Saturday the AIHL season began for both the Nightmare and Surge organizations. For the home squads it was a disappointing start and for the visitors it was an impressive start in a tough venue.
The Nightmare minor team was expected to be strong this season and they certainly didn’t disappoint opening night. In game one it was a sluggish start for both teams, as they skated off the rust of a long off season and found their wheels. In the first period of game one, passes were off, players over skated pucks, shots were wide and only Tom Fadako (1) was able to light the lamp in the first period to give the Nightmare a 1-0 edge. The second the puck dropped for the second period, the rust seemed to disappear and the Nightmare began to pounce. Just six seconds into the second frame the Nightmare increased their lead as Eric Oman hooked up with Bill Buchok (1) for a goal. Not even a minute later the Nightmare struck again as Wes Barnshaw (1) tallied his first of the season. Then again seconds later it was Mike Craig (1) with his first. The Surge showed some life, as Alex Fey (1) scored to cut the defecit to just three goals, but that would be it for the Surge offense in this game. They did manage to nuetralize the Nightmare attack for a good portion of the second period, but a short handed goal by Mike Craig (2) and an unassisted effort by Tim Silberstein (1) capped the scoring and give the Nightmare a 6-1 victory. Rich Geiser made 11 saves on just 12 shots against in the victory.
By the start of game two, the Nightmare minor team had found its swagger. Tom Fadako (2) scored just 8 seconds into the game and the Nightmare never looked back. First period goals came from everywhere; Craig (3), Fadako (3), Silberstein (2), & Blazer (1). The lone bright spot in game two for the Surge was once again Alex Fey (2) who scored for the Surge just before the half time break. In the second it was shock and awe, as the Nightmare offense kicked it into yet another gear. Goals were scored by Ryan Ferrel (1), Bill Buchok (2), Eric Oman (1,2), Kevin Machenry (1), Tim Silberstein (2), & Fadako (4) who completed his hat trick with just a minute left in the game. PJ Slone stopped 14 of 15 shots in his first victory of the season. “This was a statement game to the rest of the league,” shouted the Nightmare bench as the clock ticked off its final seconds.
The Nightmare Minors (2-0) will play their home opener next Saturday as they welcome the Southampton Cyclones (0-0) into Flyers Skate Zone. The two squads met in a very heated championship final of the pre-season festival in late November. The Nightmare edged the Cyclones 1-0 in that game and should set up for a great early season Mid-Atlantic series.
Meanwhile the Surge (0-2) look to rebound from a disappointing start as they travel to play the Marple Gladiators (0-2) who will also be looking for their first win of the season.
The Elite matchup was a bit more contested, although the outcomes were no different. In game one the Nightmare seemed to use the momentum carried over from the minor games to jump out quickly to a 2-0 lead. Goals came from Ryan Sobieski (1) and Mike Longo (1). The highlight of the entire evening came as the Surge were buzzing aroung the net, down 1-0 with an opportunity to tie the game, when a sprawled Sal Amato of the Nightmare desperately The two teams then spent the rest of the period bottling each other up in the nuetral zone and playing sound defensive hockey.
The second period saw the Nightmare spread their lead to three with mid period goal by Chris Risi (1). The Surge made it interesting as Bob Markowick tallied the first Surge goal of the new season, to cut the defecit to just two goals. With a minute to play the Surge Head Coach called off goalie Jon Dawe for an extra attacker, but Dawe was only half way to the bench when a turnover created by Lee Bowers ended up on the stick of Joe Morrotto (1) who deposited it into the vacant goal cage. Sal Amato made 22 saves on 23 shots in the victory.