Despite having the largest roster in team history, the Jokers struggled to field a bench deep enough to keep up with the Charleston Chiefs on Sunday, losing 2-1. Goalie Matt Chapman was signed to a one-game contract before the game, as was longtime Joker Rich Harris who made his first appearance for the team in nearly six years. Chapman kept the Chiefs at bay for most of the game, stopping all 16 shots he faced through the first two periods.
The Jokers offense struggled however with their star scorer Graig Romberg playing defense most of the game. The scoreless tie would be broken at the start of the third period when former Joker Mark Torre flicked a wrister passed Chapman. Just 1:30 later speedster Shaun Frobey tapped in pass from the corner to take a 2-0 lead. The Jokers would be granted a power play with only 1:23 left in the game and called a timeout. Chapman was pulled for the 6-on-4 advantage shortly thereafter but the Jokers failed to convert the opportunity.
The Joker net remained empty though as defenseman Rich Orsini blasted a slapshot through traffic passed the Chiefs goalie to break up the shutout with only 12 seconds left in the game. Center Frank Melillo won the final draw and LW John DeLuca threw a shot on net that was kicked to the corner and time expired. “Well, we battled. We faced a really solid team and just came up short. I thought we might have been able to get one at the very end but just couldn’t get it done,” said DeLuca. The Jokers will have a 12-day layoff in between games and next face Big Fish on Friday, June 24 at 7pm.
The Jokers of Doom faced the Yellow Jackets Wednesday night in what turned out to be a close, hard fought, 2-0 win. Not surprisingly, the Yellow Jackets, who have improved their roster at most positions over the course of the season, showed up ready for a victory against The Jokers.
The Jokers were outshot 32-23 but goaltender Josh Berelli denied each one, making incredible saves to secure the shutout victory. Defensemen Devon Sylvester got the Jokers on the board at 6:11 of the first period. Sylvester attempted to clear the zone and hit a Yellow Jackets player and found its way through the rafters and over the head of the opposing goalie. The odd goal would stand through the end of the first frame.
The next two periods were just as tightly contested though. The Yellow Jackets kept coming hard but the solid team defense and amazing goaltending by Berrelli held them off. Center Ray Glowicki scored late in the third on an empty net to seal the game. Winger John DeLuca was credited with an assist on the play. The win secured a third place finish for the Jokers who will have a tough test in the first round against Big Fish.
Goalie Tim Fisher collected his franchise best eight Top Goalie award, the league announced. Fisher posted a 94.06% save percentage and 1.40 goals against average as well as two shutouts. In his four wins he allowed only two goals on 91 shots.
Graig Romberg ended the season as the leading scorer with 15 goals and 9 assists (24 points) in eight games played. This is Romberg’s third such award in his short tenure with the Jokers. In addition to his scoring prowess, Romberg chips in on defense when needed and also led the team in penalty minutes.
Despite being tied in points heading into the final game of the season, the Jokers held the first place edge over ElephanTitus thanks to team goals against average. All four playoff spots in the division had been all but officially settled. The final regular season game against Brittany’s Boys would serve as a playoff tune up as the teams were set to face each other in the semi-finals on Saturday, March 5.
Things would start nicely for the Jokers with center Phil Mrazik hammering home a pass from the corner and taking the lead only 54 seconds into the game. The Boys’ offense though would rebound to tie the game a mere six seconds later. The two teams traded goals three times and the Jokers fell behind 5-3 after the first period in what would turn out to be a wild game. Winger Jimmy Dowd would give the Jokers the 7-6 lead two minutes into the third period as the teams battled back and forth. The Boys refused to let up though and would tie the game at seven with 1:07 left in the game. Defenseman Devon Sylvester just missed out on stealing the game with the clock winding down after making a spectacular deke into the high slot. The game would head to overtime with both teams applying pressure and hoping to gain an edge before the playoffs. Only 40 seconds from the game ending in a tie, defenseman Rich Orsini had other plans. Orsini wound up and fired a slapshot through traffic that found the back of the net to secure the 8-7 win.
The Jokers of Doom faced a familiar opponent in the Yellow Jackets on Saturday night, prevailing 4-1. Pressure came early from the Jokers’ offense and goals soon followed. Less than three minutes into the game right winger Josh Berrelli made a spectacular move, fooling the Jackets’ goalie and gave the Jokers the early lead. Just minutes later Graig Romberg, filling in on defense, carried the ball over the center line and led captain Jim Brunetti with a cross-rink pass. Brunetti flicked a wrist shot high on the glove side to take an early 2-0 lead. Mid-way through the second period, Romberg blasted a slapshot that quickly found the net. Now down 3-0, the Yellow Jackets offense kept hustling and trying to find a way to get on the scoreboard. Jokers goalie Tim Fisher continued to play big though, limiting rebounds and controlling the clock. Romberg would add another goal late in the third period just before the Yellow Jackets would snag their only goal of the game. Fisher did stop 27 of 28 shots though to take control of the top spot in the division with one game to play.
In a potential championship preview, the Jokers lost 4-1 to Elephantitus on Saturday.
The last time these two teams faced each other, the Jokers prevailed, overcoming injuries and having only one bench player. Goalie Tim Fisher stymied the offense leaving players on both sides shaking their heads. This time though, the Jokers offense struggled to find a rhythm. Shots came in bunches and second chances couldn’t be cashed in. Chris McMullen filled in admirably for Fisher, stopping 29 of 32 tough shots and the defense did their best to contain Elephantitus’ eager offense.
There was a little excitement to start the third period with the Jokers trailing 3-0, center Frank Melillo poked at a loose ball which the opposing goalie took exception to. Players from both teams came in shoving and six minor penalties were assessed. Later in the period, winger Josh Berrelli put his team on the board making the score 3-1. Seconds later, with a faceoff deep in the Elephantitus zone, the Jokers took their only timeout and pulled McMullen in a last ditch effort to tie the game. Despite the extra attacker though, Elephantitus would tack on an empty-net goal and seal the win. The teams are now separated by a mere two points with two games left in each of their seasons.
The Chiefs came into yesterday’s game 0-3-1, but the Jokers knew better than to expect to cruise to an easy win. Despite missing leading scorer (and former Joker) Mark Torre, they always seem to battle and with the Jokers sitting atop the division, they were surely going to bring their best.
The Jokers came out strong and controlled possession for most of the first period, peppering Chiefs goalie Chris Rounds with shots and increasing pressure. Time and again, Rounds denied the Jokers scoring chances and kept his team in the game. Mid-way through the second period however, scoring leader Graig Romberg rushed in and fired a shot hard that Rounds got in the way of. Luckily, line mate Jimmy Dowd kept in the play and stuffed home the rebound for a 1-0 lead. When playing with a lead this season, the Jokers have generally been able to pile on, scoring four or more goals in every game this season. As of the last few seasons though, the Jokers have been known to go on desert-like dry runs in the scoring department.
The offense seemed to lack quality opportunities after that and the score remained 1-0 well into the third period. Goalie Tim Fisher did a tremendous drop minimizing second chances for the chiefs and controlling the clock throughout the game. Team defense is generally where the team excels and it appeared that this game would be no different. “The D had a few great plays where they were right there in the crease to help clear out a loose ball or rebound,” said Fisher. In a last-ditch attempt to tie the game, the Chiefs pulled their goalie with 1:29 to play and a faceoff to the left of Fisher deep in the Jokers’ zone. Center Frank Melillo won the draw cleanly back to defenseman Mike Bradigo. Bradigo bounced a pass off the boards to Romberg who quickly cashed in on the empty net opportunity. The Chiefs left their net vacant and Romberg would again capitalize to secure the win for the Jokers 3-0. “Going forward,” Fisher added, “one goal isn’t going to cut it.” “We have a target on our backs and have to keep grinding.”
Fisher stopped all 26 of the shots he faced for his second shutout of the season, and has only allowed one goal on the last 63 shots he’s faced over three games.
The Jokers of Doom have made it through the first five games of the Winter 2016 season unscathed. Three goalies (Fisher, Berrelli, and McMullen) have at least one win each and have combined for a 91.85% save percentage and a division-leading 2.20 goals against average. The Jokers’ offense has struggled in recent seasons but seems to have found a groove this season, scoring at least four goals in each game this season. Four players (Romberg, Herren, Berrelli, and Dowd have 8 points each.
The way the division has unfolded is revealing though; The top three teams are a combined 12-1, the other four teams are 3-14. This should make things interesting the rest of the way as teams start preparing for playoff matchups.
Reaching the finals in the Spring 2015 season – the first time since their most recent championship win on December 11, 2013 was a nice first step for the Jokers. Coming up empty in the best-of-3 series left the team hungry for more. The team announced the final roster for the 2016 Winter season:
|| Josh Berrelli