Renegades of Puck 5, Woollies 2

Renegades continue their dominance over the Woollies as they bounce back from a Week 2 loss to take the game in forceful fashion

FALL 2023 - WEEK 3RENEGADES OF PUCKWOOLLIES

Aaron Froats

9/8/20234 min read

To say that the Renegades of Puck have had the Woollies’ number since they both entered the league last season would have been an understatement. The Renegades had outscored the Woollies by a 17-2 margin in the two contests last season. While the expectation was that game would be closer this time, especially after the Woollies gaining momentum with their win over Tenacious D in Week 2, it may not have mattered who was suiting up against the Renegades last night: They were clicking that well.

The proverbial betting line would have moved in whiplash fashion between last week and this week. With the aforementioned domination by the Renegades, it was clear they would have been a huge favorite heading into the Week 3 matchup. Then, with the Woollies win and the Classics easily handling the Renegades last week, you could say the away team was still favored, but maybe not as large of a number on the spread. Then, as the game approached yesterday, with significant scratches for the Woollies, including captain Jody Packer, the Woollies took advantage of the sub list lock not being in effect just yet.

While the rule of thumb – well, it is an actual rule implemented this season – is that any sub should be replacing a like-skilled player, eyebrows were definitely raised as the Woollies took the ice. Dressing for the home team were speedy and talented skaters in the form of Kyle Helander, Rob Kotulak, and Joel Patnode, the last two having just peppered goaltender Aaron Froats the week before as members of their own team, the Classics. Added to these three was stalwart and high hockey IQ defenseman JJ Shire. So, in theory, if there was a line on this game, it would have likely been a pick ‘em game, or even shifted to the Woollies favor.

With all of this movement in the projected outcome, and still smarting from their subpar performance in Week 2, the Renegades came out with a vengeance in the first. Not even 90 seconds into the game, defenseman Brandon Adams wristed a shot from the left point through traffic that found its way to the back of the net giving them the early advantage. Next shift saw the reconstruction of the ATB line of Al Zarembski, TJ Nielson, and Bryce Levet, and they lived up to the “all the best” name. All but the first few seconds of a close to two-minute shift was spent in the Woollies zone. While it didn’t amount to a goal on the board, the tone was definitely set for the Renegades and that line looks to be a force anytime they are on the ice together. The domination would carry late into the frame when yet another mental lapse by Froats put the Woollies on the board. Similar to the goal by Josh Brainard from the goal line last week, Froats misplayed the transition to his near side post and got beat in almost an identical manner, being caught out of position and not in the butterfly for the save. A minute later, however, Dustin Poole celebrated his birthday with his first goal of the season, giving the Renegades a 2-1 lead heading into the intermission.

The aggression by the squad in white slowed down very little in the second period. Despite this, an overzealous defensive play in the neutral zone lead to a breakaway by Christian Mansfield that uncharacteristically beat Froats to his glove side tying up the game. This appeared to strike a chord with the Renegades as the ice tilted once again in their favor. This couldn’t have been more apparent as the clock ticked below four minutes. A streaking Jon Bellucci was funneling into the corner to head behind the net on netminder Omar Soliman’s glove side, but opted to send the puck out front where a waiting Skip McFarland was in perfect position with his stick on the ice. The resulting tip beat Soliman netting McFarland his first goal of his career to put his team back in the lead. The ensuing faceoff was a tick-tack play off the draw, with Adam Glasgow winning it to Kris Martel, who returned it to Glasgow entering the zone. Glasgow beat Soliman just eight seconds after McFarland extending the lead to two.

Entering the third, the Woollies would not go down without a fight. Speedster Rob Kotulak found himself on a breakaway nearly four minutes into the last stanza, but Froats beat him to the near side post to make a big butterfly stop. Off the resulting faceoff, Patnode ripped a slapper from the right point but Froats was able to close the five-hole keep the lead at two. As the minutes waned, one last effort by the Woollies saw a broken-down Renegades breakout through the neutral zone end up as a 2-on-1 with Kotaluk racing to beat Adams down the far side. Kotaluk was able to get the pass across to his teammate cutting to the back post, but Froats made a quick lateral move and got the paddle down for the save. To tie a nice bow on the stellar Renegades performance, Bryce Levet scored his first of the new campaign with less than a minute to play, sealing the 5-2 victory. The away squad nearly tripled their shot total from the previous week in their effort, sending 36 shots to the net, where the couple flurries by the Woollies eventually had Froats stopping 23 of their 25 shots.

The victory moves the Renegades to 2-1 as they open Week 4 on Wednesday night against the Bobcats, who they played to a pair of 3-2 games last season, each taking a game. The Woollies fall to 1-2, where they will faceoff against the 2-1 Puck Buddies. The Woollies took their only win of the season off the Puck Buddies in the summer campaign, so it will likely be a tough challenge as the Buddies likely remember that shutout all too well.

NOTES: Defenseman Brandon Adams will miss at least the next two games as he recovers from an injury. The team is expected to bring Ben Brinton in to fill his spot, who was a regular blue-liner for the Renegades last season. Dustin Poole is expected to be out next week as a healthy scratch. The team expects to see Chris Brady and Kyle Woodall back in the lineup after they were scratches in Week 3.