Friday, March 17, 2017

1989 Lewis Cup Finals

The 1989 Lewis Cup Finals pitted the Philadelphia Redshirts, still in search of their first Lewis Cup, against the defending champion Milwaukee Choppers. Game one in Milwaukee was a tight one, as the teams were deadlocked 2-2 halfway through the second period. With just 20 seconds to go in the second, Travis Curry broke the tie, giving the Choppers a 3-2 lead. Scott Daffney stole the show in the third period as Milwaukee drew first blood with a 3-2 win. In game two, Philadelphia responded with a 4-2 win thanks to a big third period goal from veteran Bobby Ford to break another 2-2 tie. Heading home to Philadelphia for game three, the Redshirts were a very confident team, having stolen home ice advantage. Once again, the two teams were tied 2-2, except this time the game would go to overtime. Milwaukee had several golden opportunities, but Antero Parvainen came up big for the Redshirts, forcing the game to a second OT, where Etienne St. Laurent beat Daffney to give Philly a 3-2 win and a 2-1 series lead. Game four would also go to overtime, with the teams knotted 3-3. This time, Daffney was spectacular, stopping 17 shots in OT. Parvainen also came up big, until Choppers tough guy Shayne Boggs jammed in a rebound to win the game for Milwaukee and tie the series. Back in Milwaukee for a pivotal game five, the Choppers felt good about their chances despite being outplayed all series by the Redshirts. “We’re winning games we really don’t deserve to win. We just need to find a way to keep pressuring them and hope the results will keep coming” said Choppers captain Bruce Gratton.

Game five wasn’t even close. Milwaukee came flying out of the gate, peppering Parvainen with shot after shot. By the end of the first period, the score was 4-0 and Philly chose to pull Parvainen in favour of backup Darren Beauport. Beauport actually played quite well in his first-ever playoff action, while Magnus Swedberg and Stuart Holly each scored to put the Redshirts on the board, but it was too little too late. Gratton added a fifth goal to make it 5-2, sealing the game and giving Milwaukee an opportunity to defend their title at the PhillyDome in game six. Game six was another tight contest. Philadelphia scored first on a brilliant end-to-end rush from Swedberg before Milwaukee responded with two quick ones to steal the lead. Early in the second period, Swedberg scored his second of the game to tie it. Just minutes later, Gary Johnson’s point shot gave Philly their second lead of the game, which held until the third period. Just three minutes into the third, Terry Hawkins scored a big goal for the Choppers to tie the game at 3-3. The sellout crowd at the PhillyDome chanted “We Want the Cup!” as the Redshirts pushed hard for the go-ahead goal. With just two minutes to go, Scott Daffney made a brilliant save on Bobby Ford. Milwaukee defenseman Olivier Meloche cleared the puck and hit Travis Curry with a brilliant pass, springing him on a break. Curry faked out Parvainen and beat him top corner. Milwaukee now led the game 4-3 and stood just under two minutes away from their second straight Lewis Cup. Mike Fleming sealed the game with the empty netter just 20 seconds later and the Milwaukee Choppers went on to celebrate their second straight Lewis Cup title. “This is unbelievable” said Choppers captain Bruce Gratton. “I started with this team in their second year in Dallas, I was here for the move, there were some tough years here. To be able to do this two years in a row now is just unreal.”

For Philadelphia, the loss was beyond disappointing, as the drought continued for the PHL’s only remaining original franchise without a Lewis Cup. “I don’t know what else to say, we had the heart, we had the determination, we just couldn’t finish it off” said Gary Johnson. As for legend Stuart Holly, he would not comment on his future or whether or not this was the end of his career. “I’ll have to make that decision this summer” said Holly.

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