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TWO FACES OF THE GENERALS
General Musings by Todd Rourke
December 2, 2001
Coming off their first win of the season at home, the Greensboro Generals were looking to make it two in a row. The Richmond Renegades, after having lost a 2-1 decision to Johnstown the previous night, were looking to avoid the start of a losing streak. Hockey may be played in three twenty minute periods but this match proved to be a tale of "two halves." The Generals played well through the first thirty minutes of the contest but lost their way halfway through the second period and went down in defeat, 4-2.
The ice surface had been a bit of a problem on Friday night. The voice of the Generals, Arley Johnson, informed this writer before the game that the zamboni had been fitted with a new blade in hopes of solving the issue. While there were some isolated problems with the ice softening, by in large it didn't appear to be as much of a problem Saturday as it had been the night before.
The Generals started off hot in the opening frame, with scores from new comer Andrei Lupandin at 5:12 and less than a minute later by Brian Loney at 5:47. Richmond's Jerry Gernander brought the Renegades within one with a score at 6:30, but the Generals held on to finish the period with a one goal lead.
The first half of the second period was relatively uneventful, both teams applying varying degrees of pressure but neither side giving much away. The Generals, to this point, hustled well but the Renegades always seemed to be able to put a man in just the right spot to break things up. The Generals passing, which was not particularly sharp at times, contributed to the opportunistic defensive swarms executed by the Renegades.
At 9:50 of the second, the Renegades broke through and tied the game up at two a piece. The Renegades fired off a series of quick shots on goal which kept General's goalie Bujar Amidovski busy with the pads and paddle. In the middle of the traffic, Richmond's Aaron Fox picked up a rebound right in front of the net and snapped it past Amidovski for the score.
The Generals began skating much more tentatively once the score was tied. The change was visible at both ends of the ice: more difficultly sustaining offensive charges and an inability to clear the puck out of their own end quickly. Richmond's Gernander capitalized on it during the series which led to the eventual game-winner. He weaved around the ice to the right of Amidovski without having a body put on him, waiting for help. Sean Patchell came up around the corner of the net, took a feed from Gernander, and beat Amidovski cleanly.
The final Richmond score, coming at 5:16 in the third period, was a result of the Generals not successfully clearing the puck out of their end. Dan Vandermeer of the Renegades picked up an errant pass and dumped it quickly to Joe Blaznek. Blaznek came in to Amidovski's left and let fly with a slapshot which found the net over the netminder's shoulder.
As the third period wound down, the Generals began to generate some opportunities, but found themselves with one more obstacle: Richmond goalie Rastislav Stana. Stana played well throughout but saved some of his best work for the final period, gobbling up rebounds and denying Greensboro any second or third chances after a shot on goal.
"Their goalie stood in his head tonight," said Townshend after the game. "What was it, forty shots? [Stana] stood in his head and we just didn't bury our scoring chances. That's what it comes right down to ... [otherwise] we outplayed them."
"We've got a short bench but I'm impressed with the effort we put out," Townshend went on to say. "We only had seven forwards and they were going every other shift. Shooting a team forty to thirty-one with only six or seven forwards I think is a big task. We just didn't bury our scoring chances tonight. Just gotta bear down on our chances."
Contributing to the short bench were some notables in the "did not play" department. Winger Sal Manganaro was out on crutches with his left foot taped up. "He took a shot off the foot," commented Townshend, "it was x-rayed but nothing's broken. It's just a bruise, I guess." Chris Brassard was again not dressed, yet has curiously remained off the injured reserve. "He's been cleared to play, it's up to him" said Townshend, when asked about Brassard's status. "[He was cleared] a few days ago, doctor said he's all right ... it's up to [Brassard]."