Like the legendary U.S. postal couriers of days gone by, neither rain, nor sleet, nor snow – and we had all three in Quebec City on Tuesday – could deter the New York Americans (Pee Wee Rangers AA) as they faced-off against the Moncton Wildcats in an afternoon exhibition game at the Complexe Trois Glaces in Quebec City.
As we’ve seen in other games, the Canadian teams like to come out hard. In the early going, goaltender Katie Desa faced a barrage of shots and traffic through her crease. Nevertheless she easily held her ground, swatted the puck aside, and received more than enough moral and physical support from her teammates, who backed her up 100%.
Having spent the previous day away from the rink, romping in a tubing winter paradise, the New Yorkers were a little slow to find their legs, but when they did they came back hard at the Wildcats controlling the puck in the Moncton end of the ice. Nevertheless the first period ended 0-0.
It was much the same in the second period. Both teams had powerplay opportunities. Neither team was able to convert. At the mid-way point of the game, Katie Desa, who continues to shine in goal, was replaced by the equally capable Gavin Moffatt. Nothing changed. Moncton was thwarted on every attempt as backchecking forwards and a versatile defense corps consisting of Lukas Klemm, Mika Petersen, Alex Luff, Shea Thibault, Owen Kroboth, and Joey Potter continued their stalwart play. The second period ended with the score still deadlocked at 0-0.
At the beginning of the third period, goaltender Gavin Moffatt turned back a serious Moncton scoring threat. Both teams continued to trade chances, but this was a day that defense ruled the ice. At least until there were less than four minutes remaining in the game. Taking a feed from Tatum Fitzmaurice, Tristan Aitkenhead made a razor-sharp pass to Joey Potter, who was now playing forward. Potter closed in on the Moncton net and made no mistake to give the New York Americans (Pee Wee Rangers AA) a 1-0 lead with just 2:15 remaining. As the final 135 seconds ticked down, the Wildcats were not only unable to score, they were unable to pull their goaltender as the New York Americans (Pee Wee Rangers AA) kept them bottled up in their zone. Final score 1-0. The New York Americans (Pee Wee Rangers AA) grinded out a hard-fought win over Moncton, Katie Desa and Gavin Moffatt combining for a shutout victory.
But as soon as the game was over, attention turned to the task at hand: a real tournament game on Wednesday, February 17 against the Baie-Comeau Drakkar at the big house - the Videotron Center. From this point on, all tournament games are elimination games. The plan is to survive and advance.
As such, coach Mark Messier reminded his team that “it was critical to get rest,” and he set an early curfew for the players. Afterwards, the coach commented further saying, “We knew it was going to be a good, hard game for us. There were great chances on both sides. I was really happy with the pace. We’ll be ready for tomorrow.”