A HUGE week for PCOHL Hockey. The first three rounds of playoff hockey established absolutely nothing, with the possibility still alive that the playoffs could end with every team TIED at 2-2. Pundits were scouring the rulebook for the fine print on Playoff Tie-breakers.

Early Game – Italy vs Ireland

The early game of this late round robin series featured undefeated 2-0 Italy against 1-1 Ireland. Ireland needed a win to preserve their shot at Gold while Italy could guarantee their spot in the premier game with a victory.

The depleted Irish were without three top forwards and a defenceman in this one while the Romans were almost full strength with all their top players on the ice. But hey, they aren’t called the Fighting Irish for nuthin.

Both goaltenders took control early with only one goal in the first period off the stick of Steve Atchison. 1-0 Italy going into the second period. Ireland was pretty satisfied keeping Italy’s big guns off the board in the first.

Ireland tried to regroup in the second period, but Italy’s strong D limited their scoring chance while capitalizing on opportunities to make it 3-0 after two periods with goals from Marcelo D’Iluzio and Neil Kelly. Ireland’s backstop Stewart Henderson definitely seeing more rubber in this one.

Ireland tried to get things going in the third but this Italian squad is peaking at the right time and simply couldn’t be beat. Adding goals from Eric Fletcher and Dave Vincelli in the third period, Italy earns a commanding 5-0 win. Led by Tomi Niemenen’s first shutout of the playoffs, the Italians have secured their spot in the Gold Medal Game, and will look to stay sharp with a match against Slovenia next week. Ireland, at 1-2, plays 0-3 Scotland next week, a game that may determine which of the two sits in the press booth on Championship Day.

Italy”s Player of the Game goes to ssss-niper Steve Atchison while two-way D-man Augustino Falcone gets the nod for Ireland.

Ireland Player of the Game Augustino Falcone
Italy Player of the Game Steve Atchison

Late Game – Scotland versus Portugal

The late game was a critical matchup for both teams. Portugal could cement their spot in the Gold game against Italy with a win while Scotland could still make the Gold game themselves with a win here and another against Ireland next week. Pundits have noted that the “powerful on paper” Scots have begun to show up on the ice as well. Could this game set up a huge upset final in 2024?.

Backstops Art Senkowski and Frank Rispoli controlling their nets early with no goals through half a period until Scotland’s rookie sensation Steve Boyle bulged the twine at 9:50 of the first period. Scotland 1, Portugal 0.

Scottish fans’ hearts started beating faster three minutes later when Tim Lochner slid one past Senkowski to put the Glaswegians up 2-0 against the Portuguese juggernaut. Scotland supporters tried to maintain their composure but the stands were littered with haggis and McEwen when Scottish sniper Patty Sharp rifled one by Senkowski to give the Scots a 3-0 lead late in the first period.

The Lisbonites managed one back from Dave Woodside late in the first but still headed into the second period in an unexpected hole against the 5th place regular season team.

Both teams tightened up their defence in the second which remained scoreless until Portugal MVP Greg Platt got the period’s only marker, bringing Portugal within a goal going into period 3. Several brawls in the stands between Portuguese and Scottish fans struggling to maintain their composure against the fever pitch on the ice.

Both goalies continuing to look strong into the third until utility man Joe Peacock sent the Scots into a FRENZY, putting the kilts ahead 4-2 with only half a period of hockey left to play! Do you believe in miracles!!!

A desperate Portuguese squad pounded the Scots until Robin Chantaj managed to score with 9 minutes left to get the Portuguese within 1. A few minutes later, playoff leader Mike Russo scored to tie the game at 4, the Portuguese bench going crazy.

It was back and forth action as the clock wound down when Russo broke Scottish hearts with his second goal of the period to put the favored Portuguese up 5-4 with only two minutes to go.

The Scottish pulled their goalie and battled for the tying goal but Dave Wodar found the empty net and that’s how this one ended: Portugal 6, Scotland 4.

Scotland’s Player of the Game goes to Tim Lochner while playoff points leader Mike Russo earns honours for Portugal.

Scotland POG Tim Lochner
Portugal POG Mike Russo

Championship Day Picture

The Gold Medal Game is now settled. The MIGHTY ITALIANS face off against the UPSTART PORTUGUESE! for PCOHL SUPREMACY.

It’s Spaghetti and Meatballs versus Piri Piri chicken. It’s custard tarts versus canoli. It’s Leo Brideau versus Greg Platt. It’s gonna be AWESOME!

The bronze medal game is still very much in the air. If Ireland beats Scotland next week then Ireland and Slovenia will play for Bronze. But things get complicated if Scotland wins their final match raising the possibility of a two or even three-way tie between Scotland, Ireland and Slovenia.

Playoff ties are governed by the PCOHL constitution.

Therefore, if Scotland beats Ireland and Italy beats Slovenia week, there will be a three-way tie for the bronze game which can’t be resolved head to head. Goals for and against will determine who plays.

If Scotland beats Ireland and Slovenia beats Italy, then Slovenia will play Scotland for Bronze and the Irish will cry into their Guinness on Championship Day.

So some meaningful games next Friday. See you on the ice!