The Jokers of Doom beleaguered roster battled against the Big Fish on Friday night and came away with a narrow 3-2 win. Goalie Matt Chapman filled in admirably for the second straight game, stopping 18 of 20 shots faced and helped his new teammates by controlling the clock as much as possible.
Luckily for the Jokers, they would start strong. Joker alumnus Brian Beausoleil was signed prior to the game – adding to the franchise’s largest roster – and contributed from start to finish. Beausoleil cashed in a nifty pass from line-mate Graig Romberg for a 1-0 lead less than 2:30 into the game. Only eight seconds later Romberg would make a Big Fish turnover costly when he intercepted a pass only a few feet from the opposing goalie and put a quick wrist shot over his glove to double the Jokers lead. The period would end with the Jokers up 2-1 after the Big Fish scored on a slapshot resulting from a lost defensive-zone face off.
Almost halfway through the middle period, Romberg would hit a streaking Josh Berrelli with a cross-rink pass just over the center line. Berrelli carried the ball to the top of the face off circle and threw a wrist shot high to the opposite side to extend the lead to 3-1. As much as the Jokers hoped that would be enough, they knew better. Although both teams had a short bench, the Jokers had only one player on their bench and knew the key would be to play tough, smart defense. That’s where veterans Rich Orsini and Devon Sylvester came in. Not surprisingly, the pair played most of the game with Romberg filling in when necessary – blocking shots, clearing the crease, and making things difficult for the opposing offense.
The Big Fish had some fight left in them though, and scored to trim the lead to 3-2 with only 2:40 left in the game. Both teams labored as they counted down the final minutes. With just over a minute to go, the Big Fish goalie would race to the bench in favor of the extra attacker. Beausoleil and Sylvester would each block a shot in the final seconds and the Jokers would hold on for the win.
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.