In last post, we left off at halftime. NZL 1, TUR 1.
It's just occurred to me that I will see most of my team-mates at Interzones in a few weeks, and I've been steadily taking the piss out of many of them for months now. There may be residual payback building up, so I will attempt to take the piss out of myself a bit to make up for it in this post.
Should be easy, I'm a slow moving target these days. As the second half started, puck went camera-side off the strike and dropped back to Coskun the Turkish left half, who proceeded to barrel lanes down the wall with me hanging off him like a rag trying to slow him down in awkward position, before finally getting thrown off him like a cowboy off a bull.
Here's the clip...
Turkey back up our end pressuring hard. Rob saves us some blushes and then Andrew in great defensive position battles away with it until it's called Adv for the Turks.
As play starts, Ismail the turkish center/fullback has a bit of a dilemma. He only has one forward, the other 2 subbing in so no curtain of bodies, he ends up playing for time until the others get there. Bit of a toss-up sometimes when you're in attacking territory... Keep all your guys in but winded so you can have 6 on the play, or sub some but risk them not making it back when the buzzer sounds. Especially in todays game where refs are very often trying to speed the game up to remove time-killing and an advantage for the defending team, it can actually affect both.
We then have a slightly bum-puckering moment right in front of goal as someone (er, me) accidentally whacks the puck with his free-arm as he's trying to whip his stick around to knockdown. Ends up just an advantage and luckily for us not a kick-out but the refs have a wee chat to be happy about it and it gives both teams a few extra seconds to breathe.
Refs de-bunking the latest Trump fake news
In all seriousness, there is often a bit of frustration from spectators and even commentators about why the refs conference so much. People say "why don't they just have the balls to make a call!"
It's not often (ever) explained by the commentators why they conference, but it's actually really important that they do and one of the best improvements they have made in recent years (I think). There are a lot of things happening and the refs see a lot from 3 different viewpoints, sometimes they see the same foul but often they see different ones from their different angles. Often the reason for the quick conference is to check the timeline of the play... what happened first, what affected what came after, what then becomes play under advantage... it's really important they get that right so most players who want them to decipher the calls correctly are quite happy for them to conference.
Off the Adv, we get a great shot of the Turkish hanging curtain of bodies. There was a bit of discussion about what was legal etc.
It's a solid block of bodies to swim through, you can't really. But hey, it's their 3m advantage, they can go where they like. As I understood it, if Ismail passed to the forwards, no issue with blocking/sheperding. If he swims straight under them, ditto no problem. But sometimes he was swimming around the side, using them as a shield to block the forwards trying to get to the puck... that's sheperding/obstruction as soon as he does that.
The second issue is that the Turkish forwards often (almost always) when play started kicked forwards a meter or 2, or tried to, swimming into any defender setup behind them and pushing them back. This is the obstruction the refs were really looking closely for I think, and on this occasion I think (but I'm not sure) that's what seems to have been called. They just shunt all the defence into the goal like a snow plough.
#9 Bilal goes to the bin for 2mins in I think the first binning of the game. Turkey contain until he's back in very well and keep it in our half. Then they get an adv and push right up on the goal just by going straight, but Nick gets a fantastic body position and saves, before Yusuf #12 tunnels under him into the goal and is called for barging.
Pretty tense! Great pressure here from Turkey.
From the Adv, as Yusuf (who is very very involved this game, and tournament) turns with the puck Jeremy gets a great hit on the puck from a nice position...
Play is pretty grindy for a few minutes, we have a bit of territory, they then have more and an Adv on our bin that Nick comes away from patiently, before Jeremy makes a nice pass to Andrew breaking onto it strongly, and this catches the Turkish backline a bit out of shape, Andrew getting a nose ahead of the cover defender who is up a bit high and we get a break up the right which spreads into the middle when Andrew holds onto it and lays it back.
Some nice skill from Andrew to keep hold and Nick to keep it alive as he's caught with the puck before managing to force it out to Andre who goes on a run on the goal geez you gotta watch him he's quick that boy. Coskun gets back to drop on him just feet from the goal with a nice tackle, but the next phase of kiwis pile in and we manage to hold pressure on the goal corner for a good few seconds and Turkey unable to clear, big opportunity for us.
When Coskun made that initial tackle, 2 Turkish forwards subbed out, and they are the reason we are able to turn and keep pushing in for a few seconds... the fresh guys finally get on the goal but we snake a pass in and Jeremy has a bang on the goal wall in strong position and that I'm guessing is where a ref spots the Turkish glove on the puck, and they call it penalty shot. Jesse and Rob strode out to take it, and Coskun took defenders position.
If you look closely you can see the puck totally bounce off Jesse's stick just after he takes possession. We had a clear view from the subs box and everyone's heart skipped a beat, mine skipped 2 due to old age.
Jesse has a pretty fantastic dummy, and he pulled one out of the box there for us.
Score was now 2-1 to us. Benny called a timeout and had some wise words of which I remember none at all.
The chat worked pretty well on Ben though, who shot out on the strike and got us some great momentum to the left side. Play then rolled back down our left wall and after that big strike Ben subbed, and brought in a fresh Andrew Harris to spark what was probably the play of the game.
Actually a bunch of our guys subbed as the puck got to our subs bench, and I guess this shows just how dangerous it can be attacking on your opponents sub box. We dropped a goal to Argentina in precisely this area from a fresh sub early in the comp.
Andrew grabs the puck and looks for a little space wide, but as Coskun shoots up aggressively Andrew pulls the puck inside him with that lanky left arm, and it gets a bit tangled as Coskun turns and hooks, but Rob has subbed in at the same time and he bunts the puck free on the other side and slides it up to Hamish who has also just subbed in, and who buggers off down the pool and scores a dramatic runaway.
The Turks really had to attack hard and make something happen, and it's risky, that's the game. Funny, most of the time those tend to go against teams I've been in, to get a break like that in our favour in a big game is a welcome change, but the best thing about the goal I thought was the actions of everyone who wasn't Hamish, who was busy scoring the goal. The rest of the guys were sprinting up behind him to follow up, and then to give him a pat on the head and they were all so fast and fit, that within 3 seconds of the goal going in this was the picture at the surface
...I'm 2 screens to the left, treading water and wheezing. Man these young guys are fit. Anyway what a goal! Fantastic play, really.
Games not over yet! Turkey call a timeout and re-focus, it's about 2:30 left, easily enough time to get 2 goals to equalize, especially with the stop-clock about to come into play... the game is still totally live.
The next strike is a beaut. 2 crazy fast guys going balls-out at each other, Ben pulls a miracle managing to get a dummy through despite only winning it by a bees-dick... if you are a forward, surely watching this one makes you feel a bit romantic
It's all on 6 vs 6, we manage to pressure a bit after the strike and the Turks for the first time in the tournament look to go backwards and sideways to relieve pressure, but can't get around Andrews lanky left arm who catches and traps the puck and we almost get a goal but it's disallowed for gloving. Suddenly it's all action in the last minutes!
Turkey pressure into our half and we slow the play down a bit for a minute, it's a long passage of play and everyone is now starting to feel pretty wrecked, it's been a long game, bodies on the bottom are very noticeably thinning on both sides.
Turkey get one last crack, Volkan throwing a big pass but Ed manages to hit it down before the forward can get on it and time slowly dribbles away.
Game ends with a very relieved us winning 3-1.