Before the face off both teams had an opportunity to change up their lines. Coach Brad Keenan did not like what he was seeing on the ice. His Cougars were getting badly outplayed by Norberry and his team were just running around the ice like a pack of terrified mice who had just seen the cat appear.
The Norberry Knights were applying massive offensive pressure and Maplewood didn’t appear to have any answer for it. Brad turned his head toward assistant coach Vince Perreti.
“I’m going to take the first line off and send out the grinders. Let’s see what the fourth line can do during the next few minutes.”
“It’s worth a try,” was the response from Vince. “Right now we can’t seem to get the puck out of our own end.”
The Knight’s coach, Jeff Hadley saw what Brad was doing and called out his third line. Hadley’s third line were similar to Brad Keenan’s fourth line in that they were all role players. These guys knew that their purpose was to lay on the body hard. If injuries, penalties and fights resulted from their style of play, so be it.
Coach Jeff Hadley passed on a quick, to the point, message to his third line as they were preparing to jump over the boards.
“Look guys. Maplewood’s coach is hoping that a change in strategy will wake his players up. The going may get a bit rough out there, but I know that you’ll all do your jobs out there.”
Brad Keenan’s fourth line rarely got much ice time during a game. He sent this line out for brief periods of time when the opposition were starting to intimidate his scoring lines. The coach might also send them out when his offensive lines were getting tired or the Cougars held such a big league that the outcome of the game had already been decided.
Coach Brad Keenan had recently signed a new power forward named, Chad Barlow. Chad did not have much experience playing hockey, but he was a star linebacker with Maplewood’s football team, the Panthers. Brad was aware that whatever skills Chad still needed to develop as a hockey player, was more than compensated for by his positive attitude, desire, strength and aggressiveness on the ice.
Maplewood’s coach had not forgotten head referee, Steve Kowalski’s stern message, delivered before the game officially started, about keeping the game clean and under control. At this point in the game, Brad did not care. He realized that if he was unable to radically change the momentum of the game in his team’s favor, the Cougars would most likely suffer defeat in this pivotal hockey game. The Maplewood Cougars needed to win this game to maintain their mathematical chance of making the play offs this season.
A few seconds before Chad Barlow got a chance to climb over the boards, Coach Keenan whispered these instructions in his tough, power forward’s ears. “Look. Norberry has just sent Glenn Davidson out on the ice. Forget about what the head referee said. I want you to give Davidson and the rest of his team a strong message.”
“I gotcha Coach,” Chad replied while moving his tongue in a lizard like manner. “I’ll take care of Davidson or anyone else on the Knights who needs an attitude adjustment.”
“I know That’s why I signed you,” Coach Keenan said with a smirk on his face.”