When both teams finished their line changes, head referee, Steve Kowalsi, took a quick look at both sides and didn’t like what he was seeing. Kowalski cast a menacing look towards the coaches on both benches. Both coaches quickly moved their heads towards their assistant coaches as a way of avoiding the referee’s icy glare.
As Steve Kowalski was getting ready to drop the puck for the face off, he focused his attention on both team’s centers. “Don’t forget what I told you guys before the game even started. If there is any nonsense on this shift, I won’t hesitate to kick players right out of the game.” Both centers acknowledged the head referee by nodding their heads in agreement. The right wingers on both teams, Glenn Davidson for the Knights and Chad Barlow for the Cougars both tried some intimidation by staring each other down.
The grinder lines on both teams seemed to communicate to each other that it was time for some rough body to body contact, but they would wait until later in the game before some really nasty stuff started.
The Maplewood Cougars won the draw on the first face off. Cougar defenseman Keith Whittier gathered up the puck and made a perfect tape to tape pass to Cougars power forward, Chad Bowers. Out of the corner of his eye, Chad could see Glenn Davidson from the Knights charging directly for him. Without a second to spare, Bowers passed the puck to center, Garry Means. Garry wound up for his first one-timer of the season and connected perfectly with the puck.
Norberry’s goalie, Kevin Sands, shot out his trapper glove, attempting to stop the shot that was headed for the top right corner of the net. The puck glanced off the mesh part of Sand’s glove and dropped in the right hand corner of the net. The linesman raised his hand and blew the whistle to signal a goal. No one looked more surprised than center Garry Means as his teammates rushed towards him to congratulate him. The fourth line had scored their first goal of the season. The scoreboard now read Norberry Knights 2, Maplewood Cougars 1.
Coach Brian Keenan elected to keep his fourth line on the ice for one more shift. On the next face-off Maplewood center Garry Means once again won the draw and quickly passed the puck to right winger Chad Barrows. This time Chad had room to let a blistering slapshot go that hit Norberry’s goalie, Kevin Sands, dead center on his plastic mask. Sand’s dropped to his knees like a soldier that had been pole axed. Norberry’s trainer quickly ran onto the ice. When he got to Kevin Sands, he discovered that his goalie had been knocked out cold by the powerful slap shot.
When Norberry’s trainer ascertained that their goalie had indeed been knocked unconscious, he signalled for a Norberry player to rush to the bench and tell coach Jeff Hadley to dial 911.
While this was happening a hush engulfed the whole arena. At this point no one knew the severity of the injury to Kevin Sands. Kevin’s plastic mask had prevented a deep cut, but could not protect the goalie for the heavy impact of the shot.
Within seven minutes an ambulance arrived and Norberry’s goalie was placed on a stretcher. After the paramedics made a preliminary assessment, Kevin Sands was taken to St. Boniface Hospital. The fans on both sides of the arena gave Kevin a standing round ovation. Although the spectators for both teams were very loyal to their own teams, they didn’t hesitate to show respect for a fallen athlete.
Norberry coach Jeff Hadley asked the head referee Steve Kowalski, for a ten minute break, so that he could get an alternate goalie ready to finish the game. Hadley then signalled for his assistant coach and his backup goalie Barry Reimer to huddle up with him. Barry had been watching the game from the stands. He had a bad case of the flu and had made several trips to the men’s room already. Coach Hadley spoke privately with Barry and his assistant coach Bill White. Barry had not played in a regular-season game all year. He had, however, proved himself to be a competent goalie during Norberry’s practices and exhibition games.
“How are you feeling Barry?” Coach Hadley asked.
“Not good. I’ve had bouts of diarrhea and vomiting all evening. I don’t think I can play,” Gary answered.
“This is terrible. Have you got any ideas Bill?” Hadley asked turning to his assistant coach.
“This may sound crazy, but I do. In the old days of hockey, the home team used to pay a backup goalie to sit in the stands that could be used by either the home or visiting team in an emergency, ”Bill answered.
“I think my dad once told me about that,” Jeff said. “How does that apply to our situation?”
“I don’t know if this will fly,” Bill said. “Why don’t we ask Brad Keenan if we can borrow Miles Myers for the rest of the game?”
“How could we get Keenan to agree to that?” Coach Hadley asked, looking confused but still desperate for a solution to the problem. He was now obviously giving the suggestion some serious consideration.
“We offer Brad Keenan home team advantage if we meet in the playoffs,” Bill said.
The four coaches all met in the corridor next to the visitor’s dressing room. Although shocked me by Bill White’s idea, coach Keenan wasn’t opposed to it.
“I have no objection to this deal,” Brad said but we will need to clear it with the league’s convenor. “Hadley and Coach Keenan were able to use the administration’s office to make a phone call to the convenor. After talking to both coaches and being assured that they were both in agreement, he asked them both to agree to sign a letter of agreement to this arrangement. The convenor said that he could leave his home right now and type up the letter of agreement at the St. Vital Arena. In the meantime, he asked that both coaches to shake hands and carry on with the game. An agreement had been reached and was just waiting to be formalized. The Norberry Knights were given permission to use Miles Myers as their goalie for the rest of the game. The convenor suggested that a brief intermission should be taken and that both coaches should meet with their players in their respective dressing rooms to explain this highly irregular plan to finish tonight’s game. The convenor was a very smart man. He knew how controversial the last meeting of these two teams had been. The last thing he wanted to do was to be forced to cancel tonight’s game as well