After concluding their regular season with a frustrating 5-4 loss, CIRIUS held the number one seed heading into the playoffs on Wednesday night. With a puck-drop scheduled for 9:30 PM, the team focused their attention on the Shaughnessy Shooters. The Shooters knocked CIRIUS out of the playoffs, one round before the Championship series, in their inaugural season this past winter. Call it revenge, call it redemption, call it what you will...CIRIUS had their eyes on the prize on Wednesday.
With a full roster to support him, Jay Moye started his eleventh straight game for CIRIUS Fitness. The usual suspects (Will Hanley, Eric Fischer, Rob Susca, and Ryan Nolan) were set to protect the defensive zone. The offense had eight skaters upfront consisting of their team captain Brendan Keelen, his father Dave, Mike Nill, Mike Pavlou, Joe Cirincione, Keith Meyers, Ryan Susca, and Chris Johnson. The team was ready to go the moment the puck hit the ice for the first time.
CIRIUS struck early on during the first period. Brendan Keelen's shot landed in the back of the net giving the team a crucial 1-0 lead and an enormous first goal. An opponent's defenseman was overheard telling his goaltender "that kid owns you...". Not necessarily the support that would be needed but on the other hand, it was surely additional fuel to feed Keelen's offensive fire.
Later in the first period, Will Hanley was heading low into the offensive zone after pinching in from the point. He made a pass over to Chris Johnson who stood in front of the opponent's net minder. After his attempted shot was blocked, he was taken out by the defenseman on a questionable play. As the commotion distracted some, it gave Joe Cirincione the chance to bat in the loose puck to add to CIRIUS' lead. Johnson's gritty play in front set up this opportunity and his teammates did the rest.
A very questionable slashing call sent Cirincione to the penalty box as he dove to break up a potential breakaway. On the assuming penalty kill, Brendan Keelen proved once again that he is capable of his own highlight reel. While cruising down the left wing side and staving off a chasing defender, he dragged the puck from his forehand to his backhand to escape another approaching opponent. Once the goaltender bit on the move, Keelen ripped a classic backhand shot up and over his shoulder for the third goal (his second) of the game.
The first period ended with the score 3-1. During the break, CIRIUS discussed keeping up their game plan of firing shots and crashing the net. Two more goals were scored as a result of their efforts. On a 2-0, Joe Cirincione came down and took a shot which the opposing goalie kicked out. Chris Johnson was in perfect position to smash in the rebound for his second goal of the game. Brendan Keelen came breaking down the side of the defensive zone once again. A forehand shot wouldn't go, so Keelen collected his own rebound and sniped another backhand goal. This completed his hat trick and gave his team a strong four goal lead.
The exclamation point on the CIRIUS Fitness win came in the third period. Ryan Susca crushed a shot from the right wing side which rang off the far-side post and into the back of the net. Susca's shot came from above the face-off circle and basically took any remaining wind out of the opponent's sails. The game ended with a final score of 6-1.
The victory sends CIRIUS Fitness Ice Hockey to their first Championship series in the team's history. After being eliminated in the semifinals last season, the boys of the summer squad dug deep and captured the #1 seed after going 7-3 in the regular season. The convincing playoff win gives CIRIUS a lot of momentum heading into the best-of-3 series Championship series.
Game 1 will be played Monday night at 8:45 PM. Let's wish the team the best of luck as their quest for their first Championship trophy begins!
2015 PLAYER STATS
2 – Chris Johnson
4 - George Fischer
5 – Joe Cirincione “A”
13 – Rob Susca "A"
19 – Brendan Keelen “C”
20 – Keith Meyers
21 – Dave Keelen
27 – Mike Pavlou
31 – Jay Moye - G
35 - Andrew Rammairone - G
42 – Eric Fischer
50 – Will Hanley “A”
52 – Scott Dinella
82 – Ryan Nolan
88 - Mike Nill
98 – George Noble