Renegades take two
Renegades 6 Knights 5
Going into the night, the Renegades faced a very tall task of keeping up with the Knights for not just one, but two games. Despite the tough odds, seven other XHL teams would have liked to have been in their position starting at 7 p.m. last night. Game 1 on Monday did not go the Renegades way, but on Wednesday night, they had Pat Hunter back in the lineup and the Knights did not have Jordan Tosh in their lineup. The Renegade addition and Knight subtraction made all the difference, with the Renegades taking game 1 by a score of 6-5. The game went back and forth until the end. As stated in his pregame interview, Denny Stinchcomb thought his team needed to get off to a good start, which they did, taking a 3-1 lead at the end of the 1st period. The Knights co-captain Andy Calvert actually got the scoring started in game 1, but the Renegades would score 4 unanswered goals to take a 4-1 lead minutes into the 2nd period. Two of those goals came from Denny Stinchcomb, with Pat Hunter and Mike Lehman each contributing a goal as well. The Knights one-two punch in Andy Calvert and Kurt Schindler scored back to back goals for the Knights to draw them within 4-3 before Stinchcomb scored his 3rd goal of the game to put his team up 5-3. The Knights quickly answered though, and found their way back to even after goals in the later stages of the 2nd period from Jadon Stuart and Kurt Schindler. Late in the 2nd period, Pat Hunter found the back of the net again for the Renegades to put his team up 6-5 going into the 3rd period. Believe it or not, neither team scored in the 3rd period, despite several quality opportunities on both sides. Both goalies were busy throughout the night, seeing Josh Clontz make 35 saves for the winning team. Todd Schickling made 41 saves. A more detailed game summary can be found below:
Goals – Stinchcomb 3, Hunter 2, Lehman 1
Assists – Hunter 3
Goals – Calvert 2, Schindler 2, Stuart 1
Assists – Kline 2, Stuart 1
Saves – Schickling 41, Clontz 35
Scratches ----------- Rieder, Tosh
1st period: Calvert (1-0), Stinchcomb (1-1), Hunter (2-1), Lehman (3-1)
2nd period: Stinchcomb (4-1), Calvert (2-4), Schindler (3-4), Stinchcomb (5-3), Stuart (4-5), Schindler (5-5), Hunter (6-5)
3rd period: No goals
Renegades 11 Knights 9
With the Renegades game 2 victory, the two teams got to play in a do or die game 3. Fittingly, it was the 4th time in the XHL playoffs that a game 3 was necessary to decide who was going to move on. For the 4th straight time, the Renegades won when facing elimination, taking the 3rd and final game by a score of 11-9. It certainly didn’t look good for them for a while. The Knights jumped out to a 4-2 lead at the end of the first period and would eventually make it 6-2 in the 2nd period. In that first period,Tate Rutherford scored two goals for the Knights, with Andy Calvert and Kurt Schindler each scoring a goal as well. Pat Hunter scored both the Renegade goals in the 1st period. As stated above, the Knights eventually found their way up to a 6-2 lead following Rutherford’s 3rd goal of the night, and Calvert’s 2nd goal of the night. Pat Hunter would draw the Renegades within 3 after his 3rd goal of the night, then Denny Stinchcomb found the back of the net to get the Renegades within 6-4. It looked like the Knights were going to regain control again following a Kurt Schindler goal, but Mike Lehman’s half court shot found a way into the net at the 2nd period buzzer to draw the Renegades within 2 goals going into the 3rd period. All season long, the Knights have saved their best for the 3rd period, but last night’s 3rd period would end up costing them the championship. In that stretch, the Renegades scored 6 unanswered goals, including a penalty shot goal from Pat Hunter. With the Renegades down 7-5, Mike Lehman scored 2 quick goals to tie the game at 7, then teammate Pat Hunter scored 3 more goals, including that penalty shot goal mentioned above to put the Renegades up 10-7. Brandon Vollmer kept the momentum going scoring the Renegades final goal of the night to go up 11-7 with roughly 3 minutes to go in the 3rd period. The Knights didn’t go away and drew within 11-9 after goals from Jake Kline and Andy Calvert, but Renegade goalie Josh Clontz didn’t let the Knights draw any closer. Clontz made 32 saves to preserve the Renegades championship. Todd Schickling made 30 saves for the Knights. The final horn sounded with the Renegades taking the 2018 XHL Championship in their first season in the league. Pat Hunter was named MVP. Hunter scored 6 goals and 2 assists in the game 3 victory and led all playoff scorers despite having to sit out game 1 of the finals series. Following the game, Renegades captain Joe Spencer informed everyone that he was retiring, but would like to try to bring the Renegades back to defend their championship in 2019.
The 18th XHL season has officially completed. This season may have been the most exciting of them all. The top 6 teams in the standings were neck and neck all season long. While all six playoff spots were determined going into the final week of the regular season, five playoff positions were not decided until the final night of the regular season. The final game between the Yeti and Knights was a big determining factor in who got seeded where. Byes were at stake for both teams. Then there was the playoffs. As mentioned above, the league saw 4 do or die game 3s. The first round series between the Xtreme and Yeti went to overtime in game 3. Several regular season games were decided by a goal, several went to overtime and several went as far as a shootout. For the Knights, it was a tough way to end their season last night, but if anyone ever deserved to be co-champions, it was them. No team in any sport likes to finish in 2nd place, but they should hold their heads up high for the regular season and playoffs they had. In the past couple seasons, they were unable to get past the play in game, but they were able to overcome that after finishing first in the regular season. Take away that rough stretch in the 3rd period, they would have completed their goal as being xhl champions. Missing Jordan Tosh last night may have made the difference in the series. First year goalie Todd Schickling had a rough 3rd period as well, but he was a big reason why the Knights were able to make it this far. The league would like to congratulate the Knights for the season they had and for how well they represented the league throughout the season. The Knights presented the league with entertaining hockey all season long, including the finals.
As for the Renegades, what a great addition to the XHL. Their roster was posted back in March without too many of us knowing who many of their players were. Then there was opening night, when they beat the two time defending champion colonials by a score of 7-6. Then they beat the Yeti in overtime, and the Xtreme in overtime in that stretch when they started 6-0 before losing their first game to the Hooligans. Their 10-6 regular season finale win against the Xtreme clinched them a first round bye. But that first playoff game against the Hooligans could have been deflating for them after Eric Llewellyns overtime goal. Instead, the Renegades bounced back and won both games by a combined score of 25-10 setting up a finals match with the Knights. Game 3 against the Hooligans was a costly win though after learning they wouldn’t have their eventual MVP for game 1, in which the team lost 10-1. After losing by 9 goals in game 1, it appeared that even Hunter’s return wasn’t going to help them overcome the fastest team in the league, afterall, as valuable as Hunter was to his team, no guy could help a team make up 9 goals against an opponent as good as the Knights. As stated in a postgame interview, captain Joe Spencer said it was everyone’s worst game of the season. The odds were against the Renegades. Even if they won game 1, how were they going to have enough energy to win game 2? They held on to a 6-5 win in game 1, but then found themselves down 6-2 in game 2. It looked like they were running out of energy, but then there was the 3rd period. It was a fitting way for them to end their season, outscoring the Knights 6-2 in that final period. They were 4-0 in elimination games and they probably played in more overtime and one goal games than anyone in the league this season, but somehow, they found a way to win most of those games. The league didn’t know Pat Hunter and Mike Lehman real well back in April, but if there were co-mvp’s, these two were them. Captain Joe Spencer had a quiet statistical showing in the finals, but sometimes it takes a leader like him to keep a teams heads up whenever things are looking at its worst. Several times last night, we could hear him telling his team to keep their heads up and to give it their all. All season long, he was the leader the team needed to get them to last night’s championship celebration. Derrian Matchock played on some of the league’s bottom teams in the past, but he was a perfect role player for this team, along with Brandon Vollmer. Then there is Denny Stinchcomb. He was a bit hard on himself following a game 3 win over the Hooligans, but he was a big factor all season long, especially in game 2 last night. The team got down 1-0 early, but he scored 3 big goals in that 20 minute stretch to put his team in control of game 2. Game 1 was a rough game, but goalie Josh Clontz kept dancing to the music and was still dancing when his team faced a 7-4 late 2nd period deficit last night. On the night, his 67 combined saves turned out to go a long way in the teams wins last night. Some goalies get deflated after giving up goals that hurt their teams chances of winning, but Josh Clontz always kept his head up all season and made some big saves along the way. The league hopes all of these guys will be back in some kind of capacity next season. They were a big reason why the league provided so many exciting games this season. In the end, they got what they deserved, a 2018 xhl championship.
The league would like to thank everyone who participated this season. Back in 2001, the league was just getting started. Who would have known it would still be going in 2018? 2018 was probably the most exciting season the league has seen. Can the league go on for another 18 seasons? Right now, we will just worry about 2019, but it will be hard to top off the excitement the 2018 season provided for us.
A detailed game 3 summary can be found below:
Goals – Hunter 6 (including penalty shot), Lehman 3, Vollmer 1, Stinchcomb 1
Assists – Hunter 2, Lehman 2
Goals – Rutherford 3, Calvert 3, Schindler 2, Kline 1
Assists – Schindler 3, Stuart 2, Calvert 2
Saves – Clontz 32, Schickling 30
1st period: Hunter (1-0), Calvert (1-1), Rutherford (2-1), Hunter (2-2), Rutherford (3-2), Schindler (4-2)
2nd period: Calvert (5-2), Rutherford (6-2), Hunter (3-6), Stinchcomb (4-6), Schindler (7-4), Lehman (5-7)
3rd period: Lehman (6-7), Lehman (7-7), Hunter (8-7), Hunter (9-7), Hunter (10-7), Vollmer (11-7), Kline (8-11), Calvert (9-11)