Semi-Finals (Week 1) hosted two exciting games – Lake Raiders (14-6-0) vs. Bulldogs (9-9-2); and Kings (9-8-3) vs. Mustangs (9-9-2).
Game 1 (Kings vs. Mustangs) The second seed Kings were up against their Regular Season nemesis the third seed Mustangs. Having lost all four Regular Season games to the Mustangs the Kings had something to prove and the Mustangs wanted to make the most of their winning momentum. Period One started quickly with both sides exchanging some quality chances it didn’t take long for someone to take the advantage. At 2:49 the Kings Isaac Vescio picked up a loose ball deep in the Mustangs zone and popped one past Keeper Brad Gordon putting the Kings up 1-0. The Mustangs weren’t willing to give up just yet and when “Rookie” Muntha Ahmed picked up a Roberto Monteiro pass just inside the hash marks, gave a sweet little head fake to beat Kings Keeper Leo Xu (4:05) and the Ponies had evened things up at 1-1. At this point, the Kings started to run into some penalty problems. A string of three consecutive penalties (Bryan Rakowski “In the Crease” at 4:17; Marcel Adarkawa “In the Crease” at 5:21 and then Mike Iacovone “Dangerous Driving at 9:01) would eventually prove costly to the Keepers of the Crown. On their third Power Play attempt the Mustangs made no mistakes and a cross-crease pass from Roberto Monteiro found a wide open Nicole Neeson leaving Kings Keeper Leo Xu without a chance and the Mustangs took the lead 2-1. With the Mustangs now holding all the momentum, the Kings couldn’t muster any response to even up the score. At 13:05 of the opening frame the Mustangs Roberto Monteiro, on a solo effort, found the back of the Kings net giving the Ponies a 3-1 lead, his third point of the game and all they needed to win the first game of the series. Periods Two and Three remained scoreless with the Kings unable to mount any offensive response to the Mustangs lead. Even a Third Period two-minute man advantage with Mustangs Sergio Correia (Charging at 7:42) in the box couldn’t get them back in the game. Final 3-1 Mustangs over Kings. Mustangs lead series 1-0.
Game 2 (Lake Raiders vs. Bulldogs) We knew this was going to be a great Playoff matchup and it didn’t disappoint. This was a tight checking, rough and tumble affair from the very first whistle, with both sides fighting for every inch of ground and every touch of the ball.
Periods One and Two saw no scoring but a total of ten minutes of Penalty time was doled out for the raucous play. Period One had the Bulldogs Franco Paonessa taking a two-minute tour of the Sin Bin at 7:26 for “Checking from Behind” but the Lake Raiders could not take advantage of the extra man. Period Two saw the Bulldogs short-handed three more times. Franco Paonessa took a “Charging” call at 3:01 and then Jerry Mariano took an “In the Crease” call at 4:46 but again the Lake Raiders could not capitalize on the brief two-man advantage or benefit from the extra man for the remainder of the two minutes. Franco Paonessa then took a “Delay of Game” call at 11:30 but a matching “Charging” call to Lake Raiders Sean Celsie negated the man advantage and we had four on four play for two minutes. The second frame closed out with nothing to show on the scoreboard but both sides were left licking their wounds. Period Three began as the first two frames closed with lots of crashing and banging. Just shy of the one-minute mark (00:59) the Lake Raiders Jeremy Schofield took a “Charging” call and it proved costly to the Boat People. With just a few seconds left in the penalty (2:25) the Bulldogs Franco Paonessa took a Jerry Mariano feed and beat Lake Raiders Keeper Aziza Abdullah putting the Dogs up 1-0. The battle continued on until the 9:15 mark when a solo effort by Lake Raiders Jeremy Schofield beat Bulldogs Mohit Sharma and both sides were even again at 1-1. Lake Raiders Schofield took a “Dangerous Driving” call at 5:34 but the Raiders veteran “D” core defended for the full two minutes. Then at 7:17 the Bulldogs Mariano took an “In the Crease” call and it was the Dogs turn to stand tall and defend for the full two. With momentum seemingly swinging from side to side, it seemed like both sides were holding their breath for a break to happen. At 10:55 an errant pass from Bulldogs Jerry Mariano, in the Lake Raiders zone, deflected off a defenders wheel and rolled past Raiders Keeper Aziza Abdullah and the Bulldogs had the lead 2-1. But the excitement wasn’t over, with just shy of two minutes left in the period (13:07) the Bulldogs Mariano took an “Interference” call and the Raiders were again on the Power Play. As the seconds ticked away the Lake Raiders were thwarted again and again by the Bulldogs defensive efforts and the extra man again proved to be no advantage to them. Final 2-1 Bulldogs over Lake Raiders Bulldogs lead series 1-0.
On April 16th 2016, the Playoffs continue with Semi-Finals Week 2 as the 1st place Lake Raiders take on the 4th place Bulldogs the 2nd place Kings take on the 3rd place Mustangs at Sunnyview Public School. Come watch the TPWHL next Saturday from 12:30 to 3:30 PM