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The Greatest Rivalry Game Ever


Season 29 – Game 265





The Story Leading to the Game


With just a handful of games remaining in the season, the Toronto Legion and the Seattle Bears were embroiled in a fierce race for the Punch Imlach Memorial Trophy, with just five points separating the two teams. While the Legion were the team that held the five point advantage, they had also played two games more than the Bears, so while a win for Toronto would see them take a likely insurmountable lead in the North American Conference, a loss would likely give the Bears the advantage heading into the end of the season. Both teams had very different styles of play to their game; the Legion possessed a huge goal-scoring threat on both of their starting forward lines while the Bears were known more for their stout physical defense which was led by the powerhouse Mitch Higgins. The focus of the game though was set to be pointed on the goalkeeper battle between a pair of goalkeepers who would eventually become Hall of Famers, CAL G and Alexander Labatte. However, due to Legion General Manager Sandro Deslaunniers electing to use their backup goalie (Fernando Garcia Jr.) for this game, we were unfortunately denied this great matchup.


The Game


It didn’t take long for the deadlock to be broken as the Bears took advantage of a powerplay they had earned courtesy of a Patrik Johansen penalty to get the first goal of the game through their assistant captain Felix Peters. Things really started to heat up with just six minutes played as a mass brawl broke out between the two teams, leading to four players being penalized for fighting along with another five being penalized for minor penalties. The first period of play made it clear that Seattle were keen to impose their physicality upon Toronto at all times, with JaMarcus Simmons in particular picking up three minor penalties in the first period alone. While the Legion ended the first period on top in shots, they entered the second a goal down. 
Halfway through the game, tensions boiled over once more and it led to Lasse Milo and Nic Riopel clashing with their fists for the second time in the game. While there would be no clear winner in the fight again this time, Milo would take no further part in the game as he found himself ejected from the game for instigating the fight and a further five players were penalized for minors leading up to the fight. Over two periods, it was clear that the Legion had been struggling to take advantage when they had an extra man on the ice and were being targeted when they were a man down, the latter of which had been a rare weakness for the Legion all season.

Midway through the third period, the Bears would take a two goal lead. Less than twenty seconds after Jarppi Leppälä had picked up a minor penalty, Nikolai Lebedev was able to deflect a Damon Wolfe shot past Garcia for his 35th goal of the season. With Toronto only managing to get off two shot attempts in the third quarter, they were simply unable to break down the fierce Bears defense and, less than a minute left in the game, frustrations seemed to take over as a six man brawl broke out between the two teams. The fight saw Jarppi Leppälä beat up rookie Theseus Athera and also ended up with Damon Wolfe being ejected from the game for instigating his second fight of the night. 

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