18w, 4dCompleted Story Compendium
Equestria Hockey League Part XIII – Quarterfinals: Game 1
Playoffs fever swept through Ponyville like a voracious hurricane. Golden Leafs decorations and ornaments adorned nearly every house and shop. The streets were lined with blue banners and gold lighting. Ponyville Pond was the place to be during the week as Ponyvillians lined up at the box office daily to purchase their playoffs tickets.
While there was great excitement and buzz outside Ponyville Pond, there was great focus and determination inside the arena as the Golden Leafs practiced for their first game. On one end of the rink, the starters, led by Twilight, ran through some new forechecking drills. Twilight theorized that the Golden Leafs can pressure the Rangers into giving up more turnovers in their own end. More turnovers would then lead to more scoring opportunities for the forwards. On the other side of the rink, the Golden Leafs’ latest acquisitions, Big Macintosh and Spike, brushed up on certain sections the team’s strategy guide. Twilight gave Mac the penalty killing chapter and Spike the general offense and defense chapters. Sweetie Belle was in net while the magical practice dummies took shots on her.
During the study session, Spike nudged Big Mac to get his attention.
“Psst, hey Big Mac, I have an idea!”
Big Mac looked up from his pages at Spike. “And what’s that, Spike?”
“You know, since we’re special skaters for the playoffs, how about we give ourselves a cool nickname? I was thinking something along the lines of ‘The Sparkplugs’ or ‘Two Smooth Dudes’.”
“I reckon that would be mighty nice. How’s about the ‘Black Aces’? Try that one on fer size.”
Spike paused to mull the suggestion over. “You know, that’s not bad! It’s edgy, mysterious, just like us!”
“Awesome! How about we toss these books and get to playing, huh?”
Just like that, Spike and Mac threw their guides aside and replaced two of the dummies in the play in their end. On the other side, Twilight demonstrated to the girls what she learned through her studies on forechecking. The drill involved more magical moving dummies carrying the puck out from behind Pinkie and the Golden Leafs applying pressure to try to steal away the puck before the dummies get to center ice. Rainbow and Applejack excelled at the drill because of their speed and strength respectively. Rainbow harassed the puck handling dummy while Applejack came in hard on the dummy that received the pass from Rainbow’s dummy. Rarity tried the drill but was found to be out of position too often as the dummies passed right by her.
After going through the forechecking drill a good number of times, Twilight called everyone together at center ice.
“Okay everypony! For the rest of practice, we’re going to have a little fun by having a shootout. Sweetie Belle, you’ll swap in for Pinkie every other shooter since Pinkie’s knee is still a little sore. As for the others, the order will go: Applejack, Big Macintosh, Rarity, Fluttershy, Spike, me, then Rainbow Dash. Sound good?”
“NO!” cried a voice from the entrance to the rink. Surprised, everyone turned around the face the direction of the voice. Emerging from the shadows were the Manehattan Rangers. One by one, they stepped onto the ice and slowly skated toward the Golden Leafs. Having the advantage in the numbers game, Twilight confidently skated around her group to face the Rangers head on. The Rangers kept a good distance away from the Golden Leafs. They quietly parted in the middle, revealing a bitter, reserved Trixie. Trixie looked around the arena carefully to make sure there wasn’t an EHL camera watching her every move. She then skated up to Twilight, looking Twilight straight in the eye and clenching her teeth.
“We would like to practice now, please.”
Twilight basked in the presence of the disgruntled Trixie and smugly replied. “No. You will have this risk when we say you can!”
The Golden Leafs all flashed arrogant grins as Trixie looked down to the ice with irritation. The Rangers began to turn toward the exit. “Alright then. We’ll wait.”
Rainbow skated up to Twilight and whispered in her ear. “You know Twilight, maybe we should end practice now. We don’t want to show them anything we’ve been working on.”
Twilight’s heart wanted to stick it to the Rangers and make them wait for their practice time, but her brain took over and convinced her that Rainbow was right. Twilight sighed and spoke back up to Trixie.
“Fine, you can practice now. You’re just lucky we’re feeling generous today.”
The Rangers quickly turned back around and Trixie looked up with a begrudging frown. “Thanks, losers.”
Twilight directed the Golden Leafs toward the locker room. Before stepping off the ice, Twilight turned back toward Trixie and her crew. “And don’t forget Trixie. Don’t do something you’ll regret. You never know when the EHL is watching!”
Twilight laughed as she finally departed. Frustrated that she couldn’t do anything, Trixie angrily slammed her stick on the ice.
Game day arrived in the blink of an eye and the Golden Leafs couldn’t have been more excited. Each pony woke up early because their anticipation wouldn’t allow them to sleep soundly. Ponyville was excited too as nearly every denizen was wearing a Golden Leafs jersey throughout the day while going about their business. Twilight called her team together to the treehouse a couple hours before it was time to go to the arena. Everyone was jittery and couldn’t sit still as anxiety bubbled inside them. Time was becoming a cruel temptress, slowly slouching forward. Unable to take the waiting any longer, the Golden Leafs decided to head for Ponyville Pond.
As the Golden Leafs walked closer toward Ponyville Pond, they were met by playoffs fever. The streets were lined with jam-packed merchandise booths. Various smells of delicious foods swirled about the cold air. Loud rock music was booming and grew louder closer to the arena. An army of rowdy Golden Leafs fans milled about, visiting the assortment of booths while waiting for the doors to open. Twilight and company were overwhelmed by the scene which piqued their excitement even more. They proudly galloped toward the players’ entrance before they could be spotted by their horde of fans.
In the now less spacious locker room, the Golden Leafs got dressed at their respective stalls. Big Mac, Spike, and Sweetie Belle each had a makeshift locker, a chair with their gear on it. When fully dressed with plenty of time left before hitting the ice, each player was either fidgeting in their stall or pacing the floor. Twilight wrapped her mind around what she was going to say for the usual pre-game pep talk.
“Okay team. Tonight is the night that begins a whole new season. Everything we’ve learned in the regular season will all come together now. The team in that other locker room is going to want to win just as badly as we want to. We can’t just match their intensity, we have to exceed it. If they hit us, we hit back harder. If they skate fast, we skate faster. If they play smart, we play smarter. I know we have the talent and the teamwork to succeed. Now, we’re going to treat each series like a war, and each game a battle. Tonight’s our first battle. Tonight is when we trot out onto the battlefield. We can land the first punch. Our fans are going to be fired up, rocking, and ready to go. They’re going to be in the trenches with us, for better or for worse. We’re going to do whatever we can to win not for ourselves, but for each other! Now, I’m ready to fight but I’m going to need confirmation from you all. Are you ready to fight, Applejack?”
“Ah’m ready to fight, Twilight!”
“Are you ready to fight, Rainbow Dash?”
“I’M READY, TWILIGHT!”
“Are you ready to fight, Rarity?”
“Bring. It. On!”
“Are you ready to fight, Fluttershy?”
“Let’s do this!”
“Are you ready to fight, Pinkie Pie?”
“GOLDEN LEAFS, ARE WE READY TO FIGHT?!?”
“WE’RE READY TO FIGHT!”
All together, the Golden Leafs leapt up from their stalls and huddled together in the center of the room. They all began to quietly mutter “Leafs…Leafs…Leafs” while clanging their skates together. Their muttering turned into chanting, becoming louder and faster. “Leafs…Leafs…Leafs! Leafs! LEAFS! LEAFS! LEAFS! YEEEEEAAAAHHHHH!”
Twilight broke from the huddle to trot to the doors. With a forceful push, Twilight blasted the doors open to the hallway with a yell. “LET’S GOOOOOOOO!”
Her teammates responded with raucous howling while fiercely marching out of the locker room. The Golden Leafs’ yells and growls continued during their trek toward the rink as the crowd’s cheering was becoming more audible. Twilight’s team reached the light at the end of the hallway and took a step over the threshold. Awaiting them was an endless sea of royal blue wrapped around the bleachers. Every pony in the stands was covered from head to hoof in blue and they pumped blue pom-poms. It was an intimidating “Blue Out” orchestrated by the fans. With each second of the pre-game countdown clock ticking away, the noise level raised another decibel. When the clock reached zero, the lights went out and an eruption of cheers rang out to the rafters.
A single spotlight shone over the Rangers’ doorway. Suddenly, the voice of Mr. Cake (taking over announcing duties for Spike) came over the speakers.
”Fillies and gentlecolts, welcome to game one of the quarterfinals of the CELESTIA CUP PLAYOFFS! First, a warm welcome for the Manehattan Rangers!”
”At left wing, number 10, Lyra. At center, number 15, Octavia. On right wing, number 66, Vinyl Scratch. On defense, number 20, Bon Bon. Also on defense, the captain, number 4, Trixie.”
”And starting in net, number 32, Doctor Whooves.
The spotlight flicked off as the Rangers skated around their end of the ice as a magical fog began to roll in over the Ponyville side. A video projected onto the fog, depicting the many highlights of the Golden Leafs’ regular season. The crowd erupted with cheers when they saw Rainbow’s time-expiring goal against Fillydelphia, Applejack’s fight with Braeburn in Appleloosa, and Fluttershy’s monster check on Gilda from the home opener. The highlight reel ended with Rainbow mixing it up with Caramelo and Applejack’s spearing of Rose to ignite the Fillydelphia brawl, resulting in the roof almost blowing off from the crowd’s yelling. The fog dissipated and spotlights began to roam around the ice. The opening riff to “Thunderstruck” by NeighC/DC echoed out as Mr. Cake resumed his announcing.
”And now, it’s time to introduce your PONYVIIIIILLE GOOOOLDEN LEAFS!! Starting at left wing, number 9, RARITYYY! At center, number 20, RAAAAAINBOW DAAASH! At right wing, number 88, APPLEEEEJAAACK! On defense, number 0, FLUTTERRRRSHYYYY! And number 42, THE CAPTAIN, TWILIIIIIIGHT SPAAARRRKLEEEE! Starting in net, the goalie, number 33, PINKIEEEEE PIIIIIEEEE!!
The Golden Leafs’ starters hit the ice running and skated swiftly around the end of the ice while the fans sustained their explosive cheering. Big Mac, Spike, and Sweetie Belle found their way to the bench to sit while the Rangers’ playoff roster newcomers, Blues and Orange Jr., made it to their bench. The lights came back up and the referees came out onto the ice. After another minute of skating, it was time for the teams to line up for the opening faceoff. The referee held the puck at the center dot while Rainbow and Octavia leaned forward to get ready. After a quick check with Dr. Whooves and Pinkie Pie, the referee slammed the puck down and game one of the Celestia Cup Playoff Quarterfinals was underway in Ponyville.
With the “GO LEAFS GO” chant reverberating overhead, Rainbow won the faceoff and Ponyville started their offense. The offense was slow to move the puck around and was pressured by the Rangers’ defense the entire way. The Golden Leafs tried to get an open lane to the net but were smothered by the Manehattan pressure. After a few broken passes, Manehattan controlled the puck and took it down the ice. Back in their defensive end, the Golden Leafs played a little bit of a zone defense. This opened up the ice for the Rangers to move and pass the puck. Bon Bon held the puck at the point with Rainbow coming up quick on her. Losing time to make a play, Bon Bon frantically passed over to Octavia along the boards. Rarity and Twilight converged on Octavia to get the puck. Octavia held the defense off as she looked for an outlet to pass to. With the puck held up along the boards, Lyra skated up toward the blue line and away from Fluttershy, cruising down the center and slapping her stick. Octavia whipped the pass between her legs right onto Lyra’s stick near the front of the crease. Before Fluttershy could get in on the play, Lyra instantly flicked the puck in the top corner, right above Pinkie’s blocker. The puck hit the net and the goal light flashed, hushing the Ponyville crowd.
”Manehattan goal scored by number 10, Lyra. Assisted by number 15, Octavia, and number 20, Bon Bon.
The Rangers finished up their celebration and headed for the center circle where the Golden Leafs were already waiting. Ponyville started out a bit sluggish and awestruck despite the rousing pre-game speech. Play was back on with seven minutes left in the first period. Manehattan won the draw and the Rangers were back in the Ponyville end. Twilight told the team to kick up the pressure on defense and not allow so many passes. The adjustment worked as the Golden Leafs held the Rangers to only one shot and soon had the puck back on offense. In the Rangers’ end, Rainbow tried to work her way to the crease but was shut off by Trixie. Rainbow and the rest of the Golden Leafs moved the puck better but were only able to fire off two shots, both of which were stopped by Dr. Whooves.
With three minutes now remaining in the first period, Manehattan forced a Ponyville turnover and took the puck back. Rainbow and Applejack stayed in the zone to forecheck and Rainbow was able to catch Octavia off guard. Octavia forced a pass out toward center ice that was stolen by Applejack. Rainbow skated hard to get back onside and came in on the rush. Applejack faked the pass to Rainbow and ripped a shot on Dr. Whooves. The puck zinged right by his glove but it just grazed the post, ricocheting the puck off to the corner. A large “awww” rumbled out from the crowd as Manehattan had the puck again.
Vinyl Scratch dumped the puck to the corner and rushed after it herself. Fluttershy came over to claim the puck but Scratch closed in hard, pushing Fluttershy to the glass. Applejack was coming over to help but Scratch squeezed out from the corner with the puck. She skated through Fluttershy and Applejack while Trixie shifted to the center of the blue line. Seeing Trixie open, Scratch pushed the puck to her and skated through Pinkie’s crease. Trixie fired a shot on net before Rainbow could dive to block it. Pinkie was mixed up from the screen and didn’t see the puck until it was sailing right next to her shoulder and into the net. Another large groan rung out from the Ponyvillians as Trixie slid on one knee in celebration, pretending her stick was a rifle and “shooting” down the Golden Leafs’ defense. Twilight and friends took exception to Trixie’s celebration and skated over to the Rangers’ huddle. The referees came over to separate the two teams and to set them up for the faceoff.
”Manehattan goal, scored by number 4, Trixie. Assisted by number 66, Vinyl Scratch.”
The rest of period included a flurry of desperate offense from the Golden Leafs but they could not crack the Rangers’ goalie. When the period ending horn struck, the Golden Leafs were given a small, quiet round of applause to help encourage them before heading off to the locker room.
In the locker room, the Golden Leafs were just as jumpy and jittery as they were before the game. To get her team to calm down and loosen up, Twilight had Pinkie bring in the record player and start dancing. At first the team was confused but they loosened up and danced as well. Rainbow and Applejack resisted but eventually they gave in and soon the whole locker room was calmed down. Twilight stood in front of her team to give them instructions for the next period.
“Alright, now that we shook the butterflies out of our stomachs, let’s get back to basics. That was a slow period. We got too caught up in the atmosphere and the hype. So this period, we’re going to go back to what’s worked for us against the Rangers in the past: hitting. Let’s pound some Rangers to the ice and get the crowd back into the game!”
The Golden Leafs accepted Twilight’s adjustment idea and marched toward the ice for the second period.
Facing a 2-0 deficit heading into the second period, the Golden Leafs refocused and were set to resume play. When the period resumed, their hitting mission began without a hitch. The Golden Leafs scrapped for every loose puck and were smashing Rangers into the boards nearly every second. Even Fluttershy and Rarity contributed with big checks on the Rangers’ forwards. With each hit, the crowd perked back up a little bit. Even though they were more physical, the Golden Leafs still weren’t able to generate any offense. Manehattan had the puck in the Ponyville end and were looking to add to their lead. Vinyl Scratch held the puck on the right wing boards. Applejack saw Scratch was vulnerable and came in for the check. Just as Scratch gave up the puck, Applejack led with her foreleg knee and drilled the Rangers’ winger into the glass. The crowd let out a cheer but it quickly turned into booing as the referee lifted his hoof for the penalty.
“Ponyville number 88, two minutes for roughing.”
Applejack sadly drifted over to the penalty box and took her seat. Needing a huge penalty kill, Twilight had Big Macintosh swap in for Rarity for a bigger body and more aggressiveness. The puck dropped to the left of Pinkie and the Rangers’ power play began. Twilight, Fluttershy, and Big Mac stayed in a box formation while Rainbow attempted to pressure the puck. The Rangers stayed along the perimeter, trying to pass their way to an open shot. The Golden Leafs shifted with each pass as Rainbow buzzed around. Finally, Rainbow’s pressure forced a Rangers giveaway and she dumped it down to the other end. When the Rangers came back into the Ponyville zone, Big Mac caught Lyra in his crosshairs and laid out a big hit along the boards. He then fought off Octavia and Bon Bon to carry the puck deep into the Manehattan end. With only forty seconds left in the Rangers power play, Big Mac was followed into the corner. He bolted himself down, keeping the puck between his skates and the boards so the Rangers couldn’t get to it. The crowd’s cheers grew louder as Big Mac was able to hold the puck for the entire forty seconds, killing the penalty with his immovable solidity.
Applejack was back on the ice to cheers as the momentum was very gradually creeping back to Ponyville’s side. Big Macintosh was given a nice round of applause for his effort on the penalty kill as Rarity stepped back out onto the ice for offense. Rainbow had the puck behind the net and saw Rarity coming into the zone from the bench. Rainbow tried to peel off toward the left wing boards to pass to Rarity but was dragged down by Bon Bon’s stick. Immediately the referee raised his hoof and blew the whistle when Dr. Whooves held onto a save. The arena was getting louder as Bon Bon made her way to the penalty box. Twilight grouped up her power play unit to go over their plan.
Rainbow won the faceoff back to Fluttershy as both the Rangers and Golden Leafs assumed their positions in the zone. Fluttershy passed over to Twilight who gave it to Rarity on the left boards. Rarity passed back to Twilight as Rainbow zigged and zagged in and out of the crease and slot to get open. Rainbow finally got open off near the right faceoff circle which Twilight zinged a pass over. The Rangers closed in quickly so Rainbow passed right back to Twilight as Rarity cut in front of her. Twilight one-timed the puck over to Rarity who was now squared up straight with the net between her and Fluttershy. Rarity picked a spot and rifled the puck on net. Dr. Whooves lifted his glove hoof up but it was no use. The goal horn rung out and the Golden Leafs were finally on the board. Rarity was engulfed by her teammates and the arena was rocking once more.
”Ponyville POWER PLAY GOOOOAL! Scored by number 9, RAAAARITY! Assisted by number 42, TWILIGHT SPARKLE! And number 20, RAINBOW DASH!”
The blue pom-poms were pumping again as the teams came together for the faceoff. Rainbow won the draw with only a minute left in the period. Twilight passed to Rarity who dumped it in for Applejack. Applejack got to the corner and quickly pushed the puck along to Fluttershy who came up on the boards to take the pass. Fluttershy passed to Twilight who quickly passed it over to Rarity. Rainbow cut in front of the crease through the Rangers’ defense to screen the goalie. Rarity fired off the shot but it came onto Rainbow’s stick. Bon Bon and Trixie sandwiched Rainbow before she could put it on net. With the puck lying at Rainbow’s skates, Applejack hustled to come up behind and shoot the puck. Ponyville Pond stood up to watch as the puck clanged off the post again and came to the Rangers. They iced the puck down to Pinkie as the second period came to a close.
The Manehattan lead was cut down to one goal and the Golden Leafs faithful were on their hooves and revved up. Momentum was swinging back Ponyville’s way as they went off to the locker room with their confidence recharged.
Ponyville’s mood was much more improved as they felt they were on the verge of taking the game back over. Twilight was back in front of her squad with new instructions.
Spike cleared his throat loudly to interrupt Twilight.
“…and Spike. We’re almost back in this game! Now, let’s keep up the hitting and let’s take our forechecking up a notch. Rainbow, Applejack, can you apply some pressure?”
Applejack stood up, “Sure can do, Twi!”
“Aww yeah, you bet!” exclaimed Rainbow as she saluted then gave Applejack a hoof bump.
“Good, now, let’s also fire off as many shots as we can. Doctor Whooves isn’t entirely battle tested so let’s give him everything we’ve got! More shots mean more rebounds and more opportunities. Let’s tie this game up then take the lead! Hooves in, pressure on three.”
Both teams hit the ice and the atmosphere was electric as the third period was about to start. The Golden Leafs and Rangers were ready to start up their battle again, setting up for the faceoff with serious demeanors all around. The referee skated in and dropped the puck for the final period.
Rainbow won the faceoff and the Golden Leafs brought the puck in. They fended off the Rangers and tried shooting whenever they had a chance. Most of the shots missed or hit off a defender, but Doctor Whooves made a couple good saves as well. The faceoff was to the left of the Rangers’ goalie which Rainbow won again. Fluttershy had the puck and was being targeted by a charging Octavia. Startled by Octavia’s rush, Fluttershy tensed up and gave up the puck. Before Octavia could burst off to a breakaway, Fluttershy desperately stuck her stick out to drag Octavia down. The referee raised his hoof as Twilight came over to touch the puck to stop play. Fluttershy skated off to the penalty box embarrassed by her giveaway and penalty. Big Macintosh came back on the ice for Rarity to help kill off another penalty.
“Ponyville, number 0, two minutes for hooking.”
With the faceoff deep in the Ponyville end, Rainbow continued her faceoff dominance and won the puck to Twilight who fired the puck down to the Rangers’ end. Rainbow and Applejack skated up to apply some pressure while Big Mac and Twilight stayed home. Trixie retrieved the puck and carried it up the middle. Applejack came up to apply pressure while Rainbow tried spying and determining which passing lane Trixie would go to. Vinyl Scratch came back up in front of the Ponyville bench to give Trixie an outlet. Rainbow saw Scratch out of the corner of her eye and blazed over. Trixie saw Scratch open and fired it toward her just before Applejack delivered a hard, open ice check. With the puck coming in faster than expected, Rainbow leapt at Scratch for a giant hit before the puck got to them. The referee’s hoof flew up into the air and the crowd erupted with boos. Twilight touched the puck again to stop play. Rainbow got into the referee’s face to protest the call but was escorted over to the penalty box.
“Ponyville, number 20, two minutes for interference.”
The crowd booed the referee’s announcement as Rainbow whacked her stick on the glass in front of her, scaring Fluttershy. The Golden Leafs were now facing a daunting 5-on-3 penalty kill. Twilight, Big Mac, and Applejack were the only ones left on the ice to take on the tall task. The crowd went back to cheering their penalty kill unit on as play resumed. Big Mac took the faceoff due to his previous experience back in the day. Octavia won the draw and the Rangers set up their play. The Golden Leafs set up in a triangle in front of Pinkie, with Twilight and Big Mac on the back two points and Applejack up front. 1:34 remained in Fluttershy’s original penalty as the Rangers passed all around the perimeter to set up a shot. The Golden Leafs stayed tight to their triangle, making sure not to screen Pinkie. Trixie had the puck at the point and reared back for a shot. Applejack dropped to a knee in Trixie’s path, forcing Trixie to pull back and pass off. The puck went over to Scratch at the right boards where she was met by Big Mac much to her surprise. Big Mac forced Scratch against the boards and furiously poked and prodded at the puck. Octavia and Bon Bon came in to help as well as Applejack. Five skaters were in a large scrum at the boards fighting for the puck while Fluttershy’s penalty was down to thirty seconds. Applejack was able to finally poke the puck free but it wrapped around the boards behind Pinkie. Twilight and Lyra were in a race to get to the puck which Twilight won. Trixie skated up from the point to cut down the angle on Twilight, but Twilight was able to flip the puck all the way down to Manehattan’s end.
The final ten seconds of Fluttershy’s penalty melted away and she jumped back onto the ice to a tremendous cheer from the crowd. Rainbow’s penalty only had thirty seconds left on it as the Rangers regrouped for a power play push. The Golden Leafs’ formation went back to the usual box with Big Mac joining Applejack in the front line and Fluttershy next to Twilight. Bon Bon shot the puck into the corner for Scratch. Fluttershy came over to challenge her but Octavia swooped by to take the puck. Ten seconds left in Rainbow’s penalty as the arena was ready to erupt. Octavia passed to Trixie at the point who rapidly fired a shot. Pinkie saw the shot all the way and kicked it away for a big save. Twilight rushed to the corner while Dr. Whooves slammed his stick on the ice to inform his team of the expiring penalty. With Rainbow’s penalty reaching 0:00, the arena hit deafening levels. Twilight fired the puck toward the penalty box. The Rangers were slow to react and Rainbow stepped onto the ice to pick up the puck for a breakaway. Everyone jumped to their hooves to watch as Rainbow closed in on the Manehattan goalie. Rainbow deked once, twice, then backhanded it to Whooves’ glove side. The puck just missed and flew over the crossbar, inciting a loud groan from the crowd. Trixie raced back and picked up the puck, but Rainbow stayed with her rebound. With Rainbow pushing upon her, Trixie anxiously flung the puck upward. The puck sailed over the glass just before the blue line. The crowd cheered again as the referee came over to take Trixie off to the penalty box.
“What? What are you doing? I didn’t do anything!!”
“Manehattan, number 4, two minutes for delay of game.”
Trixie continued her protest even after the penalty box door slammed on her. Golden Leafs fans were screaming their lungs out as the Golden Leafs were about to embark on their second power play with only three minutes left in regulation. Rarity came back on for Big Mac as Twilight gathered her team to talk about the advantage. The referee called the teams over for the faceoff to the left of Dr. Whooves. This time Octavia won the faceoff to Bon Bon who fired it down to Pinkie.
Pinkie skated up to pass the puck back up to Applejack who carried it into the zone. Applejack continued down the right boards with it and passed it back to Fluttershy at the blue line. Fluttershy passed back to Applejack who then pushed it behind the net to Rainbow. Rainbow stalled as Bon Bon came in to challenge her. Rainbow skated forward to pass it to Twilight at the point. Twilight looked for a shooting lane but it was clogged with Rangers. Twilight shuffled the puck over to Fluttershy but she didn’t have an open lane either. Rarity was engaged in a position battle with Lyra at the left faceoff circle and called for the puck. Fluttershy flung the puck to Rarity. Lyra came around to poke at the puck but Rarity used her backside to keep Lyra away. Twilight moved toward the center and wanted the puck. Rarity skipped the puck over to Twilight. Thirty seconds remained in the power play as Twilight passed over to Fluttershy as she couldn’t shoot again. Rarity broke free again and Fluttershy spotted her for the pass. Applejack crashed to the crease as Rarity spun around and ripped off a shot. Rarity’s shot was way off target but Applejack stretched her neck out to try to tip the shot back in on net. The puck grazed Applejack’s stick blade and snuck in between the post and Whooves’ pad. The puck rattled around the net and in one synchronized motion, the sea of blue all jumped into the air with a piercing yell. Applejack was mobbed by her teammates and Trixie angrily stormed out of the penalty box, yelling at her team.
”PONYVILLE POOOOWER PLAY GOOOOAL! Scored by number 88, APPLEEEJAAACK! Assisted by number 9, RARITY! And number 0, FLUTTERSHYYYY!”
Ponyville Pond was rocking again now that the game was deadlocked at 2-2. Only a minute remained in regulation as both teams wanted to put the game away for good. Rainbow won the draw and led the rush into the Manehattan zone with the crowd cheering them on. The Golden Leafs couldn’t get a shot off and back came the Rangers. Manehattan tried to run a play but it was broken up by Twilight. The puck pinballed back and forth in the neutral zone as time ticked all the way down to 0:00.
Golden Leafs fans were going bonkers as their team valiantly fought back to force overtime. Twilight’s crew proudly trotted off the ice to prepare for the overtime session.
Nervous energy mixed with adrenaline coursed through the Golden Leafs’ veins as they refreshed for overtime. Twilight reminded everyone that overtime was a full period and sudden death. Luckily, they were in a good share of close games throughout the regular season so inexperience wasn’t a disadvantage. No pep talk was needed as the girls, Big Mac, and Spike all understood what was needed to be done. The Golden Leafs marched out of the locker room with their heads held high and their anxiousness growing. They were greeted with a hero’s welcome from the crowd when they emerged back out on the ice. Manehattan made their way back to the ice as well, angrily skating around their side with booing and heckling pouring down upon them. The intermission clock struck zero and the horn sounded for the start of overtime. Every pony remained standing as the potential final period was about to start.
The puck dropped and Octavia and Rainbow fought for the puck at the center dot. The puck finally squirted loose to Manehattan and they came down to start their offense. The Golden Leafs played the Rangers tight and begun checking hard right away. Each hit was met with a raucous cheer of approval by the crowd as Manehattan struggled to fire a shot away. Twilight had the puck and was ready to carry it down the ice. Twilight looked up to pass but saw that the Rangers were forechecking hard in the neutral zone. Twilight was distracted for a bit, prompting Octavia to rush in hard on her. Twilight scrambled to pass, whiffing on the puck. Octavia scooped up the puck and quickly entered the Ponyville zone. Twilight hustled back to chase Octavia down and stuck her stick out to get the puck. Octavia’s skate caught Twilight’s blade and she tumbled down to the ice. A large gasp rang out to the rafters as the referee signaled another penalty. Twilight got up from the ice and was about to cry because of the predicament she was putting her team in.
“Ponyville, number 42, two minutes for tripping.”
Applejack and Rainbow skated by the penalty box to encourage their friend.
“Don’t worry, Twi. We’re gonna kill this penalty off lickety split!”
“It’ll be okay. We’ll pick you up and get you back out here!”
Twilight smiled slightly as the door closed on her. “Thanks, girls.”
Rarity went over to the bench for Big Macintosh while Rainbow and Applejack huddled the team together. The crowd perked back up to rally on the penalty kill unit. Rainbow settled down at the faceoff dot to Pinkie’s left and Octavia came in to meet her. The referee stalled before dropping the puck which was quickly taken by Octavia. Trixie took control as the Rangers set up their power play formation. Rainbow and Applejack nodded to each other and immediately rushed toward Trixie. Trixie let out a gasp when she saw the two Leafs rumbling toward her. She fumbled the puck and finally passed it away. The puck flew right past Lyra’s stick and onto Big Mac’s. Instead of flinging the puck down the rink, Big Mac saw Rainbow breaking for the blue line and he landed a beautiful pass to her. Trixie and Bon Bon were already retreating back on defense as Rainbow grabbed the puck just past the blue line.
Rainbow was ready to take both Rangers head on as she glided toward the center dot. Trixie was now flank to flank on Rainbow’s left, leaning in to try to take the puck back. Rainbow quickly held up and moved the puck between Trixie’s legs toward the center. The move made Trixie lose her stick but she stayed with Rainbow. Slowly rising to their hooves were the anxious fans as the play unfolded before them. Rainbow was now directly in front of Whooves with space quickly running out. Trixie motored in from Rainbow’s left to try and knock her off balance. Rainbow saw Trixie and brilliantly pushed the puck over to the right, hesitating to let Trixie fly right by her. Rainbow was now all alone as she closed in on net. Dr. Whooves began to dive for a poke check while Rainbow shifted back left with the puck on her backhand. Rainbow ripped the shot while the arena held its breath. The puck floated right over Dr. Whooves’ sprawled out body and into the back of the net!
Ponyville Pond exploded with a giant blast of cheers and ecstasy. Rainbow threw herself into the glass and was immediately smothered by all the Golden Leafs in the corner. The goal horn bellowed out, fireworks popped overhead, and blue pom-poms littered the ice.
”PONYVILLE GAME WINNING SHORTHOOFED GOAL SCORED BY NUMBER 20, RAAAAAAAINBOOOOOW DAAAAASH!”
Devastated and upset, the Rangers quickly shuffled off the ice and into their locker room. The Golden Leafs pony pile broke apart and happily drifted across the ice to deafening cheers from their loyal fans. Helmets and sticks tossed and scattered all over the rink were picked up by the Golden Leafs on their way to the locker room. Rainbow and her teammates waved to the fans before stepping off and trotting away from the ongoing celebration.
The partying and merriment spilled over into the locker room as the Golden Leafs undressed with big smiles all around. Pinkie brought out the usual party equipment for the team after they finished cleaning up. The Golden Leafs laughed and partied late into the evening with Rainbow as the pony of the hour. When it was finally time to go home, Twilight addressed her team once more.
“What an amazing game everypony! We’ll enjoy this win tonight. Seize this moment and remember it because we want to feel this again a couple more times. Enjoy the win tonight and let’s get back to business in a few days when we practice before heading off to Manehattan for game two. We fought hard and we never gave up! We believed in each other and we drew strength from that belief. Everyone did their part tonight and it was amazing. Good work, enjoy tonight, and we’ll get back to business soon to FINISH OFF THE RANGERS!”
“Yeah!” responded the others.
Twilight and friends’ first ever playoff game could not have ended any better. They endured a sluggish start and overcame an early deficit to send the crowd home happy. Even though the first battle was won, the war was yet to be over. The Golden Leafs will have to refocus and prepare once again to hopefully deliver the killshot to Manehattan’s season. Home ice was defended as winning on the road will prove to be difficult. It is up to Twilight and friends to press onward, using their friendship and teamwork to ascend to the next round.
To Be Continued
Three stars from Manehattan @ Ponyville
* Rainbow Dash (PGL)
** Rarity (PGL)
*** The Great and Powerful Trixie (MHN)
Other Scores Around the EHL (Home Team in CAPS)
CANTERLOT 4, Fillydelphia 1 (Canterlot leads 1-0)
(3) Canterlot vs. (6) Fillydelphia
(CTL leads 1-0)
Game 1: CANTERLOT 4, Fillydelphia 1
Game 2: @ Fillydelphia
Game 3 (if nec.): @ Canterlot
(4) Ponyville vs. (5) Manehattan
(PGL leads 1-0)
Game 1: PONYVILLE 3, Manehattan 2 (OT)
Game 2: @ Manehattan
Game 3 (if nec.): @ Ponyville