Renegades of Puck 2, Norse 1 (SO)

Renegades of Puck face a storming Norse squad and a barrage of shots to come out on top in a shootout


Aaron Froats

6/23/20234 min read

On Thursday, June 22, the Renegades of Puck entered the ice preparing to stand toe-to-toe with the league's inaugural champions -- the Norse. The Norse had only two losses in their franchise's history: A 5-3 loss to the 1st place Puck Buddies the week prior; and a 6-5 slugfest against the Classics in the league's debut season. The goalie in that Classics loss? Aaron Froats, who would fill-in at the goaltender position for the Renegades on the 22nd.

Despite rolling into the game in a tie with the Norse at 4-1 on the season, the Renegades appeared overmatched and dropped the game by a score of 4-1. Less than a week later, the team would look like a battered Rocky Balboa taking the ice for a rematch against the Norse.

Aaron Froats would be manning the pipes again for the Renegades, and captain Charlie Saunier made his return to the lineup after sitting out last week due to a deep foot contusion as a result of a blocked shot the game prior. In a rec league version of Kirk Gibson, Saunier led his team from the locker room to the ice. However, when it came to puck drop, the home team only dressed eight skaters.

Despite the bench size disadvantage, the Renegades stood taller this time around and committed to a strong defensive front. The lone flurry of shots by the home team during the opening frame put them on the board as Kyle Woodall deposited a weak side rebound past goalie Jessie Lapid, who was also subbing in with Norse's regular tendy, Brody Grief, out of the lineup. By the end of the first, the Renegades had grown to a full two lines and held a 1-0 lead, even though the shots heavily favored the champs, 10-3.

As the teams swapped ends, the ice started to tilt. Zone possession by the Norse was the dominating factor of the night, with well over half the period spent in the Renegades' end. Froats held fast displaying great vision of the puck, stoning 15 attempts in the period, including a point-blank glove save on Norse star forward Zack Dunne, and a pair of post-to-post saves with the champs attempting to work east-west to take advantage of the tiring Renegades. He was doing his best to keep the lead with the home squad only recording two additional shots, bringing their total to five.

What seemed like a Rocky-esque performance by the Renegades became a little more interesting when a roughing penalty put the team down a man a few minutes into the final frame. The Norse held the zone off the ensuing face-off for close to a minute before a shot from the point into a partial screen beat Froats on the ice glove-side. The 33rd shot tied the game and it looked like Rocky had hit the mat. The fiendish attack by the visiting team continued as you could see the Renegades begin to really labor for breath. The home team managed to put together two odd-man rushes in the last 90 seconds, one culminating in a lost puck to the corner, the other with a big save by Lapid. The game would head to hockey's version of the 12th round -- overtime -- with the shot totals 43-8 and the score tied at 1.

Three-on-three hockey seemed like it would be an inevitable end for the Renegades, given the lopsidedness the game showed to that point. More open ice meant more movement for the faster Norse squad. Surprisingly, the Renegades mustered a second wind and put a pair of shots on goal in the extra frame, including a breakaway late. By holding their opponent to only three shots in overtime, the game would head to a shootout.

What resembled Apollo and Rocky hugging on each other, exhaustingly flailing trying to land any head shot, each team huddled on their bench to put out three shooters. Renegades struck first on a deke which froze Lapid, but the Norse mirrored that approach against Froats. Second shooter saw the Renegades take control with an almost identical move, albeit a slower version. Opting for a faster version of their first attempt, this time Froats beat the Norse shooter to the post and kept the puck out of the net. A goal for the Renegades on the third shot would seal the victory. Unfortunately, the attempt stalled in front of the net with both the puck and player crashing into the goalie. The Norse had a reprieve. To no one's surprise, and a sportswriter's dream, Dunne took center ice. Dunne had been stymied by Froats all night, despite having huge success in his career against him. The goalie didn't even want to chance it. As Dunne moved from forehand to backhand a few feet in front of the crease, Froats knocked the puck away with his stick to seal the victory for the Renegades. A 47-save performance had Rocky wobbly standing in the center of the ring as the home team split the series with the Norse.

The Renegades will play the Bobcats next week and look to exact revenge after a dismal showing in a 3-2 loss on June 1 that was not as close on the ice as the scorecard showed. Froats will be called upon again as the team looks to find a permanent netminder going forward. Game is at 9:15pm on Thursday.