Ice, Ice Baby (Under Pressure)

Ice, Ice Baby (Under Pressure)

Only the breath of the audience stood out against the blank, bleach-white ice. Faded red and blue tracings could be seen underneath the surface, like great water snakes frozen before they could find a den for hibernation from the biting cold inside Ballston Mall’s Kettler ice rink on Friday, November 7. After much rising anticipation, the players took the ice, skating from their respective benches, their face masks emanating a warrior-like ferocity through the grill and their gloved fists clenching their sticks, their weapons of choice. The players looked mean and almost angry while the crowd cheered in Roman fashion at the gladiatorial spectacle about to take place before their eager eyes. The puck is dropped and the game chugged on in a slow yet exhausting pace and only after Yorktown’s senior defenseman, number 72, Christian Pages sniped the second goal did the blood pressure start to noticeably rise.

Cut to the third period. Woodbridge took the puck from junior Teddy Dalquist and glided down the ice towards senior Lucas Degraw, backup goalie extraordinaire, weaving through the traffic of the Yorktown defense. Realizing the defensive integrity of the Yorktown ice hockey team, the Woodbridge Varsity player backed up and whipped a shot at the goalie. The black puck slipped past Degraw’s knee and his cat-like reflexes as well as his outstretched mitt. The visitors took a 4-3 lead at the 5:32 mark in the third period and a nervousness welled in the fans’ throats but Yorktown Ice Hockey’s courage and gung-ho strategy would soon calm those fears of the vinegary sting of defeat.

The rink was filled with high octane energy, the kind of electricity one would feel at the races or at the poker table. This was the quintessential and quite frankly, ordinary ice Hockey game at Kettler Duplex. But this time, there were no second chances, no doubling down to make up lost cash. Only the clock, ticking towards zero a little too quickly and the ice. Oh, how that ice sparkled brilliant and the players twisted their padded legs to and fro, like ballerinas of the old school, trained twenty hours a day in the middle of the brutal Ukrainian winter. The blessed majesty of those warriors on skates, barraging one another with the sheer momentum carried by their forms, the checking, sniping, the raw carnage of hockey’s beautiful savagery in all its glory brought the audience up to glass, screaming for more. And boy, did they get it.

             Senior Jonah Hoffman, on an intense two-on-two charge, cradled a masterful pass from his brother in arms and after a deke, slung the puck home into the Woodbridge net tying the game with 1:30 to go. The crowd went wild and many smiles and hugs and contorted faces of raging euphoria were exchanged but, alas, ninety seconds is a long time and Woodbridge, although wasting enough time for a comeback nearly impossible for Yorktown, slipped their fifth goal into the net, no doubt with much luck from the hockey gods with barely twenty five seconds to spare. What followed was a gallant, if fruitless effort by the Patriots to tie a truly exciting and unpredictable game. What is for certain, is the consistency of excitability with which the Patriots on ice deliver time and time again.

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