Thursday night, April 7th, 2011, is a day that should now live in infamy.
It should have been such a forgettable night. The 4th place Space Invaders were facing the 1st place Mad Hatters in the first round of the ‘B’ league spring playoffs. That sounds like a miss-match in-and-of-itself, but consider also this was the 8-0 Hatters, vs, the 1-6-1 Space Invaders. In two games the Hatters had outscored the Space Invaders 18-4. Not only that, three of the Invaders best players, Randy Rottenbiller, Cullen Fortney and Mike Thigason were missing for the evening–and defensemen Henry Roberts was relegated to coach after suffering a broken rib in the last league game, on a vicious hit from Dave Castro.
Dan Cutforth makes one of his 86 saves against Brock Sampson - Photo by Brendan Rohan
Consider also that the Hatters were the first 8-0 team in B league history. Consider also that the Space Invaders were 0-5-1 going into week 8 of the season, and squeaked out a victory against the Blanks just to pull into 4th place and make the playoffs. So their only win had come against the worst team, and even that was a close game. The Hatters effectively clinched a playoff spot week 2, a 10-4 annihilation of the Space Invaders.
As team captain Scott Cremeans put it, “Our basic game plan throughout the season could best be described as a house of cards. From a distance, if the opponent wasn’t paying attention or was drunk enough, they might have thought we were packing a castle, but as soon as they so much as sneezed, we’d completely fall apart and lay flat while they walked all over us.”
“We did everything we could to lose games.”, Defensmen Galen Moll reflected. “Sometimes we’d give up 5 unanswered points in the first five minutes of a game. Other times we’d give up 5 unanswered points in the last five minutes of the game. We scored on ourselves many times, sometimes we’d pass the puck right to players in our slot so they could get more shots. There were entire games where we didn’t complete a breakout pass, not a single one. ”
“If we stop looking like the worst team in history, what argument do we have that we were the greatest?” – Dan Cutforth
As Travis Tveidt put it, “Sometimes we’d throw our hands in the air like we just didn’t care.. but that was just a ruse. We did care, we just sucked. And we sucked hard.”
But all of these numbers still don’t fully display how big of a mismatch this game was. The last time the two had played, the Hatters scored 4 goals in the first 4 minutes, en route to a 8-0 destruction. They stopped shooting 10 minutes in as the game had gotten embarrassing.
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