With the holiday break fast approaching, the Firebirds teams each had one more game to play. This time, the squads would be heading up to Great Park to close out 2020.
Varsity would go first with its second meeting with the undefeated Orange Lutheran Lancers. Notably, Black Dog Hockey Entertainment made a last-minute decision to live stream this game instead of the JSerra/Santa Margarita game, which was at the same time. Considering the long-standing history of that rivalry and what both of those clubs mean to the league, this was a huge nod to both PRHC and OLu for the game they expected.
OLu got on it first with a nice goal and strong work on the forecheck in the first 2 minutes of play. It was clear OLu was ready to go to work. PRHC got going from there and battled back with a power play goal midway in the first by Tyler Sheridan. The teams went back to work and at the 7:46 mark, a dust up between the teams left the Firebirds with another power play. As the PP was ending, Aidan MacDonell would find the back of the net off a rebound from Clayton Moore. The Lancers would not sit tight, though, quickly putting two goals in at 10:27 and 11:37. With the Lancers up, the pressure was on, then in the closing moments of the 2nd, Will Schneider would power his way to the front of the net to pick up a rebound and tie the game up at 3. The clubs would go to the ice cut in a tie.
The Firebirds came back with a focus to get the job done, and early in the 3rd, Aidan MacDonell would get his 2nd of the night on a follow up to a Jace Phillips breakaway. The teams battled it out to the 7:47 mark of the third when tempers started to flare again. From the fracas, OLu was given a power play, and once they established the zone, were able to find Jackson Ferry for a great shot for the tie.
As the game came to an end of regulation in a tie, Hayden Shoemake was called for tripping penalty, which meant PRHC would go into the overtime period shorthanded. A minute into that PK, Clayton Moore would be called for a questionable hit from behind. This put OLu up 2 men for a minute in OT. The Lancers worked hard and moved the puck around but could not find the back of the net. As the penalties came to an end, Jace Phillips chased a puck down along boards in the offensive zone, firing a quick shot on net, and Ethan Kuhrt streaked to the front, and in one motion put the rebound upstairs for the OT winner. Neither team will see each other again until playoff time. Considering the intensity of both the players and the crowd, the meeting should be a must-see event.
After this game, the PRHC Firebirds JV team lined up against Capo United. Capo continues to grow its program and has a big stable of up-and-coming players. PRHC would come out strong in the first with a flurry of goals from Malakai Lynch, and two from Abel Martinez. But Capo would not sit back and let this go unattested. In the second, Alex Pill and Cole Ventura would answer for Capo.
Moving into the 3rd, Capo would tie the game up with a strong forecheck from Jade Spradlin and Cole Ventura. At this point, it was anyone’s game to win. With the Firebirds short on the bench, Coach Hans Richter moved center Colton Clapham back to D. The Firebirds believe as a system that winning starts from the goal out and wanted to make sure the back end was protected. Into the 3rd, Coach Hans moved Colton back to center and it paid dividends and he found the back of the net at the 7:39 mark.
The teams battled it out with the Firebirds having a 1 goal lead late, when Capo pulled the goalie for the extra man. But PRHC went aggressive and on a solid forecheck, Aiden Engels found the puck in the high offensive zone and shot for the empty netter.
With the wins secured, Pacific Ridge Hockey Club would like to say to all our fellow teams in the ADHSHL, “Happy Holidays and see you in 2020.”