Le beauté: Yan the Man puts up the shutters
Bermuda got their bid for Masters World Ball Hockey Championships glory back on track after coming from behind to beat USA 3-2 in a shoot-out at the Pembroke Community Centre yesterday.
After a goalless opening period, the Americans finally broke Bermuda’s resistance when forward JJ Deviney scored after a face-off early in the second period.
However, Bermuda are made of sterner stuff these days and came roaring back with forward Matthew Benson equalising with a shot from distance.
The home side then pulled ahead for the first time when Benson scored his second of the game during a power play.
But the Americans refused to roll over and were back on even terms when forward Keith Ciana scored with less than two minutes remaining in the period.
It was still anyone’s game heading into the third and final period of this physical contest played at a high tempo.
However, neither team managed to penetrate the other’s defences, with Bermuda squandering two power plays in the final two minutes of the period.
Yan LeClerc, the Bermuda goaltender, made a plethora of saves in regulation time and came up big when it mattered most during the shoot-out where he saved efforts from forward Anthony Cillo and defender Tom Gallagher.
Bermuda would not be as wasteful at the other end, where defender Tom Washington and forward Cory Caouette converted either side of Shannon Gosse’s saved attempt to seal the deal and spark wild celebrations, both on and off the rink.
The hard-fought victory, achieved in sweltering conditions, was Bermuda’s second of the tournament and the perfect response after losing to Italy 6-3 the previous night.
“I think we let ourselves down a little bit last night [against Italy], but we knew what we did wrong and we talked about it and regrouped to make sure we didn’t do the same mistakes again,” Pete Brodsky, the coach, told The Royal Gazette.
“I’ll give the guys credit for bouncing back. Again, it could’ve turned into a negative and they came out wanting to be stronger. We played really well.
“That is a very good team we played today. That US team had some of the best shots I’ve seen and they’re just a great team. It’s a big accomplishment, so I’m proud of the guys and it was a good one for us today.
“It was tight out there, the US don’t give you much. They play hard and don’t give you a lot of chances. When they get their chances, they tend to bury them and so we had to make sure we didn’t give them too many.”
Brodsky hailed LeClerc, who made an astonishing 21 saves during the match.
“Our goaltender Yan played great,” Brodsky said. “He was standing on his head as usual and we scored just enough to win, as it went to a shoot-out and it comes down to anybody’s game.
“I thought it was another entertaining game. Other than the loss, the other two games we’ve played have both been very entertaining and we’ve been lucky to come out on the right side of them.
“It’s been good hockey and hopefully it’s something the fans are enjoying, too.”
For Caouette, it was his second game winner of the tournament, having also scored Bermuda’s decider against the Czech Republic in their tournament opener.
“Cory has two game winners and we’ve only won two, so I’d say his percentages are pretty good right now for sure,” Brodsky said.
“He’s our top-line centre man, so he’s a guy we rely on for offence. He’s pulling his weight like everybody else; it was a nice team effort.”
Bermuda will play Canada and Slovakia in their final round-robin matches today, as they aim to cement a top-four finish that will take them into the qualification stage.
Third in the six-team group B, Bermuda travel west to face the fancied Canadians at the old Oracle shed in Dockyard at 10am and then return to tournament central at the Pembroke Community Centre at 7.15pm for the Slovakia match.
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