Beaten and Tired, ‘Dores Scrape Together Big SECHC Wins

Like the rest period the VU Hockey team had between its games against South Carolina last Friday (at 9:30pm) and Saturday (at 9:30am), this week’s recap will be short, sweet, and full of drama. Playing with a short bench and missing loads of firepower, the Frozen Commodores of Davidson County, TN, notched two wins against the University of South Carolina Gamecocks in their first SECHC contests of the season.

Before a raucous crew on Friday and a decidedly more benign crowd on Saturday, Vanderbilt gutted its way through injuries and exhaustion to ensure that the bus ride – yes, you read that right, BUS ride – back to Nashville would be an upbeat one. “It was so awesome to fire home the game winner and know that we’d have smiles on our faces for the nine hour trip back to campus,” said sophomore transfer Brad Pesce. “Our celebratory Chick-fil-a tasted even better than it normally does!”

Friday Night Recap

The weekend started off with a bang as the Vanderbilt team roared out to a 3-0 first period lead. Pesce and graduate MBA student Ryan Weekes started off the scoring flurry with their first goals in a Vandy uniform, each coming on special teams (the power play and penaly kill, respectively). Kyle McCann followed with a third, also on the power play.

“At that point, I think we thought we were going to cruise,” said freshman defenseman Harry Londoff. “But as my pappy always says, ‘Not so fast my friends!’ That game was just getting started.” (Point of clarification: Londoff’s pappy is in fact not Lee Corso, ESPN College Gameday analyst. Pappy is simply an admirer of Mr. Corso’s work.)

South Carolina broke the ice with a goal halfway through the second period and the two teams proceeded to trade blows up to and through (literally) the final buzzer of the third. The game ended only moments before South Carolina trickled a shot in past the Commodores goal line that would have tied the contest.

“The puck rolled up my shoulder kind of in slow motion,” said senior goalie Brenden Oliver. “Would that have gone in had there been 10 extra seconds on the clock? I’d like to think my brain would have willed my body to make the save, that the buzzer sounding essentially triggered an instant transformation into celebratory, ‘floor seats at the Taylor Swift concert’ Brenden. But honestly? I think we just got lucky.”

The frenetic pace of the final two minutes was made all the more dramatic by the Commodores bench which failed to manage its personnel properly. With a minute left in the game, the Vanderbilt and South Carolina clubs each having a player in the penalty box, and the Gamecocks pulling their goalie, Vandy skated four players plus a goalie against five and an empty net for USC. Upon seeing the five Gamecock skaters and thinking that the Vandy side was short-handed, one of the Commodores (who shall remain nameless) hopped onto the ice to even the tilt. Thankfully, the player jumped back on the bench as quickly as he had jumped off, likely because Coach Bernstein lost his mind at the lapse in judgement, and the referees missed the “too many men” call.

Who did not miss the call? An incensed South Carolina bench led by first year coach Brian Bauman (who, I should note, provided us with tremendous hospitality throughout the entire weekend … thanks Brian!). Their pleads for justice and retribution fell on deaf ears, however, and the game proceeded with its existing numbers.

“Not our best performance,” said a gruff Bernstein after the game who, in spite of the win, was more than mildly upset at the chaos of the final moments. “In this one instance, I’m glad we have a game in 11 hours so we can redeem ourselves.”

Thrill-ina in South Carolina

A stretch of a headline here? In the rhyming sense, absolutely, but in terms of summing up Saturday morning’s clash I would say a Muhammad Ali-esque title is altogether appropriate.

“I could barely keep my eyes open,” said freshman defenseman Logan Johnston who, along with Londoff and sophomores Jim Butler and Alan Leeser, played every other shift for both games. “I’m used to 15- or 17-minute periods in games. That extra 3- to 5-minute addition each period makes a huge difference, especially when you play back to back.”

The game started off slowly for both teams with the first period ending in a 0-0 tie. That pattern veered sharply in the second when South Carolina jumped up to a seemingly insurmountable two-goal lead. Said senior captain Matt Kaminsky, “Our energy level was just way down. We needed a breather, some tunes, and a little reminder of what Vanderbilt hockey is all about.”

And what might that be?

“The third period,” said Kaminsky. “Our period.”

It certainly proved to be the case as Leeser, who played defense for most of the weekend, swapped roles on the front line with senior Tom Trepanier and quickly scored to cut the lead in half. Trepanier followed with his own magic, slicing in from the point to one-time a cross-ice pass from Kaminsky to tie the game at 3-3. The game stayed knotted at that score until the Gamecocks stuffed home a workman-like rebound at the two minute mark. Again, the ‘Dores found themselves with another hole to climb out of.

Explained sophomore forward Kyle Stachowiak, “We called a timeout and lined up a play for the last minute of the game. We pulled Brenden, and for a face-off in the zone we had McCann match-up on the dot and had Alan stay high on the circle. McCann was supposed to win the puck back to Alan, Alan was supposed to shoot it, and Matt [Kaminsky] and Brad [Pesce] were to crash the net to stuff home any rebounds.”

“It worked to perfection. Alan got the shot, Matt corralled and dished the rebound, and Alan lit the lamp.”

0:18 on the clock. 4-4 tie.

First Overtime of the Season

The game ended with a Messier-like proclamation, a Bambino-like performance, a Namath-like moment. If you can think of other iconic New York sports moments, please go ahead and conjure them as they are all appropriate in the context of Westchester, NY, native Brad Pesce’s prophetic statement prior to the start of overtime, “Boys, we’re not losing this game.” He was right because, after taking a shot that nearly splashed the back of the net seven seconds into the extra session, Pesce himself scored the game winner just thirteen seconds into overtime.

“What a way to end the weekend,” said an exhausted but jubilant Pesce. “Awesome stuff, can’t wait for our next set of games!”

Weekly Thank You’s

Big thanks go out to Mr. Charles Lassiter, our bus driver for the venture down to Columbia. In addition to being a crackerjack navigator and an absolutely wonderful man, Mr. Charles was also a bestower of countless nuggets of wisdom such as, “Remember that the chickens stay in the garden during the day and the pot in the evening,” and, “You can always do difficult, it’s the impossible that takes a while.” He also said, “I’ll tell you what boys, I’m not taking you all this way to lose!” Mr. Charles, we appreciate you adding to the experience and hope that we can have you captain the VU hockey ship to a future game later this season!

Also, a pre-thank you goes out to junior Stephen Mozur who, in his role as secretary, will be examining the pros and cons of taking buses to the club’s games. Early editing of Mr. Mozur’s work has yielded a healthy buzz of anticipation throughout the locker room so stay tuned to for his submission.

Finally, we would like to thank everyone for their continued support of the team and to let you know that we’ll be back on the ice this weekend facing off against Georgia State (Friday, 9/30, at 8:10pm) and Georgia Tech (Saturday, 10/1, at 3:40pm). If you’re in or around the Atlanta area, please come check us out!

Game Information
Date & Time: Friday, September 23rd, 2011 at 9:30pm ET
Location: IcePLEX – Irmo, SC
Attendance: 120

1 2 3 F &#9733
Kyle McCann (C): 2 goals, 1 assist
VU 3 1 1 5 &#9733&#9733
Brenden Oliver (G): 49 saves
SC 0 3 1 4 &#9733&#9733&#9733
Jordan Zauderer (RW): 1 goal, 1 assist
First Period Scoring Summary
Time: Team:
Scoring Detail:
15:42 VU
Pesce (1) – Stachowiak
1 0
6:46 VU
Weekes (1) – Unassisted
2 0
4:03 VU
McCann (2) – Stachowiak, Butler
3 0
Second Period Scoring Summary
Time: Team:
Scoring Detail:
10:01 SC
Gjetley – Wiant, Lancaster
3 1
4:19 VU
Zauderer (1) – McCann
4 1
1:38 SC
Jonas – Foster
4 2
Third Period Scoring Summary
Time: Team:
Scoring Detail:
16:53 SC
Brown – Swint, Clark
4 3
11:31 VU
McCann (3) – Zauderer
5 3
0:27 SC
Lancaster – Whitmeyer, Wint
5 4

Game Information
Date & Time: Saturday, September 24th, 2011 at 9:30am ET
Location: IcePLEX – Irmo, SC
Attendance: 60

1 2 3 OT F &#9733
Brenden Oliver (G): 46 saves
VU 0 1 3 1 5 &#9733&#9733
Brad Pesce (RW): 1 goal, 2 assists
SC 0 3 1 0 4 &#9733&#9733&#9733
Alan Leeser (D): 2 goals
First Period Scoring Summary
Time: Team:
Scoring Detail:
No scoring
Second Period Scoring Summary
Time: Team:
Scoring Detail:
12:29 SC
Wiant – Swint, Lancaster
0 1
5:43 VU
Londoff (1) – Butler, Kaminsky
1 1
2:19 SC
Lancaster – Swint
1 2
0:33 SC
Lancaster – Brown, Wiant
1 3
Third Period Scoring Summary
Time: Team:
Scoring Detail:
15:43 VU
Leeser (2) – Pesce, Kaminsky
2 3
12:23 VU
Trepanier (1) – Kaminsky, Pesce
3 3
3:04 SC
Andony – Brown, Swint
3 4
0:18 VU
Leeser (3) – McCann, Kaminsky
4 4
Overtime Scoring Summary
Time: Team:
Scoring Detail:
4:47 VU
Pesce (2) – Kaminsky
5 4

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