Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Pirates Move On

I'm a wee bit behind on this thanks to my involvement at the U SPORTS National Women's Ice Hockey Championship, but let's get caught up on another team that I follow thanks to friendship. The Danish Metal Ligaen is currently into its playoffs, and the Aalborg Pirates are in those playoffs as the second-seeded team in the Metal Ligaen after finishing with 95 points. They started those playoffs on March 9 against the Frederikshavn White Hawks in their best-of-seven series. Frederikshavn was the fifth-seeded team on the strength of an 84-point season, so this series looked like it might be fun!

Game One went on March 9 at Cool East Arena in Aalborg, Denmark. Aalborg's Julian Jakobsen opened the scoring at 17:10, and the one-goal lead would hold until 6:09 of the third period when Frederikshavn's Kristian Jensen found twine behind Tadeas Galansky to make it 1-1. Aalborg, however, would not be denied on this night as Peter Quenneville netted the game-winning goal at 14:06 with a shot that got past Thomas Lillie, and the Pirates would secure the 2-1 victory to take a 1-0 series lead.

Game Two moved to Nordjyske Bank Arena on March 11 as Frederikshavn played host to Aalborg. The home side would hit the scoreboard first as Cameron Spiro put the White Hawks up 1-0 just 5:09 into this game when he beat Tadeas Galansky. It would take until late in the second period, but Aalborg would get that one back when Christopher Frederiksen found the back of the net on the power-play at 18:55 to make it 1-1. Just 26 seconds later, Olivier Hinse beat Thomas Lillie to put the Pirates up 2-1 as they took the lead into the second intermission after outshooting the White Hawks 16-2 in the frame!

The Pirates would extend the lead at 14:26 of the third period when Pierre-Olivier Morin found space past Lillie to make it 3-1. The White Hawks would pressure the Pirates, and Mark Hurtubise would cut the deficit to one goal when he scored at 17:43. Even with Lillie on the bench for the final minute, the Pirates withstood the attack as the captured victory in Game Two by a 3-2 score to take a 2-0 series lead!

Game Three went back to Aalborg on March 13, and the home team found itself down after the first period thanks to Frederikshavn's Nick Olesen scored an unassisted goal at 13:54 past Tadeas Galansky. From the start of the second period, however, it was all Pirates. Kirill Kabanov scored 25 seconds into the middle frame, and Peter Quenneville would add two goals at 9:57 and 19:34 to make it a 3-1 game for the Pirates. They weren't done there, either. Olivier Hinse scored at 14:32 and Christopher Frederiksen closed out the scoring at 15:15 as the Pirates scored five unanswered goals to claim a 5-1 victory and a stranglehold 3-0 lead in the series!

Game Four would head back to Nordjyske Bank Arena on March 15, and this would be a highly entertaining game as Frederikshavn needed to win to stay alive while Aalborg was looking to close out the series. This game would be scoreless until early in the third period when Aalborg finally opened the scoring when Clay Anderson's point shot on the power-play eluded Thomas Lillie at 5:40 to give the Pirates the 1-0 lead. They would double the lead four minutes later when Henry Hardarson checked in with his first goal at 9:27, and it appeared the Pirates were on their way to a sweep.

But hold on there, sports fans. 37 seconds after Hardarson scored, the White Hawks got one back off the stick of Mark Hurtubise to make it a 2-1 game. Henri Heino would tie the game at 16:42 on the power-play when he beat Tadeas Galansky, and things got really out of control when Henrik Eriksson dented twine at 18:54 to give the White Hawks the 3-2 lead with 1:06 remaining in the game!

A late penalty to Hurtubise with 29 seconds left was all the fodder that the Pirates needed. Ten seconds after Hurtubise took a seat in the sin bin, Martin Lefebrve sniped a power-play goal at 19:41, and this game would be knotted up at 3-3 meaning we'd need some free hockey to find a winner! It was off to overtime in Game Four!

It would take 14:59 to determine a winner, but a winner was found. As the image at the top of the article shows, the Pirates would earn the victory off the stick of Martin Lefebrve to win the game 4-3 in extra time and sweep the White Hawks out of the playoffs!

I'll be keeping an eye on the Metal Ligaen playoff situation as head coach Brandon Reid has the Pirates rolling right now. The break between the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds will be good for letting the bumps and bruises heal, but the Pirates will now play for a medal of some colour as they are one of the four remaining teams. With a little bit of luck, we might be talking about a possible gold medal series in the near future!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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