Purcell's Cross to Bear
by Matthew Conyers/CHN Reporter
ST. LOUIS Maine freshman forward Teddy Purcell has a made habit of hitting the crossbar.
For Purcell, the hitting of a crossbar has almost become a game-by-game ritual; most of the time, Purcell is able to shake it off and move on without much afterthought.
After Thursday's game though, there might just be one crossbar ringing that Purcell won't forget that easily.
At 16:38 of the third period, with the Black Bears and Michigan State knotted at 2-2 in the National Semifinal game, Purcell smacked the top post with more then half the Spartans' net open and for the taking.
"The puck just came out, the goalie was halfway out of the net and he didn't know where the puck was," said Purcell. "I was just trying to get it on net."
"I was in front and it just came out to him," said forward Keith Johnson, who was on the ice. "At the time, I felt pretty happy that he was going to put that in. But then it deflects off something and hits the crossbar."
With the puck scooting right off the back and to his stick, Purcell fired his trademark laser to the net. From there, Purcell heard a sound that will ring in his long after his playing days are over.
"It's harder to shallow when looking at the end result," said Purcell. "At the time it was a 2-2 game and that would've made it 3-2 but instead they go down on the next shift and make it 3-2 for them."
Defenseman Bret Tyler put it more bluntly.
"That goes in, who knows what happens," said Tyler. "It's tough to shallow."
What actually happened though was even more disappointing for Maine. Moments later, Michigan State stormed down and flipped a rebound shot over a flopping Ben Bishop. The Spartans would dictate the pace for the rest of the game and snag the all-important victory for their own shot at a third national championship in school history.
"It hit it square on the crossbar — its one of those things that could've gone either way," said Purcell. "Tonight was just not our night."
At the time, Purcell was attempting to test netminder Jeff Lerg down low.
"From far away we were trying to shoot it low, but in tight I was just trying to go up a couple times because his so low that he does go down a lot," said Purcell.
Still, whether or not Purcell admits it, his hobby of hitting crossbars finally caught up to him, and in the worst moment possible.
"It was the third or fourth one I've hit in the last couple games," said Purcell. "It's just one of those kind of unlucky bounces; maybe I got my bounces earlier."
Maybe, maybe not. But it in a game, where momentum is so pivotal, Purcell's crossbar beating, might have been the biggest game changer.
"There were a couple posts here and there, but they got the bounce," said Bishop. "In the end they got the win. We could have played a little harder in the second and we kind of let them take the momentum."
For Maine, the crossbar shot falls onto a whole list of things that went wrong for the squad in the final 55 minutes of the game after going up 2-0. And like all the others factors — the transition game, the battle along the boards, the play in front of the net — it is one aspect of tonight's match that they undoubtedly learn from and remember.
"I'm a little upset about it, but at the same time we have to be mature about it and learn from it," said Purcell.