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Slap Happy Saving Their Best For Last

Monday, April 3rd Results

Slap Happy 7 Eagles 4

Knights 5 Colonials 4

Slap Happy 7 Eagles 4

When it comes to hockey, anything can change on any given night. That proved to be the case last night when the Slap Happy swept the Eagles and moved onto the Finals for a 2nd straight season. The Eagles outscored them 14-5 in the 2 regular season games and completely outplayed them in both games, but the Slap Happy may have had an edge going into last night considering they had to win 2 games last week just to get a chance of playing the Eagles last night. Bye weeks may be good in pro sports when teams are trying to get their key guys healthy, but not so good in the XHL. Regardless, it would have taken a teams best performance to beat the Slap Happy last night. Joe Bussard led the way in both games, but they got some big goals from each of the Pompeii’s, along with Derik Day and Dave Jewell. They only had one sub but that may have been to their advantage considering the ones who were there had a chance to stay in a groove throughout each game. The first game was tied at 2 after the 1st period, but the Slap Happy scored 3 unanswered goals to go up 5-2 midway thru the 2nd period. They only scored 5 goals in 2 games during the season but it only took them a little over half a game to score 5 goals last night. Austin Boyd had a nice goal to close the gap to 5-3 and Jerred Amick scored soon after to close the gap to 5-4 going into the 3rd period, but that’s as close as they would get. Adam McKinley was back in his usual playoff form and played a big role in each win last night. Neither team scored for a while in the 3rd period until the Slap Happy scored 2 goals later in the period to pull of the 7-4 win. In an interview with Henry Sutter, he said he couldn’t see his way around Joe Bussard all night.

In the 2nd game, Slap Happy jumped out to a 2-0 lead at the end of the first period. Once again, Joe Bussard got the scoring started. Around the midway point of the 2nd period, Alex Waddell made a nice move on Adam McKinley to close the gap to 2-1 but the momentum was short lived when Slap Happy scored again to make it 3-1. Cody Schuckers scored 2 goals later in the period to close the gap to 4-3 but he was injured late in the 2nd period and was not able to return. While the Eagles scored a power play goal to tie the game at 4 going into the 3rd period, the loss of Cody was too much to overcome. Joe Bussard and Dave Jewell scored goals for the Slap Happy in the 3rd period to put the game away. Slap Happy were playing without Jason Duttry and Nate May last night. The Eagles played the first game without Zach Foradori. Dave Jewell’s stick got caught around Cody Schuckers on the play that he was injured on. There have been some really good #1 seeds that have recently gotten knocked off in the XHL playoffs. Two Knights teams were knocked off in the playoffs back before the Covid year. During the covid non xhl season, the Xtreme had a dominant regular season only to get knocked off by the Renegades in the playoffs. Once the playoffs start, anything can happen and the Slap Happy saved their best for when it mattered most. If they play in the finals like they did last night, the loser of the Colonials/Knights series may be much better off. Game 1 and Game 2 of the championship will be played on April 17th at 6:30 and 8.

The Knights are one win away from a return trip to the finals after a 5-4 win over the Colonials last night. Neither team scored for the first 14 minutes, but Phil Mace snuck a great wrist shot past Knights goalie Clint Lingenfelter in the closing minute of the first period. The Colonial lead was short lived when Andy Calvert scored early in the 2nd period to tie the game at 1. About 5 minutes later, Brandon Reiter intercepted a pass from Kevin Smith (Smith thought it may have hit the ceiling and kind of gave up on the play) and snuck a slap shot past Tim Herman to give the Knights a 2-1 lead. The Colonials later tied the game at 2 when Kevin Smith took a pass from Brian Anderson at half court following a blocked shot. Smith was able to gain some separation to beat Clint Lingenfelter to tie the game at 2. Soon after, Andy scored again for the Knights to make it 3-2 but Kevin Smith scored soon after on a nice set up from Bob Anderson to tie the game at 3 going into the 3rd period. Once again, Andy gave the Knights the lead about 5 minutes into the 3rd period and they would add to the lead when Brandon Reiter took the ball the length of the court after a couple colonial missed shots on the other end to make it 5-3. Reiter’s goal forced the colonials to use a time out. The time out appeared to work when Phil Mace scored with around 4 minutes to go to close the gap to 5-4. Despite some chances to tie the game late, the Colonials were unable to score the tying goal in the closing minutes. Game 2 will be Monday night at 630 with a potential game 3 at 8. The Colonials and Knights have played 4 games this season with the last 3 games being decided by a goal. A little different version of the Knights made the finals back in 2018 but they fell to the Renegades in game 3. They made the finals again in the covid, non xhl season in 2020 but their rematch with the Renegades was not finished. The Colonials will need to win twice on Monday to set up a rematch of last years series. Joe Bussard was not able to play in that series due to an illness. Even with the top team now eliminated, there should be some good hockey yet to come in these next 2 weeks.

Kevin Smith (Colonials)

1. 5 to 4 loss to the Knights last night. What can you say about the overall team effort? I thought the effort was good from our team, we had a couple bounces to the wrong way

2. How do you think the team did trying to contain Brandon? Over all I think we did a good job limiting Brandon’s free looks. He is going to get chances no matter how well you play him

3. You injured your knee a couple weeks ago against the Eagles. How did it feel after the game was over last night? Yeah, it was pretty banged up after that game. I struggled to put weight on it for about a week. I was a little nervous going into the game but it held up good and feels good today!

4. What positives can you take out of the game going into next week? Really I don’t think there is much to be ashamed about. I know a couple plays that in screwed up that cost us 2 goals and I missed a couple opportunities that I feel like I should have capitalized on. So with that said I think if we play the same way I like our chances of being competitive again!

5. You reffed the Slap Happy/Eagles game last night. Were you surprised the Slap Happy won both games against them? . I would say that I am a little surprised because of how good the Eagles were all year. Slap Happy has some veteran players that have won a lot of big games in this league and that means a lot in the playoffs. They have played really well for about a month, that showed last night. Adam seems to have found his groove again as well. They will be a tough out for whoever gets them in the finals!

Henry Sutter (Eagles)

1. 2 disappointing losses tonight. What do you think went wrong especially in the first game when they got up early? We started really slow coming off the bye. They forechecked hard, forced us into some turnovers, and kept the pressure up for all six periods. We never found a way to match their intensity

2. You got to see a much heavier dose of their core players tonight. Did you think that may have caught you guys a little off guard? We knew they’d be featured more come playoff time. They’re experienced, talented, and they have great chemistry. Their pace caught us off guard, but no one should be surprised by their skill.

3. Cody got hurt in the 2nd game and couldn’t finish. How deflating was that considering you guys had started to gain momentum? . That was definitely a blow. We were battling to get back in the game, tied things up, and then watched as one of our key contributors was lost for the rest of the season. With everything that was already going wrong, it just felt like another bounce that didn’t go our way

4. Are there any goals you think you should’ve prevented ? I think I let in 14, so I’d say 14 of them. I couldn’t find a way to see around Joe all night. He messed with my vision throughout both games. Kudos to them for making me battle. I wish I could’ve been better for the team.

5. Do you consider the season a failure or can you look at it half full? There are certainly some failures to learn from this season. No one had beaten us twice until last night. I never felt like the Eagles got my best, which personally stings. They called me up and I didn’t deliver. At the same time, we had a good regular season and had some fun along the way. There’s no such thing as a bad night for hockey.

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