Puck Buddies 7, Renegades of Puck 4

Lightning fast start to the game, but Puck Buddies pull away in the 2nd

SUMMER 2023 - WEEK 9PUCK BUDDIESRENEGADES OF PUCK

Aaron Froats

7/21/20234 min read

If you are one of those spectators that show up early to get your food and drink, get to your seat, get settled -- all to make sure you are there for maybe the last bit of warmups, but definitely before puck drop, then you were in luck last night. If you are one of those who get there when you get there and you may miss the first few minutes, well, you likely missed over half of the game's scoring.

Within the first seven minutes of the game, there were a total of seven goals deposited to the back of the net. The Renegades of Puck stormed out of the gate when Chris Brady slid a shot from below the hashmarks between the legs of the Puck Buddies goaltender striking first. On the ensuing faceoff, the captain of the Puck Buddies, Josh Kerr, showed off some fancy handling across the blue line, splitting the defense and exploiting the five-hole on the other side of the ice. Aaron Froats was making his fifth straight start for the Renegades, having just held the Puck Buddies to just 2 goals on 33 shots in a 2-1 loss for the Classics last Friday. Last night would be a different story for the league-leading netminder.

After the tying goal, the Renegades lit the lamp twice in about a minute with another five-hole marker, this time by Mike Mielnik for his first of the season, and a rebound cleanup by Brandon Adams. It could be heard on the ice before the next faceoff that one of the Buddies acknowledged the fact that the Renegades were bringing it to the number one team and they needed to step it up. Step it up they did. Within the next 90 seconds, the Puck Buddies score on 3 of 4 shots to pull ahead 4-3 at the 7-minute mark of the first period. Froats recognized that the Puck Buddies train was rolling full steam down the track and asked captain Charlie Saunier for a time out. It appeared to be just what the Renegades needed: To catch their breath and kill the momentum of their opponent. While the pace slowed every so slightly, the scorekeeper's hand got some relief as the period ended without another tally.

Beginning in the second period, however, it would be the Von Heyking show. After scoring the third goal of the game for the Puck Buddies in the first with a filthy backhand bar-down goal, capping a demonstration of skating skill around three Renegades, as well as the fourth goal, Von Heyking scored his hat trick marker on one of his three breakaways in the period. One of those breakaways occurred in the waning seconds of the period, but Froats was able to make a left pad save at the buzzer. With another goal by the away team pocketed earlier in the second, the lead was 6-3 heading into the final frame. The breathing was starting to labor for the Renegades, but they would make certain they gave themselves a chance in the third.

Froats, who has led the league in GAA for the majority of the season, as well as highlight reel saves, added to his portfolio in the last period. In a span of roughly 45 seconds, Froats put on a montage of denials out of pure desperation to keep his team in the game. The intro clip for the reel would be a windmill glove save on a shot from the high slot through three bodies that, while he was unable to cleanly catch the puck, he was able to sail to the blocker-side corner. Next barrage would be a slew of saves where Froats lost his stick after a Puck Buddies player inadvertently fell into him. He was able to recover his stick when the puck was cleared moments later, but the assault was not done. Making a short-side save to his right, the Puck Buddies forward wheeled around the back of the net and passed it to the two players waiting on the backside doorstep. Froats lost his stick once again as he dove to the other post stopping the shot along the ice with his glove. Two more shots were made point-blank on rebounds before he was able to cover and get a whistle and a breather.

The swing in momentum and encouragement gave new life to the Renegades. Awarded their second powerplay of the period with only two and a half minutes left to play, Ben Brinton sniped a shot far-side over the netminder's left shoulder to pull his team within two with just over two minutes left on the clock. At this point, the crowd began to keep their eye on Froats to see when he would dash to the bench for the extra attacker. Unfortunately, he would not have that opportunity. Von Heyking was at it again, tallying his fourth of the game when he shifted into fifth gear around the Renegades defense at the blue line after a turnover, leading to yet another breakaway -- this one beating Froats over his left shoulder with a short-side wrister. Adding two more shots before the horn, the Puck Buddies net seven goals on 39 shots in the game en route to a 7-4 finish in a much needed win to fend off the hot Renegades of Puck squad.

News broke this week that Froats has committed to the Renegades of Puck full time for next season. Despite the stat line last night, Froats has a 2.64 GAA and a .901 save percentages through 16 games this season with a 7-6-3 record. He will finish this season with the Classics, while the Classics have received commitment from Omar Soliman to take over the net in the fall after manning the pipes in the Woollies' inaugural season. Captain Charlie Saunier has named Froats the assistant captain for the upcoming season after he vacates the captaincy on the Classics. The Classics have not yet named a new captain with Josh Brainard and Brent Morris continuing in the assistant captain roles.

The Renegades of Puck will close out the regular season at home versus Tenacious D in their first meeting this season. Froats has faced them three times as a member of the Classics and subbing for the Norse, going 2-1 with a 2.00 GAA and a .909 save percentage. With a win against the Woollies last night, Tenacious D has now secured a spot for the playoffs, while the Renegades are now locked in the 3-seed after the loss by Your Mother in Law to the Norse. The final regular season game will be a late start with a 10:30 puck drop on Thursday.

EDIT: The third goal scored by the Renegades of Puck was scored by Dustin Poole, previously credited to Mike Mielnik.