Sweet home opener for Puckers against Mulhouse
After winning their season opener on the road against the lower pool team Belfort three weeks earlier, the Puckers were facing the stronger upper pool team Mulhouse for their home opener. Mulhouse had won their opener in a commanding fashion against Strasbourg 1, but they came to face a well prepared and goal-hungry Puckers team.
The Puckers first line started the game as they always do, got the puck deep in the Mulhouse end and established camp, which they did pretty much throughout the game, creating chance after chance and swarming the Mulhouse net. But they could not capitalize on most of their chances. A bit over 5 minutes into the period, it was Mulhouse that actually did capitalize on a failed clearing attempt by the Puckers third line to get the game’s first goal. The puck trickled in between goalie Thierry Van der Kallen’s legs and the guests had the surprise lead on one of their first chances.
See the goal on youtube courtesy of André Cid:
The Puckers kept on coming at Mulhouse in waves, line after line, creating chance after chance. Finally, at the 11:31 mark, the second line broke the ice when captain Yves Barthels picked up the loose puck at the side of the net and got a lucky bounce off a Mulhouse defenseman to tie the game at 1. The Canadian duo of Nick Aubin and Jonathan Laforge kept the puck alive behind the net and Barthels just buried it.
Just 17 seconds later, on the same shift, Barthels gave the Puckers the lead that they wouldn’t relinquish for the rest of the game. Another face off win, another great combination by the Canadian duo to recover the rebound behind the net and Laforge feeds Barthels in the slot who snaps it into the left-hand corner for the 2-1 lead.
The third line then redeemed themselves for giving up the goal by scoring one of their own. Patrick Ahlstrand picks the pocket of a Mulhouse defender and feeds it to Miikka Heinonen in the slot who goes five-hole on a turnaround shot to light the lamp.
The period ended without another goal, but the Puckers dominated the guest and had the advantage on shots. Van Der Kallen made a couple of saves on breakaways to keep his team’s lead safe.
The second period was more of the same. Line 1 and 2 creating chance after chance and Van der Kallen killing any attempt by Mulhouse to get back into the game. Then towards the middle of the second period, a flurry of penalties on both teams was followed by a flurry of goals. On the first powerplay, the “black” line established the game in the Mulhouse end before a missed clearing attempt ended up on the stick of new recruit Frédéric Leduc. The new Canadian blueliner ripped a shot that Charles Vallée deflected in the slot and the score was 4-1.
10 minutes later, with the Puckers on the penalty kill, Nick Aubin stole the puck in the neutral zone and won the race towards the goal before putting a beautiful backhander top shelf to score a shorthanded goal that basically put the game away for good.
21 seconds later, Momo Lutov, playing the cycle with David Donzel deep in the Mulhouse end, circled back to the front of the net and wrists an easy shot to score his first goal of the season.
Mulhouse would score their second goal of the game just before the period ended on a weird bounce that handcuffed netminder Van der Kallen.
The third period was then all Puckers again. Mulhouse did have one last breath of resistance in the first few minutes of the period, but Van der Kallen stoned them on the breakaway, turning aside any shot that he faced. It was a great performance for the Dutch netminder.
The Puckers ended up scoring 4 more goals to end the game. First, scoring leader Jonathan Laforge finally scored on a feed from Bohus Kosthoryz with a perfect wrister into the top left corner just a couple of minutes into the third period. Then Aubin scored his second of the night on the powerplay, Laforge with another assist. Vallée then had his second of the game on passes from Lutov and Mike Mekhaeel. Finally Laforge scored his second on another combination with Aubin.
Another impressive win by the defending champions. Next opponent will be current league leader Epinal (who played and won one more game) on November 12 in Epinal.