11 seconds left: Ruthven thrills crowd

Steeler Ben Ruthven (behind net) celebrates after his game-winner Dec. 10. (Grandview Steelers)

Steeler Ben Ruthven. (Alistair Burns / Grandview Steelers)

On teddy bear toss night, Steelers up physical ante against Pt. Moody Panthers

BURNABY WINTER CLUB – After the Steeler faithful threw early Christmas presents onto the ice – via a teddy bear toss – they cheered even louder later that evening on Dec. 10.

Three hours of scrums, chippy plays, and both teams chirping at each other culminated in one decisive play by Grandview veteran Ben Ruthven. His deflection off a Steven Konechny shot from the left face-off circle with 11 seconds left in regulation ensured that the Steelers escaped with a nail-biting 4-3 victory over the Port Moody Panthers.

“I just went to the net. Saw Steve got the puck. He threw it to me and got a lucky deflection,” Ruthven recalled. “Definitely boosts morale. We’ve been on a little bit of a skid recently, so it’s good to end that and get back on the winning train.”

With the win, the fifth-place Steelers put some breathing room – four points – between themselves and the sixth-place Panthers in the seven-team Tom Shaw Conference. At press time, Grandview was one game higher than .500, with a record of 14 wins, 13 losses and two shootout losses for a total of 30 points.

Steeler Steven Konechny gets into the Christmas spirit. (Grandview Steelers)

The man that brought Christmas early

Meanwhile, Konechny’s goal in the first period fulfilled an early Christmas wish for the Steelers. Dec. 10 was also Grandview’s 13th annual teddy bear toss night.

Fans threw numerous teddy bears and other stuffed animals as the Care Bear Countdown and the Winnie The Pooh theme played in the background. The mini-Poohs and Paddingtons were picked up by the Steelers and donated to the Burnaby Christmas Bureau.

Konechny, 19, thought the entire experience was “pretty cool” as he finished off a “sweet pass” from Aidan Teixeira.

Grandview captain Gabe Adam also fired up his teammates as he flattened Panther Dawson Toledo with a massive shoulder check. Tempers flared on both benches after Panther Matthew Kim was assessed a five-minute major for checking from behind and an automatic game misconduct.

Incoming! Teddy bears and stuffed animals fly through the air over the Pt. Moody bench Dec. 10. (Grandview Steelers)

On the ensuing power play, Konechny put home his second of the night to tie the game at 2-2.

“Ben and Tex are awesome. They help me a lot out there,” Konechny added. After Panther Marcus Lindholm put his away side ahead at 3-2, Grandview’s Teixeira scored off a rebound in the slot on another man advantage before Ruthven’s game-winner.

In goal, Steeler Shayan Kermany held his ground and made a breakaway save on Panther Austin Todd. Kermany faced 21 shots and improved his record to four wins and eight losses.

Overall, the Steelers protected the slot far better in the third period, as Port Moody only mustered three shots in the final 20 minutes.

Inside Steeltown post-game interview

Ben Ruthven praises his linemates Aidan Teixeira and Steven Konechny.