Rnd 1, Gm 1: Steelers survive ‘pure chaos’

Steeler Ben Ruthven’s one-timer past Whaler goalie Mark Paton was the difference Feb. 14. (Grandview Steelers)

Ben Ruthven scores shorthanded for 1-0 series lead over Whalers

BURNABY WINTER CLUB – They weren’t shot out of a cannon onto home ice – but the Grandview Steelers put forth their toughest performance in months to open the postseason.

Ben Ruthven celebrates his shorthanded marker. (GRA Steelers)

Steeler Ben Ruthven was the difference-maker as he scored the only goal – shorthanded – in a 1-0 nail-biting victory over the White Rock Whalers Feb. 14.

“That first goal was huge. We just carried it for the whole game,” Ruthven said with a smile. “Everything’s a battle. You can’t take one shift off.”

In the first period, after a puck deflected out to centre ice, winger Aidan Teixeira took control. As he came into the offensive zone, the six-foot-four Steeler kept his head up and made a saucer pass past two backchecking Whalers to a hard-skating Ruthven.

His one-timer from the slot blew past Whaler goalie Mark Paton’s pad to send the Burnaby Winter Club faithful into bedlam.

Steeler Northard goes into beast mode

Ruthven’s effort was part of Grandview’s best first period at home for this entire season. That’s not mere hyperbole – I’ve covered every period in the Burnaby Winter Club.

“We put a lot of effort into getting hyped up for the game and [that] definitely helped us out,” Ruthven added.

Steeler Cam Northard. (Alistair Burns / GRA Steelers)

The Steelers outshot the Whalers in the opening frame 15-6. More importantly, Grandview’s defensive corps set the tone for the opposition crossing the blue line. Cam Northard activated beast mode when he laid out Whaler Max Lyons with a solid shoulder check.

Meanwhile, when the Whalers did get close to lighting the lamp, Steeler netminder Ronin Geraghty was sharp. Late in the opening period, he dove into a snow-angel pose and covered the puck as the Whalers crashed the net.

“You don’t want to be in those desperation situations. But you got to do, what you got to do…just trying to get anything in front of that puck,” Geraghty commented.

Lyons almost got the last laugh later in the second period. His snap shot from the slot was batted down; teammate Derek Leroux deked through sticks for a partial breakaway but again Geraghty rose to the occasion.

Rare penalty call leads to gritty stand

The Whalers regained their composure when Steeler Kassius Kler was whistled for an illegal equipment infraction for coming out of the penalty box with his chin straps not done up.

Goalie Ronin Geraghty. (A. Burns / GRA Steelers)

After an outcry from the White Rock bench, Kler sat again for two minutes. With Geraghty out of position in the crease, the Whalers found an open man – but Cam Northard put his body on the line. He slid and blocked the one-timer.

“That’s what playoffs are all about. A lot of guys are sacrificing bodies,” Northard pointed out.

Grandview was able to kill off the penalty. Full credit to the Whalers – undeterred, they caused chaos around Geraghty during the final two minutes. Steeler defenceman Conner Nelles blocked another shot before the final horn.

“It was pure chaos!” Geraghty exclaimed. The blocked shots gave him energy and in return, he felt their extra effort “shows that I have to sacrifice more for them.”

Geraghty (on his back) faces ‘pure chaos’. (GRA Steelers)

Geraghty made all 28 saves for his second career postseason shutout. His counterpart, Paton, was tagged with the loss.

Next game(s)

This best-of-three ‘survivor’ series now moves to White Rock’s Centennial Arena. The Whalers, with home-ice advantage, will host Game 2 on Saturday Feb. 17th at 7:15 p.m.

If necessary, Game 3 would also be in Centennial, Monday Feb. 19th at 3 p.m.

Inside Steeltown post-game interviews

Ronin Geraghty appreciates how often his teammates blocked shots for him.

Ben Ruthven recalls his shorthanded game-winner.

Cam Northard chats about the pressure on defencemen during the postseason.