Renegades of Puck 2, Tenacious D 1

Epic goaltending matchup capped by a last-minute powerplay goal giving Renegades the edge over Tenacious D


Aaron Froats

8/24/20234 min read

If you are a fan of stalwart goaltending, then the season opener for the Fall 2023 D League of NAIHL was the perfect matchup for you. With a combined 50 shots on goal, the red lamp only sounded three times as both netminders put on a clinic in valiant effort of leading their respective teams to victory. It would be necessary as Tenacious D was fielding a team without arguably their best skater in Curtis Word, and the Renegades were in triage mode with four starters out, including their team leader in scoring in the Summer season, Zack McCann.

The first period was fairly uneventful from a scoresheet perspective: No goals and no penalties. However, there was more to it than that if you were in attendance. About five minutes into the game, Jon Bellucci, who had a hat trick against the same Tenacious D squad only three weeks ago, found himself with nothing between him and goaltender Joel McGlothen except the blue line. Bellucci was flying in and made a slick move at the last moment, but a sprawling McGlothen, in almost a pad-stack fashion, was able to shut the door. The rush wasn't over though as the rebound was sitting right out front where it was jammed towards the net a few seconds later. Fortunately for the away squad, the attempt caromed again off the pads where a backchecking Tenacious D defender was finally able to clear the puck.

A few minutes later, the action was at the other end. Tenacious D defenseman Chris Saponari received a point pass at the top of the Renegades of Puck zone and began to walk the line to his right. Leaving the puck for fellow blue-liner, Jeff Dahl, Dahl made a nifty move to create space heading towards the top of the faceoff circle. A quick snap of the puck far side was snared by new Renegades mainstay, goalie Aaron Froats. The stop was a clear indication that the skaters for each team where going to have their goals in this contest.

Second period the scoresheet remained blank. This time it was a display of big leg pad saves from the pair of crease protectors. McGlothen faced a screened attempt by forward Bryce Levet about halfway through the frame, where he was able to shoot his right pad out to deflect the shot to the corner at the last moment. Not to be outdone, a snapshot from point moments later by Tenacious D saw Froats stretching to his right to also keep the scoreboard at zeroes. In an inadvertent game of one-upmanship, it was Levet again putting pressure on the Tenacious netminder. A semi-breakaway moving across the slot sent McGlothen racing to his left post in the butterfly to shut down the would-be first goal of the 2023 Fall Season. Capping the goalie highlights for the period was an impromptu one-timer on a bouncing puck at point blank range from Tenacious. Froats snapped out his left pad this time with a loud pad save to close out the stanza.

What looked like may end up being a scoreless game to head to OT and a possible shootout finally saw an entry on the scoresheet in the third. A turnover at the Renegades blue line resulted in an open sheet of ice for TJ Nielson. The play slowly developed into a 2-on-1 as the Renegades entered the zone, but Nielson kept the puck to the left and outside, eventually cutting back towards the crease. It appeared Nielson was going to run out of real estate, but he fired the puck five-hole at the last moment to put the home team in the lead with around seven and a half to play. Approximately two minutes later, it was Tenacious D knocking at the door. A botched clearing attempt by the home team was recovered by Dahl at the near-side point. Skating backwards slightly to his left, he opened up for one of his well-known heavy slappers. It looked like Froats was set up for a routine glove stop, but the puck changed directions on the way to the net glancing off defenseman Chris Brady's glove and found daylight under the left arm of Froats to tie the tilt.

Once again, the contest looked destined for overtime, but untimely mental errors would change its course. A turnover by Tenacious D in their own zone led to the puck squirting out to the low slot directly onto the stick of a waiting Bellucci. A bullet wrister from 20 feet caught the right shoulder of McGlothen keeping the score knotted with four to go in the third. Later, while battling for a puck in the offensive zone, forward Ronan Morrison tangled with Renegades utility man Al Zarembski. In an act of frustration, Morrison cross-checked Zarembski high on the back towards his head sending the defenseman to the ice directly in front of the referee, leading to the lone special teams opportunity of the night. The ensuing faceoff took place roughly 150 feet away at the other end to start the powerplay. However, the Renegades struggled to keep the puck in the zone and found themselves backpedaling for the bulk of the man advantage. With time dwindling down on both the powerplay and regulation, Bellucci picked up the puck leaving the defensive zone on the near side boards and emptied the rest of the tank speeding towards the other end of the ice. Cutting to his right on his backhand, protecting the puck as he entered the zone, Bellucci turned the proverbial corner shifting the puck to his forehand and beating the race with McGlothen to the back post with only 37 seconds remaining on the clock. The Renegades would shut things down on the resulting faceoff, not allowing the Tenacious netminder to exit the ice for the extra attacker. The away team would make one last push, but a pass from the glove-side corner to the high slot just missed the stick of forward Ryan Macy, ending the game 2-1.

Froats has now allowed only three goals in his last three appearances, with a .955 save percentage along the way. He and his teammates will welcome his previous team, the Classics, in a matchup next Thursday at 8:15, the only NAIHL team he has yet to face. Tenacious D will look to continue their stifling play and hope to be on the winning end next week as they visit the Woollies in Week 2. They will open the week for the league on Wednesday at 10:45.