18w, 5dCompleted Story Compendium
Equestria Hockey League Part III – Inaugural Debut
Giant buildings shadowing every inch of the ground. Crowded streets teeming with rushing carts and carriages. Delicious smells of various shops filling the daytime air. This was Manehattan, the site of the Ponyville Golden Leafs’ first EHL game that evening. Twilight Sparkle and her team of rag-tag ponies all looked up, down, and around, admiring their urban surrounding with great wonder. Of the ponies, Rarity was the one most excited by the atmosphere, squealing and gushing over every high-class fashion boutique they passed. Pinkie Pie hopped with an extra spring in her step towards the many bakeries and eateries down the main street. Spike rode along as Twilight Sparkle’s brain rushed with flowing questions and curiosity as she encountered things she had never seen before: traffic posts, street performers, and giant billboards. Rainbow Dash found herself feeling comfortable and at peace among the hustle and bustle of the streets around her. Fluttershy quietly stuck close to her friends, not too amused by the overwhelming activity; that was until they later arrived at Central Park, home to over thousands of nature’s creatures. Finally, Applejack trotted along with the group slowly, feeling a twinge of nervousness towards the city life currently surrounding her. The Ponyville Golden Leafs explored Manehattan and saw its many sights as the time drew closer to their first game.
Twilight and friends walked a few blocks towards the arena. Turning the corner, the ponies stopped dead in their tracks. Ominously towering before them was the famed Maredison Square Garden, showered in bright spotlights held by hovering pegasi while lines of ponies on the ground filed inside. A tidal wave of anxiousness and trepidation washed over the Golden Leafs as they stared down their center stage for the evening. Twilight shook her head to break her stare and led her friends toward the team entrance.
Once inside, the Golden Leafs began to feel their nervousness creeping ever closer as they trotted through the many twists and turns of the hallway leading toward their locker room. With the locker room entrance in sight, Twilight suddenly heard a familiar voice cackling down another hallway. Intrigued, Twilight and company followed the voice until they arrived at a small lobby. There, loosening up and kicking a ball around the corridor were the Manehattan Rangers. From left to right, the Golden Leafs locked eyes with their opponents: Lyra, Octavia, Vinyl Scratch, Sapphire Shores, and the owner of the voice they had heard, The Great and Powerful Trixie.
The Rangers abruptly stopped their ritual when they noticed the Golden Leafs entering the room. One by one, an arrogant smirk emerged on the Rangers’ faces. With a playful chuckle, Trixie sauntered toward Twilight.
“Well, well, well. Look who we have here, Rangers. It appears that the intermission entertainment has arrived,” Trixie said smugly. Each Ranger let out a sinister laugh as Trixie continued.
“I didn’t know the EHL gave out teams to just everypony. What do you losers want?”
Rainbow Dash quickly flew up to Trixie and growled in her face. Twilight restrained her with magic. Rainbow struggled to break free from Twilight’s hold. “Let me go! Let me at her!” But Twilight kept her bound tight. She approached Trixie with a strong step.
“We’re here to play hockey and to kick your self-righteous flanks,” said Twilight, nostrils slightly flared.
“I’d like to see you try!” hissed Trixie back.
It was Rarity’s turn to step towards Trixie. “Oh, we will take you on! You and all your prissy little teammates!”
During the tense interaction, Pinkie Pie slowly counted all the ponies in the room. She narrowed her eyes as she realized there were only five Rangers present.
“Hey, where’s your sixth player?” interrupted Pinkie.
Trixie pointed toward the Rangers locker room. “Our goalie is currently putting her equipment on. She’s the newest addition to our great and powerful team. As if you’re going to score any goals on her.”
Applejack let out a snort and faced her teammates. “Let’s go girls before we let Trixie and her team get into our heads. We got preparations n’ things to do.”
While they turned to leave, the Rangers’ goalie entered the corridor. A sweet, young voice cut through the chilly air.
Rarity quickly turned around and before her stood her filly sister, Sweetie Belle. Sweetie Belle’s eyes illuminated as she was overjoyed to see her sister. Rarity’s jaw dropped in shock.
“S…S…Sweetie Belle! Wh…what are you doing here? And why do you have that ridiculous goalie gear on?”
Sweetie Belle leaped toward Rarity. “Didn’t mom and dad tell you? I got drafted by the Manehattan Rangers! I’m gonna try to get my cutie mark by being a goalie!”
Rarity, still in shock, tried to gather her wits and gave Sweetie Belle an awkward hug. “Aren’t you a little too young to be playing in this league? It’s going to be dangerous out there. You’re going to get hurt!”
Trixie stepped in between the sisters. “Young Sweetie Belle here has been learning about how to be an excellent goaltender. She’s quick and agile enough to make saves for us. But then again, she shouldn’t have too much of a problem tonight considering you losers are all weak!”
Sweetie Belle snuggled up next to her sister. “See you on the ice, Rarity!” Sweetie Belle happily scampered off toward the Rangers locker room along with the rest of her team. Rarity stood perfectly stiff, still piecing together the past few minutes in her mind. Twilight put a leg around Rarity and directed her and the rest of the Golden Leafs toward their locker room.
Inside their locker room, Spike was putting the finishing touches on their locker stalls. Hanging from each hook was the team’s away jerseys, an immaculate white sweater with the golden thread of the Golden Leafs’ logo shining in the light. Slightly annoyed from their encounter with the Rangers, the Golden Leafs marched to their respective stalls and put their equipment on. Rarity was still talking to herself, greatly concerned for her sister’s involvement in the game. Piece by piece, the Golden Leafs resembled true hockey players: pads, shorts, socks, jerseys, skates, then helmets. With the growing murmur of the crowd echoing through the hallway, the smell of the many concession foods permeating the air, and the chill of the ice seeping into the room, Twilight Sparkle stood tall in front of her team.
“Listen up, girls. Tonight, we take our first real step out on that ice. I know that nerves are high right now and there’s butterflies in our stomachs.” Fluttershy let out a gasp and reached for her stomach in panic. Rainbow Dash laughed at Fluttershy but Twilight yelled out.
“Focus! Now, let’s think back to our training camp. Remember when we started playing together as a team and had fun? Let’s repeat that tonight. Let’s execute on what we worked on and most importantly, let’s enjoy ourselves out there. Stage fright can easily be worked through. Let’s make small, clean passes to get our confidence up and then do what we do best. Now everypony put a skate in.”
Twilight put her skate-covered hoof in the middle of her friends. Rainbow Dash, Applejack, Rarity, Fluttershy, Pinkie Pie, and Spike followed. Twilight pushed the pile of skates in front of her toward the floor. “Team on three. Ready? One…two…three…”
“TEAM!” each pony and Spike shouted as they raised their skates toward the sky.
Focused and ready to go with hockey sticks in mouth, the Ponyville Golden Leafs stepped out into the hallway proudly. They lined up in order by position at the door that led out onto the ice. They could hear the crowd now loudly rumbling, awaiting the arrival of the two teams. Random shouts and horns rang out through the rafters. Twilight looked up at the arena roof to see majestic blue banners of former Rangers championship glory hanging from a beam, floating calmly high above the rink. Rainbow Dash was feeding off the energy of the crowd, wings extended and shaking. Applejack and Rarity stood with stoic expressions, patiently waiting to get on the ice. Fluttershy was slightly trembling, occasionally dropping her stick out of nervousness. Pinkie Pie was bouncing about, practicing save moves and pressing her face against the glass to look at the whole scene. Suddenly, all the lights went out in the arena. Spotlights flashed open and began circling around the ice. The crowd let out a roar when a deep voice boomed from a megaphone.
“Fillies and gentlecolts, welcome to Maredison Square Garden! Where tonight, the Ponyville Golden Leafs take on YOURRR MANEHATTAAAANNN RAAAANGERRRRSSSS!!”
Another roar exploded from the arena as fog slowly rolled in over the ice surface.
“First, a warm Manehattan welcome for the visiting Ponyville Golden Leafs.”
A chorus of booing and hissing was directed toward the spotlight shining on the open door where Twilight and her friends stood. Each pony took a big gulp as they anxiously awaited their introduction.
“Starting at center, number 20, Rainbow Dash.”
Rainbow Dash skated out toward center ice. She started skating in circles fast enough to start a rainbow cyclone. The Rangers fans let their displeasure known and kept booing Rainbow Dash who then flew around angrily shaking her skates at the crowd.
“At left wing, number 9, Rarity.”
Rarity gracefully skated out onto the ice and did a pirouette to which she was greeted with jeers. Rarity was saddened by the throng of boos thrown at her and sulked toward Rainbow.
“At right wing, number 88, Applejack.”
Applejack swiftly skated out. She did a hard lap around the rink and ended up next to her teammates.
“The defense, number 42, Twilight Sparkle.”
Twilight gently skated out. She had an uneasy smile on her face as she skated toward the others.
“Also on defense, number 0, Fluttershy.”
The spotlight returned to the opened door. There was a long pause and still no sign of Fluttershy stepping out onto the ice. Ponies in the crowd turned toward each other and shrugged. As soon as the spotlight left the doorway, Fluttershy quickly stepped out and braced herself up against the boards. Inching around the boards, Fluttershy wanted to make a break for her friends but the spotlight caught her. Fluttershy sprung up into the air in fright when the light shined upon her and she bolted toward Twilight. Twilight had to catch her which incited a large laugh from the audience.
“And starting in goal, number 33, Pinkie Pie.”
Pinkie Pie hopped onto the ice, in full goalie garb, and proceeded to skate backwards toward the rest of the team. When she arrived, Pinkie faced the wrong direction until Rainbow had to tap her on the helmet. Pinkie spun around the right way and let out a giggle.
“And now the starting lineup for YOUR MANEHATTAAANNN RAAAANGERRRSSS! Starting at center, number 15, OCTAAAAVIAAA!”
Octavia skated out, holding her front skates together and shaking them in self-celebration as she was showered with cheers. She lined up across from Rainbow Dash and arrogantly blew her a kiss. Rainbow shot back a mean look with a growl.
“At left wing, number 10, LYRAAAA!!”
Lyra was next to emerge out onto the ice. She spun in circles all the way to her spot in the line. When she stopped, she was directly facing Applejack to whom she gave a little wave. Applejack rolled her eyes unimpressed.
“At right wing, number 66, VIIINYLLL SCRAAATCH!“
Scratch made her way out to the ice and put one skate up to her ear and the other out in front as if she was spinning a record on the turntable much to the delight of the crowd. She lined up across from Rarity and lowered her glasses to give Rarity a wink.
“Starting on defense, number 5, SAPPHIIIIREEE SHOOOOREEESSS!!"
Sapphire had a microphone hooked up around her ear and began to sing one of her hit songs as she skated over toward her team. The crowd ate it up and hollered for her. Sapphire ended up across from Fluttershy and struck a pose. Fluttershy couldn’t do anything but let out a squeak back.
“The other defensepony, your captain, number 4, THE GREAT AND POWERFULLLLL TRIIIIIXIIIIIEEEE!!”
As soon as the announcer finished, a plume of smoke puffed out at center ice. Out of nowhere, fireworks exploded around the arena. When the smoke settled, there stood Trixie, raising her front legs and playing to the crowd. They responded back with an even louder eruption of cheers.
“Finally, starting in goal, making her Manehattan Rangers debut, number 30, SWEEEETIEEE BELLEEEE!!”
Sweetie Belle skated out with a giant happy-go-lucky smile on her face beaming through the facemask. She made her way over to her teammates and gave Rarity a big wave. A concerned visage flushed Rarity’s face as she gave a tiny wave back to her sister.
Now that introductions were done, the noise in the arena settled down and the lights came back up. Each team skated off toward their ends of the rink, doing small laps and stretching out. Twilight motioned to her teammates to meet her at the net. The Golden Leafs converged onto the crease around Pinkie. Twilight gave a nod to each pony.
“Alright girls. Remember what I talked about in the locker room. We ready to do this?”
Pinkie pulled her mask down over her face. “Yes sir, Twilight, sir. Grrrr!”
Rainbow Dash gave a small salute with one of her skates. Applejack was next to go around to each teammate and give them a slight headbutt. Rarity, still a bit nerved, could only produce a tiny grin. Slightly afraid, Fluttershy looked down at her skates and only looked up when Twilight tapped her on the helmet.
On the other end, Trixie was giving her squad a talk. Eyes affixed, each Ranger paid great attention to their captain. When finished, Trixie lifted her head to raise her stick in the air. The rest followed suit and together they slammed their sticks on the ice.
Each team drifted toward center ice, where the head referee stood with puck in mouth. Ponyville and Manehattan got into face-off position, ready to take each other on.
The referee raised his skate toward each goalie, asking if they were ready. Pinkie and Sweetie Belle both raised their goalie stick back. With one nod, the referee released the puck.
The Rangers dominated play early on, placing pressure on the Golden Leafs’ defense and peppering Pinkie with shots from all angles. Pinkie was up to task and made every save so far. Ponyville was able to break Manehattan’s stride a few times, but quickly found themselves back in their own zone. After a deflection off into the corner, Octavia chased after the puck. Applejack quickly closed in and pushed Octavia to the boards, trying to push the puck away. Octavia swept the puck along to boards towards the blue line where Sapphire collected the pass. Applejack turned toward Sapphire and charged hard. Sapphire saw Lyra opened and pass the puck off. Applejack still zeroed in on Sapphire and delivered a brutal check. Immediately the referee lifted his skate with whistle ready. Rainbow glided around Lyra to take the puck away but the whistle tweeted loudly.
The referee approached Applejack. “88, you’re going to the box. Interference.”
“Aww shoot,” said Applejack as she made her way toward the penalty box.
Before the play started back up, Twilight rallied her teammates together.
“Okay, I read that on the penalty kill, the best strategy is to just shoot the puck all the way to the other end so the other team has to waste time retrieving it.”
Rainbow jumped in, “Why don’t we try to score?”
“There’s no time for arguing, just do it!” yelled Twilight shaking her head.
Play resumed and two minutes later, the Golden Leafs killed their first penalty by doing what Twilight had told them.
With Applejack back on, Ponyville maintained control of the puck. Rainbow led the play most of the time, gliding in and letting off shots. Since Rainbow didn’t take time to aim high, each shot was low enough for Sweetie Belle to block it. Each time Rainbow took the puck in and shot, Rarity and Applejack grew more annoyed as their teammate didn’t care to pass to them.
Manehattan began to recognize Rainbow’s one-pony efforts and begun to double team her. When Rainbow would receive the puck, two Rangers swarmed to her to steal the puck away. During one of these double teams, Rainbow desperately tried passing the puck off but it was stolen by Vinyl Scratch. Scratch headed down toward the Ponyville zone. Applejack skated up to her and stuck her stick out. Scratch’s front skate caught Applejack’s stick and she hit the ice like a ton of bricks. The referee quickly gathered up his whistle and blew it sharply. “Number 88, two minutes, tripping!”
Applejack, angry at herself for committing another penalty, returned to the penalty box. She whipped her stick at the bench which caught the attention of the ponies sitting around the penalty box, prompting them to taunt and tease her.
Twilight nodded to her penalty killing unit to repeat their strategy. Puck dropped and Rainbow won the faceoff back to Fluttershy. Fluttershy wound up to fire the puck down the ice but she was too weak. Trixie intercepted the puck at the blue line and passed to Scratch who had circled near the faceoff circle. Twilight stepped toward her and was able to get the puck away but Scratch won it back. Scratch caught Lyra sprinting toward the net on the other wing out of the corner of her eye. With a swift flick, the puck flew across the front of the net. Lyra let the puck rest on her stick blade for only a second before she pounded it into the net. Instantly the goal horn cried throughout the arena and the goal light flickered furiously as the Rangers mobbed Lyra in the corner. The crowd erupted into cheers as the Golden Leafs looked down in disappointment.
“GOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAALLLLLLLLL!! 1-0 MANEHATTAAAANNN!! Her first of the season, number 10, LYRAAA!! Assisted by number 66, Vinyl Scratch. Lyra from Vinyl Scratch at 6:10 in the first period.”
Rainbow slammed her stick on the ice in frustration as Applejack sheepishly exited the penalty box. Both teams met at center ice for the faceoff. Play was on again and Manehattan skated with confidence having struck first blood. A few back-and-forth bursts later, Rainbow ended up with the puck down the middle. Trixie and Sapphire closed in on Rainbow who was now in the Ranger zone, heading toward their net. Rarity followed behind and tapped her stick on the ice to signal she was open. But it was too late as Trixie stole the puck from Rainbow and pushed it up to Octavia who was waiting at center ice. Octavia just had Fluttershy left in her way. Octavia went directly at Fluttershy to which Fluttershy froze up petrified. Octavia glided around Fluttershy and ripped a shot toward Pinkie. Pinkie jumped to catch it but misjudged the puck’s height. The net shook as it absorbed the puck’s force. Once again the horn roared out and the crowd leapt to their hooves.
“GOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAALLLLLLLL!! 2-0 MANEHATTAAAANNN!! Her first of the season, number 15, OCTAAAVIAAA!! Assisted by number 4, The Great and Powerful Trixie. Octavia from The Great and Powerful Trixie at 8:45 in the first period.”
Fluttershy broke out of her frozen state to her teammates looking at her concerned, except Rainbow who only showed a look of frustration. Fluttershy looked away from Rainbow who gave her a sneer. Applejack clunked Rainbow on the helmet to get her to calm down.
There was only 1:15 left in the period when Manehattan scored their second goal as EHL periods only go for ten minutes. Play resumed but neither team had a significant scoring chance. As the clock ticked down to zero, the crowd’s cheering grew louder in support of their Rangers. The arena horn blew to signal the end of the 1st period. The Rangers met at Sweetie Belle and shared helmet taps with each other while the Golden Leafs sadly skated off the ice and into their locker room.
The locker room was quiet as a library as each player kept to herself. Spike went to each pony to blow fire on their skates for sharpening. No longer being able to keep quiet, Pinkie Pie hopped up and put a smile on.
“Come on everypony! It’s not so bad. At least we’re playing hockey together as friends!”
Everyone lifted their head to look at Pinkie. Pinkie paused to think and came up with an idea.
“I know what will get our spirits back, a song!”
Rainbow let out an audible groan as Twilight sat up. “I don’t think a song is…”
“When I was a little filly and the sun was going dooooooown,
Playing hockey was so fun, having to leave made me froooown.”
Applejack interrupted, “Sorry Pinkie, but a song isn’t soundin’ so good right now. Besides I think we already heard that one.”
Pinkie bounced around and made funny faces at each one of her teammates, determined to get her friends to laugh and lighten up. No pony seemed to crack which left Pinkie a little disappointed. Suddenly, Twilight’s face twitched and out came a giggle. She had finally cracked. Applejack then chuckled a bit while Twilight’s giggle broke out into full scale laughter. Rarity and Fluttershy’s faces formed a smile and soon they joined in on the laughter. Rainbow still sat at her stall with a frown and legs folded. Her teammates all turned to her in their laughing fit and wanted her to join in. Rainbow looked at each one of them and eventually cracked a smile, but it quickly turned back into a frown. Rainbow flew up and put her helmet back on.
“Let’s get back out there. We need to score.”
Her teammates trailed behind, still laughing and feeling ten times more relaxed. Both teams returned to the ice for the start of the 2nd period.
After a brief skate, the teams lined up for the puck drop. The game resumed and Ponyville took control early. The Golden Leafs were passing quicker and crisper and finally had their legs under them thanks to Pinkie’s intermission laughing session. Rarity, Rainbow, and Applejack each recorded a shot but were stopped by Sweetie Belle. The puck wound up along the side boards where Trixie and Twilight met to battle for it. They both gave each other a shove as the puck flopped about their skates. Twilight touched the puck but felt a strange pulse repelling her back. Confused by the pulse, Twilight let her guard down and was tossed about. Trixie skated on with the puck quickly. Twilight looked at Trixie and noticed something peculiar. Trixie’s horn had been glowing and had a tiny aura emanating from it.
“She’s using magic! That’s illegal!” Twilight cried to the referee. The referee shrugged and skated on to catch up with the developing play.
Trixie brought the puck into the Ponyville zone and slapped it around the boards. Twilight made it back on defense and received a pass from Applejack who had stolen it. Trixie was closest to Twilight and started veering towards her. With a faint glow on her horn, Trixie lifter her head which made Twilight trip as if she was lassoed. The referee caught Trixie’s little cheat and blew the whistle. “Manehattan, number 4. Two minutes for tripping, and another two minutes for magic use.”
Trixie got in the referee’s face. “I wasn’t using magic! You can’t prove it!” The referee didn’t have any of it and directed her toward the penalty box. Trixie sat down on the bench in a huff.
It was time for Ponyville’s first power play. During training camp, Twilight taught her friends the box method where each skater sets up on a different part of the zone and passes back and forth until a shooting opportunity opens. The puck dropped and Ponyville gained control right away. Rarity and Applejack stood on each side of the net near the boards while Twilight and Fluttershy stood stationed along the blue line. Rainbow was the rover who tried keeping the puck alive and finding a teammate to pass to. The Golden Leafs got a few shots off but Sweetie Belle jumped and pounced on each one. The Rangers cleared the puck down the ice every chance they had. With the first two minutes of Trixie’s penalty over, Rainbow re-grouped behind Pinkie and brought the puck up. She passed it to Applejack who was waiting on the right wing. Applejack brought the puck in and drew both Lyra and Sapphire towards her. Twilight, sensing that the Rangers defense was bunching up on Applejack, started sprinting to her spot on the blue line. Twilight tapped her stick on the ice which Applejack heard and quickly passed back. Twilight reared her head back for the shot as the puck trickled toward her. In a strong swing, Twilight shot on net. The puck sailed high toward the right corner. Sweetie Belle jumped but was still too short for the save. The puck pounded the back of the net and rattled around behind the beaten Rangers goalie. A goal light illuminated above the net and Twilight jumped in joy.
“Ponyville goal, her first of the season, scored by number 42, Twilight Sparkle. Assisted by number 88, Applejack, and number 20, Rainbow Dash. Twilight Sparkle from Applejack and Rainbow Dash at 5:33 in the second period.”
The Golden Leafs smothered Twilight and celebrated their first goal as a team. Twilight received a round of helmet bumps as Trixie skated out from the penalty box hissing at her. Twilight winked at Trixie which made Trixie more infuriated.
Play resumed and Ponyville was back on the attack. Feeling more confident from their first goal, the Golden Leafs sent a barrage of pucks toward Sweetie Belle. Although her teammates were determined, Rarity became concerned about their shot assault on her sister. At one point, Rainbow passed the puck to Rarity who had an open shot. Rarity closed her eyes in apprehension and shot toward the net. The puck flew up and over the boards, way off target. Rainbow skated over to Rarity.
“What what that all about?” asked Rainbow sternly.
“Oh, I can’t stand to hurt Sweetie Belle! I’ve always looked out for her and I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I harmed her!” cried Rarity.
Rainbow gave Rarity an encouraging nudge. “She’ll be okay. She’s held up good so far.”
Rarity looked over to Sweetie Belle who was moving side to side in the crease with a big smile. Rarity eased up and let out a sigh. The puck was dropped and Ponyville regained control. Rarity stood behind the net as Rainbow tried dancing around the Ranger defense. Rainbow passed the puck to Rarity. Dodging a swipe attempt by Sapphire, Rarity quickly spun to the front of the net for a wrap around. Sweetie Belle got caught up in her padding and stumbled, leaving the net wide open. Rarity let out an excited laugh and nudged the puck in. Rarity’s teammates swarmed to her as the goal light reappeared.
“Goal. Her first of the season, number 9, Rarity. Assisted by number 20, Rainbow Dash, and number 42, Twilight Sparkle. Rarity from Rainbow Dash and Twilight Sparkle at 7:29 of the second period.”
Rainbow nodded to Rarity. “See? That wasn’t so bad.”
The game was now tied 2-2. Ponyville rode a 2nd period surge to get back in the game. For the last 2:31 of the period, Manehattan tried answering the Ponyville rally but Pinkie denied them. The final horn eventually rang out. The crowd sat nearly quiet, not too enthused by Manehattan’s efforts in the 2nd period. Ponyville skated off to their locker room with shining smiles.
Back in the locker room, the mood was much more improved than it was during the 1st intermission. Everyone was gleefully chatting and preparing for the 3rd. Spike fixed up all their equipment and soon Ponyville was back out on the ice.
In the Manehattan locker room, Trixie was giving her teammates an earful.
“That was a pathetic excuse of an effort! Why are we tied with an expansion team? Please, somepony tell me why.”
No one answered to Trixie. Sweetie Belle started to become frightened and shook a little in her gear.
Trixie kicked open the door and walked toward the ice. The rest of the Rangers followed their angered captain out.
The 3rd period began and the puck traveled from end to end, with neither team showing an advantage. Rainbow Dash stepped up her game and was zooming all over the ice. When Trixie went to pass to Sapphire along the blue line, Rainbow glided through in to intercept it. Rainbow had a breakaway and sped toward the net. Sweetie Belle skated up a bit to cut down the angle. Rainbow fiddled the puck from side to side hoping to cross up Sweetie Belle. As Sweetie Belle skated backwards into the net, she caught a scratch in the ice and fell. A large, open net was the only thing that stood in Rainbow’s path. Rainbow’s pride overcame her and she started thinking about which celebration she was going to perform. Rainbow pushed the puck toward the net but it skipped wide. She blew past the wide open net in shock and tried to get the puck back but to no avail. When play stopped, Rainbow threw her helmet against the glass in anger.
A few minutes later, Manehattan took over the tempo of the game. They blasted shots on Pinkie but Pinkie stopped them all. Ponyville had one good series on offense where Rarity had a shot swiped out of mid air by her sister goalie. The puck was behind the net where Applejack and Octavia battled for it. The puck bounced free toward the blue line. Twilight skated up to get the puck but missed, leaving Vinyl Scratch and Trixie alone with Fluttershy for a 2-on-1 break. Fluttershy tried staying between the two Rangers but found herself getting closer to Trixie. Seeing Fluttershy coming toward her, Trixie nodded to Vinyl Scratch. Vinyl Scratch headed to the net and Trixie approached Fluttershy. Trixie’s horn sparked again and before Fluttershy knew it she was spinning out of control. Trixie let out a laugh and passed off to Vinyl Scratch who one-timed the puck in past Pinkie. The goal light spun furiously and the horn filled the air. The Rangers’ faithful stood up and cheered as Trixie hugged Vinyl Scratch behind the net.
“GOOOOOAAAAALLLLLL!! 3-2 MANEHATTAAANNN!! Her first of the season, number 66, VINYLLL SCRAAATCH! Assisted by number 4, The Great and Powerful Trixie. Vinyl Scratch from The Great and Powerful Trixie at 8:03 in the third period.”
Twilight noticed Trixie’s horn glowing during the play and rushed over to the referee.
“Did you see that? Trixie used her magic to spin out Fluttershy! The Rangers cheated!”
The referee shook his head. “Sorry, Twilight. I didn’t see anything. The goal stands.”
Rainbow joined Twilight in protest. “What do you mean you didn’t see it? Princess Celestia could see it from Canterlot it was that obvious!”
“If I hear another word, you’re both getting penalties,” snorted the ref.
Twilight lightened up and led Rainbow back toward Applejack and Rarity who were tending to Fluttershy. When Fluttershy realized what had happened, tears welled up in her eyes.
“Oh, I’m so sorry everyone. I let you down and allowed them to score. It’s all my fault.”
Twilight consoled Fluttershy with a hug. “No, it’s not your fault. Trixie cheated and used her magic to make you lose control.”
Fluttershy’s eyes cleared up when she saw her friends weren’t upset at her.
Trixie skated up to the Golden Leafs and laughed.
“I told you losers that you weren’t going to win!”
The Golden Leafs stared back with a renewed fire in their eyes. Twilight looked at the clock and saw there was only 1:57 left. She called a timeout and approached Pinkie.
“Pinkie, get your goalie stuff off and grab a regular stick. We’re pulling you for a sixth skater.”
“Okie dokie lokie, Twilight!”
Pinkie Pie met Spike over at the bench and he helped remove her goalie pads. A few seconds later, Pinkie was lined up and ready to go for the faceoff. The puck dropped and the clock began its countdown. Twilight had the puck and entered the Manehattan zone. Frantically, Rainbow Dash tried to deke her way to the net, but was stopped. She passed off to Rarity who wound up for a shot but saw Vinyl Scratch diving at her. Rarity pulled the puck back and passed to Fluttershy on the blue line who then shuffled it over to Twilight. Only 40 seconds remained now as the crowd grew louder. Pinkie Pie stood in front of Sweetie Belle, blocking her sight. Applejack skated toward the center where Twilight passed the puck. Applejack fired a shot but it flew wide. The puck ricocheted off the glass and landed between Twilight and Fluttershy. 20 seconds left. Twilight reached for the puck with all her might but in flash Octavia took the puck. Octavia glided through center ice and put away the empty net goal. The crowd gave one final cheer as the Rangers celebrated with Octavia at center ice.
“GOOOOOOAAAAALLLLL!! 4-2 MANEHATTAN!! Her second of the season, number 15, OCTAAAVIAAA!! Octavia unassisted at 9:50 in the third period.”
The Ponyville Golden Leafs collectively sulked, as if a balloon was popped and lost all its air. They reset for one final faceoff at the center. The final seconds ticked away, 0:03…0:02…0:01…0:00. The final horn roared as Manehattan won their first game of the season. Streamers rained from the ceiling as Rangers fans whooped wildly for their victorious team. The Manehattan Rangers gathered around their goalie to congratulate her for a job well done. On the other end, a slight somberness hung in the air over the losing team. One by one, drenched in sweat and worn down, the Golden Leafs drifted toward their locker room. Twilight was the last one off the ice as the Rangers took their celebration to center ice. Before Twilight left, Trixie skated toward her. Trixie skated to a halt which sprayed ice flakes into Twilight’s face.
“See you later, losers!”
Twilight sighed and walked to the locker room. Her friends were nearly finished with undressing when she walked in. Even though they experienced defeat in their first game, not one pony appeared too down. Fluttershy was having a laugh with Pinkie Pie while Rarity helped Applejack re-style her mane. Twilight was surprised at upbeat display.
“Hey, girls. I hope you aren’t bummed out.”
Applejack stood up, “Nah, we’re not too beat up ‘bout it. As far as I’m concerned, we had that game won if it weren’t fer Trixie’s cheatin’.”
“After Pinkie made us laugh, I had a lot more fun,” said Fluttershy as she nudged Pinkie.
Rainbow flapped her wings up. “Yeah, even though we lost, we still kicked some flank in the second period. We were doing good then.”
Twilight smiled. “Well I’m glad you all took some positives out of this game. This was just the first game too. We have nine left to win.”
“This was just the first step toward fabulosity. We can only learn and grow from each game. Even though we might lose, we will still be the most stylish team in the EHL. I mean, did you see the jerseys Manehattan had? Bleh!” Rarity stuck her tongue out in disgust.
The ponies laughed as they finished up in the locker room. Using magic, Twilight cleaned their equipment and bundled it all up for Spike to fire-blow it back to Ponyville. Outside the arena, a carriage awaited to take them home. Twilight and friends gave Manehattan one final look before closing the carriage and heading off for Ponyville.
When the Golden Leafs returned to Ponyville late at night, Twilight had them all outside her treehouse. Sleepiness settled in as half of her friends couldn’t keep their eyes open. Twilight let out a yawn herself before speaking.
“So, let’s take a few days off then meet at Ponyville Pond for practice. We’ve got the Cloudsdale Red Wings coming here at the end of the week. In the days off, I’ll do some scouting on them.”
Pinkie giggled, “Oh boy! We get to play in front of all our friends! It’ll be so exciting!”
“Pinkie dear, how do you still energy this late at night?” Rarity lazily asked.
Pinkie Pie smiled proudly. “I don’t know, Rarity. I don’t know.”
Everypony had a laugh and then went home for the evening. The Ponyville Golden Leafs experienced their first loss but they were not deterred. They saw positive signs in their performance that they can build on in the future. The coming week would be an exciting one as they get to play in front of their fellow Ponyvillians for the first time. One little setback won’t dampen these ponies’ spirits.
To Be Continued
Three Stars for Ponyville @ Manehattan
**The Great and Powerful Trixie (MHN)
*** Twilight Sparkle (PGL)
Other Scores Around the EHL (Home Team in CAPS)
Fillydelphia 3, CANTERLOT 1
Appleloosa 2, CLOUDSDALE 0