Thursday, 20 January 2011

Maybe The Fans Can Try?

I had visions of writing an article today on the shootout, and how this added bonus at the end of tied games send the fans home with a feeling of satisfaction or defeat. After all, hockey is a sport that prides itself on entertainment value, and no one really likes to go home unfulfilled after spending $500 on tickets, food, and souvenirs. Instead, I changed my focus once I came across an article that spoke of the longest shootout in hockey history, and one that network executive in North America would probably grumble about if it happened here.

We go back a few weeks to the Deutsche EisHockey Liga where the visiting Straubing Tigers played EHC München on December 22, 2010. Not much was out of the ordinary as the teams closed out the regulation sixty minutes tied 4-4. 4999 fans awaited the standard overtime period, and saw the two teams remain tied after the extra frame. So, as we see in most games today, a shootout was on-deck in this game.

The two goaltenders, Sebastien Elwing for München and Dimitri Pätzold for Straubing, have probably faced a number of penalty shots in practice, and I know some teams enjoy having a shootout competition at the end of practices as a little fun. I'm guessing both goaltenders have seen their fair share of penalty shots and shootout moves in their careers.

That being said, the game on December 22 may have doubled the amount of shootout attempts they have faced in their careers in one game. The shootout between Straubing and München went an incredible 21 rounds! The hockey game, including the shootout, lasted nearly three hours for the fans, players, coaches, and officials - a timeframe almost unheard of for professional hockey games.

There were goals in the third round of the shootout as Straubing's Justin Mapletoft and München's Martin Buchwieser each scored on their attempts to keep the shootout knotted at 1-1. Christian Wichart and Tobias Draxinger scored again in the fourteenth round to keep the shootout even at 2-2.

München captain Stéphane Julien appeared to score in the seventeenth round, but the goal was waved off by referee Lars Brüggemann after the video replay showed the puck did not fully cross the goal line. 34 skaters in, two goals, no winner yet. Will this game ever end?

As an aside, Lars Brüggemann is an interesting fellow. He is a former player from the DEL, and has now turned his sights on officiating in the German Elite League. Brüggemann played one season in the QMJHL with the Hull Olympiques in 1993-94, recording one goal, three assists, and 93 PIMs over 58 games. He left for the DEL after that season, but returned to North America to play in the ECHL three years later. He suited up with the Jacksonville Lizard Kings in 1997-98, scoring one goal, six assists, and spending 91 minutes in the penalty box over 49 games. The rest of his career played out in Germany. But back to this story....

Neville Rautert and Andy Canzanello exchanged goals in the eighteenth round, and both Martin Buchwieser and Tobias Draxinger scored again in the twentieth round as the two teams remained knotted at 4-4 through the shootout. But things were about to change in the 21st round.

Straubing’s Éric Meloche, who played for the Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers in the NHL, blasted a slapshot past Sebastien Elwing to put Straubing up by a 5-4 score. The game came down to Stéphane Julien, but the München captain was stonewalled Dimitri Pätzold as Straubing won the shootout by a 5-4 score and the game by a 5-4 score after 21 rounds of shootout.

The longest shootout in IIHF competition was 13 rounds between Belarus and France at the 2002 IIHF U-20 Championship. Belarus eventually won the game on Dmitri Mialeshka's goal in the 25th round as Belarus downed France. The NHL's longest shootout is still remembered between the New York Rangers and Washington Capitals from November 25, 2005. I mean, how could anyone forget this goal?

Eric Meloche's name is the answer to the trivia question: Who scored the goal to end hockey's longest shootout in history?

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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