In Friday night’s biggest moment, Sean Sconone always seemed to make a save. He saved some with his body. He saved others with his stick. At times, they led to outlet passes. At others, they led to something bigger, a deflating feeling that not only had Whipsnakes not scored, but Chrome had the ball on offense, again.
Whipsnakes nightmare repeated consistently on Friday night as Chrome executed the first defensive-minded victory of the Championship series with a 18-14 win on Friday night.
The win sealed the third seed for Chrome, which will face Archers at 7:30 p.m. ET while the bottom-seeded Whipsnakes will play the Atlas at 5:30 ET on Saturday. Both games will air on ESPN+.
Chrome rushed out to a 5-0 lead before Whipsnakes goalie Brian Phipps (13 saves) helped keep his team in the game with a doorstep save, followed later in the game by a split save.
But Phipp’s play couldn’t overshadow another inconsistent performance from the Whipsnakes offense.Chrome often shut down the ‘Whips initial drive to cage. Rather than holding the ball late into possessions looking for another shot, the Whipsnakes frequently shot early and often missed the cage.
Whipsnakes head coach Jim Stagnitta highlighted a phrase his team has often said in prior season on the road to championships, “We want to take the best shot not the first shot.”
On Friday, Stagnitta felt his team took the first shot too often.
“When the sh*t hits the fan we become very individual,” Stagnitta said postgame.
For the first time in the Championship Series, Chrome-Whiipsnakes felt like a defensive battle, at least the closest thing to one that exists in the sixes format. At halftime, neither team had shot higher than 36%. Both goalies had higher than 50% save percentages while Whipsnakes tallied 10 turnovers and didn’t attempt a two-point shot in the first two frames. Only five two-point shots were attempted in the first half combined.
Sconone’s saves piled up in the second half. He made multiple saves per possession at times. On other possessions he made a clear impact as the Whipsnakes aimed shots precisely but wound up missing the net.
“He makes other teams think a little bit more when they’re shooting,” Chrome interim head coach Jacques Monte said.
After starting the tournament 0-2, including blowing a seven-goal lead, to Archers, Chrome finished the Whipsnakes game as consistent as it started. In the second half, Dylan Molloy, normally known for his offensive prowess, threw a heavy body check on a defensive slide. Sconone continued to make saves. Colin Heacock and Logan Wisnauskas each scored in the final five minutes to hold off a late run.
“If you don’t manage it and you’re not dialed in all the time it can get away from you quick,” Monte said.