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Sports exploits of the amazing Steadman children.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

GM Panthers Bag Leafs Again


Dateline January 3, 2010, Leafs Ice Center.  Fresh off their victory at the Orland Park holiday tournament and riding a nine-game win streak, Coach Tony Bertuca’s GM Panthers 1 team were sharp and ready for action this afternoon. Starting the Sliwinski-Gulino-Bertuca line that performed so sharply over the holidays, the team looked to capitalize on a smaller, slower Leafs team. “Not only were they small and slow,” said one fan, “I think they are dulled by being coddled. Have you seen their facility? There are Olympic National teams that don’t have such nice ice. But they have it all. I think that probably costs them an edge.”

The Panthers started quick, hammering the Leafs with their characteristic tough defense. Defenseman Sarah Steadman was active from the start, blocking shots and stealing the puck. The offense took that defensive energy and capitalized early, with center Mike Sliwinski scoring on a pass from Gulino three minutes into the first period. A glove-bump ensued. Gulino capitalized on a Leaf mistake near the end of the first period, lifting the puck past the home goalie and making it 2-0 at the buzzer for the first intermission.

In the second period, the Leafs fought back. Following a breakaway and nice shot by second line center CJ Kruger, the Leafs picked up the puck on the rebound and broke the other direction, scooting a shot past goalie Sebastian Hanulik to make it 2-1. Then it was all Panthers. Forward Vince Pelini scored at 5:49 in the second, and Kruger scored at 4:32 to put them game safely away at 4-1.

The Panthers got a huge chance for glory late in the second period, when the Leafs committed two quick fouls. With 3:36 on the clock, the Leafs had two men in the box and the Panthers had a 5-on-3 powerplay. Kruger, playing on a line with Gio Gulino, capitalized on the advantage with 17 seconds left in the second power play and 2:23 left in the second period to make it 5-1.

Coach Bertuca mixed his lines with some experimental combinations in the third period. That resulted in a meaningless Leaf goal with 8:08 left to play. Cosette Divinere, playing center, had a nice shot near the end of the match that was just blocked by the Leaf goalie, and the Panthers prevailed 5-2. “A facility like that is for sissies,” said Divinere. “You get used to being coddled like that, and you forget how to play smash-mouth hockey.”

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