANCY
Eyes needed this game badly. They were in tough against a strong Fancy team. To Eyes’ credit, they played good defensively. Which is not a surprise, they always play good defensively. It is their offence that is lacking. Eyes had scored 16 goals in 10 games. They have scored the least amount of goals in the league and 1.6gpg could be a PBHL all-time low.
Same story today.
Henry Singer scored the first goal. Kik Brar received a pass from Navdip Goldy Khinda at the point. He ripped a slapshot that evaded traffic in front and found the back of the net. Nice shot.
Anoop Sahota had himself a fine game. He would quickly nip any Eyes’ attack in the bud before it got started.
He made one mistake by taking an unnecessary penalty after Preet Sandhu did well to clear the zone and dump the ball in.
Eyes could and should have converted on the ensuing power play. Instead, it was recently acquired Navi Brar that made his presence known on the pk by scoring a shorty. He picked off a pass near his own blue line. Split two defenders with pace then went forehand backhand before sliding it passed goalie Raj Grewal.
2-0. Raj Grewal flashed the leather to keep it from being 3-0 but Eyes just doesn’t have the horses upfront to battle from behind.
In summary, ACH is playing worse and are in danger of losing their first round bye which was all but guaranteed a few weeks ago. Vacuums is playing better again. Gallo won a huge game but Pizza 38 shouldn’t be too discouraged considering Eyes and All India also lost.
The first two byes are up for grabs and I predict that Vacuums and Henry Singer will finish with those byes.
The final playoff spot will be a battle between All India, Eyes and Pizza 38.
As such, further games will have a playoff feel and be very heated. We remind players to keep their composure at all times, we would hate to see guys miss playoffs because of poor decisions. See you next week. Hydrate Friday night, it gets hot in the centre.