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TUCK GOALIE HERO IN WHALEN CUP CHAMPIONSHIP
A better scenario could not have been scripted. Who hangs up the pads the weekend before a league championship? Who decides that "I've had enough in net to last me a lifetime" on the verge of a championship match? Stu Logan does, that's frickin' who! In a risky move Tuck All-Star goaltender Stu Logan informed the league that he would not be in goal for his team for the Whalen Cup after having so much fun playing out this past weekend. "I have resisted strapping on the pads since I got here last year and after a fun wknd of playing D up at Western Ontario, I decided I'm done with it." So, apparently that was that. In goal for Tuck on Championship night was Tuck women's goalie Meg Becker, who earlier in the season was the first woman to win a UVHL game in net when Logan could not play. Logan took his place among the Tuck forwards for the game. Was it perhaps a little disrespectful to his opponent the Bruins? Perhaps. Was this an opportunity for the Bruins to "trade down" in goal against the mighty Green Machine of Tuck increasing their chances of winning? Perhaps. Bruins captain (and goaltender) Greg Hadley was perplexed by Logan's decision, but agreed to it nonetheless as the Comissioners deferrred to captain Hadley to decide. Hadley agreed, and thus, the game began. The two best teams in the UVHL were set to face-off for the second Whalen Cup. One versus two. Could the Bruins complete their Cinderella season rising from worst to first from last year? Would Tuck continue their UVHL dominance and win a championship against the tough Bruins without their All-Star goaltender in net? Each team tested the other to get a feel of the contest, and the majority of the first period remained scoreless. Both goalies were tested, but there was alot of tough play in the corners, along the boards, and turnovers in the neutral zone from strong backchecking until each team felt comfortable almost waiting to see what the other was going to do. The Bruins Don Powers was the first to get on the scoresheet beating Becker with only 1:35 left in the first period off a rebound by a Matt Marrazzo shot and drive to the net. So far, so good for the Bruins. A 1-0 lead, no early Tuck goal, or two, and Tuck did not score until 7:59 of the second when defenseman Jeff Russel found a small hole in Hadley's armor on a slapper assisted by co-captain John Tatum. Physical play picked up, and the refs kept the penalty box light calling only 4 minor infractions the entire game. Earlier in the second Bruins defenseman Andy Holland and Tuck forward Jeremy Styles got into it in the corner and each received offsetting roughing minors at 11:51. The refs let them play tonight, and there were several bodychecks, hooks, slashes, trips and the like that were let go, but it never got dirty. One that couldn't be ignored was an Andy Holland cross check at 4:34 of the second, but the Bruins denied all of Tuck's chances and Hadley inspired his team to keep working hard. Both teams played hard and with heart. Tuck got a break late in the second scoring a potential back breaking goal with only 47 seconds left when Jeremy Styles found the back of the net from John Tatum, his second assist. Tuck went into the third with a 2-1 lead, and we all know how dangerous Tuck is protecting, and often building on, the lead. Tuck had an opportunity on the power play at 12:49 of the third with Bruin Scott Fraser in the box for tripping, but the Bruins rejected all chances again with inspired play. Five minutes of third period heart pounding play went by, both goalies turning away chances, until Bruin playoff hero Matt Marrazzo caught a break on a neutral zone bounce off the left wing boards and got in behind the Tuck defense. Marrazzo streaked down the left side and absolutely wired a shot inside the far post from the top of the circle beating Becker's glove and tieing the game at 2-2 at 9:58 of the second. A tie game in the third. What more could a hockey fan ask for? Both teams continued to play hard, but it was Tuck who struck next off a defensive zone turnover allowing Tim Weld to score an unassisted goal at 7:07 to take the lead 3-2. It was do or die for the Bruins, down one goal with just over 7 minutes to play. Tuck kept pressing, but Hadley got stronger and stronger as the game went on. The Bruins were turned away by Meg Becker a few times on tying goal chances. At 2:57 it was non other than Mr. Clutch Rob Pelletier who pouncd on a rebound off a Dave DeSchamps shot and with his magic hands and a Tuck defender all over him somehow found the time to lift the puck over a sprawling Becker. Well, I guess a hockey fan could ask for a tie game with less than 3 minutes to play...Nail biting action end-to-end ensued, and both goalies made saves to keep their team's chances alive. It was looking like a 5-minute sudden death OT was on the horizon, and the fans were looking forward to it. On the last play of the game the Bruins almost got the puck out of their end when Don Powers sent the puck up the boards to bank it out. Tuck defenseman Jeff Russel either grabbed the puck out of the air or it bounced off his arm or chest, which ever it was there was only 3-4 seconds left on the clock. Powers wisely charged directly at Russel and slid to block the ensuing slap shot Russel was lining up for. Russel's shot banked off Powers' shin pad high into the air, but towards the Bruins net. It landed in front, possibly even a rebound off Hadley's pad (it happened so fast), and onto none other than an open Stu Logan's stick who put it into the net for the game winning goal with only 0.3 seconds left. Yes, Tuck scored with less than a second left in regulation to win the Whalen Cup Championship on a goal from their All-Star goalie. Who would have thought? Tuck went nuts when the goal made its way into the net. There were extra hugs and high-fives considering who it was that scored their first UVHL league championship goal. The Bruins were devastated, and could not believe it happened like that. The fans were in shock. With knees to the ice and heads in hands the Bruins gradually got up and tipped their hat to the winner showing class losing such a great game on a tough play. Tuck skated their victory laps with the Cup, and many beers were drunk out of its silver walls on Championship night. What more could a hockey fan ask for, eh?