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Sports exploits of the amazing Steadman children.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Panthers burn Leafs 4-2 for First Win of Season and of Defenseman Steadman's Career

Dateline: October 11, 2009.  Fresh off an 0-4 drubbing at the filthy rink in Addison, and sporting an 0-3 record to start the season, Tony Bertuca's GM Panthers 1 team arrived at the Franklin Park rink ready to play on Saturday.  A full squad for the first time this season, with starter Sebastian Hanulik back in goal and defenseman Sarah "Go-San" Steadman back on the ice, Panthers were looking for victory.  "The poor things never had a chance," one fan said.

Before the game, parent Paul Steadman was tapped to be the official scorer, and was herded to the officials' box rinkside.  "You have to be impartial," he was warned.  That proved harder than expected because of the exciting play that came next.

The first period started with a closely-fought scrimmage.  Alexander Babich was penalized 1:30 at 7:32 for tripping.  Just as the Leafs powerplay ended, center Sammy Holy scored on a nice pass from winger CJ Kruger and the Panthers were off to a 1-0 start.  With 2:17 to play Hanulik made a huge stop on a three-on-one Leaf breakaway and the period looked to be in the bag.  But you can never let down your guard in hockey -- the Leafs scored their first goal with just 27 seconds left in the period, and the teams went to the bench tied 1-1.

The Panthers scored early in the second period, on a goal by Giovanni Gulino off a Frankie Bertuca assist.  With about nine minutes to go in the period, Go-San Steadman made a brilliant defensive play, going from net to net faster than anyone else on the ice.  Then at the 8:10 mark, Steadman made another huge defensive play, slapping the puck away from a breakaway Leaf forward and preventing a sure goal.  But she fell, getting tangled in the Leaf skates and ended up with a 1:30 penalty.  Panthers coaches were unfazed:  "If that ever happens again, you do exactly the same thing," Coach Milan Hanulik was overheard advising his player.  Panthers killed the penalty, but Leafs managed a second goal shortly thereafter. 

Then with only 57 seconds left in the period, Kruger made a brilliant, unassisted steal and goal right in front of the Leaf goal, and the Panthers went into the second intermission with a 3-2 lead.

The third period featured a lot of banging, more than might be expected in a no-checking league.  Go-San Steadman and Holy were particularly physical, but the referees let the kids play and there were no more trips to the penalty box.  Gio Gulino scored an insurance goal at the 7:58 mark off passes from Bertuca to Holy, and Hanulik settled down to have a number of nice saves before the period ended. 

Panthers won, 4-2 for their first victory of the season -- and the first of Steadman's career.  "It was terrific," she said after winning a skull-and-crossed sticks sticker on her helmet for hustle.  "I was terrific.  Where's the next team? We are ready!"

The match would not have even been close but for the outstanding play of the Leafs' goalie.  Hanulik made some nice saves, but he was clearly bored for much of the match, all alone on his own end as the Panthers out-shot the Leafs by about 4-1.  Mike Sliwinski and Cosette Divinere, playing defense most of the match, had outstanding games showing excellent blocking and puck-handling.  Bertuca had a surprising number of excellent passes.  Panther fans hope the remainder of the season goes as smoothly.


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