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Sports exploits of the amazing Steadman children.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Panthers Streak Ends at 10 With Loss to Bruins

Dateline: January 4, 2010, Addison Ice Arena.  The battle-weary Panthers finally dropped a game this afternoon. Riding a 10 game win streak into the match, the Panthers had played 8 games over a holiday break that included two huge, emotional wins over the Blackhawks and three league wins to catapult them to the top of the division 3 standings. But they couldn’t keep the momentum as the Bruins stole some thunder.

Playing at home, the first two periods went pretty much as planned. Coach Tony Bertuca mixed up his lines, giving the start to center CJ Kruger with forwards Zander Babich and Vince Pelini, and anchored on defense by Sammy Holy.

The Bruins drew first blood with a goal at 9:23, but the Panthers roared back. Gulino made it 1-1 less than a minute and a half later with a nice chip in shot, and the period ended tied.

Bertuca used the intermission to issue fresh battle instructions, and the Panthers immediately capitalized with a goal at 9:39 in the second. The defense was stout in the second period, defenseman Sarah Steadman leading the way with several steals and hammering the boards. The Panthers scored again at 3:57 and Gio Gulino got a third goal at 1:54, and the Panthers looked like they were on cruise control. Gulino scored a last-second shot at the buzzer, and the Panthers led 4-1 going into the second intermission.

Then all hell broke loose. The Bruins’ defense stiffed, chasing the puck often 4- or 5- on one. And the tired Panthers couldn’t keep up. Holding the Panthers offense in check, the Bruins offense scored at 8:31. The Panthers gave up a tripping penalty at 6:03 but looked safe when the Bruins committed a matching offense at 5:43 and the teams were each at four-man strength. But as the penalties expired, the Bruins managed another goal at 3:50, and a fourth goal to tie the match seconds later at 2:56.

Coach Bertuca called a timeout, but his tired team could not rally. The Bruins scored a fifth, and decisive goal at 2:23. They lobbed in a meaningless sixth goal at the buzzer, and the Panthers went home crying with a 6-4 loss.

Several fans voiced their ire at the referees in what was later questioned. “These kids didn’t lose because of the refs,” said one parent. “They dropped a game because they were tired.”

“It’s no cause for alarm,” said defenseman Sarah Steadman after the match. “It was a hard game, on the road, and we came up a little short. It happens. Hell, no one in the NHL gets an 11-game win streak and we were not likely to either. We’ll get them back at home in Franklin Park in two weeks.”

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