The battle for first place in the Norman Midget AA Hockey league turned nasty this past weekend, when the Thompson King Miners butted heads with the Cross Lake Islanders at the C.A. Nesbitt Arena.
Even though the King Miners walked away from this home series with a pair of victories, their heated rivalry with the Islanders resulted in over 200 combined penalty minutes and plenty of poor sportsmanship.
Things started out ordinarily enough on Friday, with Thompson’s offence scoring a pair of goals in the second period to give the team a solid 2–0 lead.
King Miners goalie Skylar Szocs also showed a lot of heart during this stretch by stopping a slapshot with his bare hand after losing his glove in a scuffle. Despite the pain, Szocs continued to play in the rest of the game.
Unfortunately, the second period also marked a considerable change in attitude for both teams, since things got heated and penalties mounted up on both sides.
Even though the Islanders finally put away a goal at the beginning of the third, their roster gradually got thinned out as players were either kicked out of the game, stuck in the penalty box, or voluntarily abandoned their post. Some players made their frustrations know by throwing their sticks onto the ice as they retreated back into the locker room.
The King Miners were able to take advantage of their rivals’ dwindling numbers and scored two other goals in the third to make the final 4–1 in their favour.
By the end of this contest, the Islanders’ bench was empty except for a single member of the coaching staff, who convinced the timekeepers to run the clock for the last minute of play.
Saturday’s match-up started under similarly bizarre circumstances since much of the Islanders roster showed up late, which forced them to play the first minute of the game without a goalie in net.
However, once the rest of the team gradually trickled into the arena, the game turned into a competitive shooting gallery. Even though the hostility and cheap shots from the previous night remained, both teams put a big emphasis on flexing their offensive muscle as well.
By the end of the third period the game was tied at 8–8, with league leading scorers Kadin Ross of the Islanders and Chase Gurniak of the King Miners each making their presence known.
Not only did Gurniak’s final goal of the afternoon secure him a hat trick, but it also turned out to be the game winner, since he scored with 19 seconds left in overtime to give his team a 9–8 victory.
With this latest pair of wins in the bag, the King Miners are now tied for second place in the Norman Midget AA Hockey league, with 18 points and a 9–4 win-loss record.
The King Miners’ final home series of the season will take place Jan 19–20 at the Thompson Regional Community Centre, where they will be facing off against the Norway House North Stars.