LaGrange Hooligans go 2-1 last weekend to solidify second in the division standings

Published 1:31 pm Thursday, June 20, 2024

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The Hooligans were back in action on Saturday, June 15. It was the second weekend of play for the newest division of the National Ball Hockey League, the Georgia Division. Composed of 4 teams in the third tier of competition the LaGrange Hooligans squared off against the Atlanta Despots, Georgia Boll Weevils, and Atlanta Dirty Birds.

The first game of the weekend for the Hooligans saw them take on the Boll Weevils with Kolby Smallwood in goal turning away all 15 shots and shutting out the Weevils. Alternate Captain Dylan Stotsky opened the scoring for the Hooligans three minutes into the 1st period. Both teams dug in defensively after that ending the first period 1-0. Early into the 2nd period Stotsky struck again following a rebound given up by the Weevils goalie off a shot from defenseman Jordan Shaw to put the Hooligans up 2-0. 

Captain Joseph Shaw added to the scoresheet to close out the period after he found a pass from Dylan Stotsky in his defensive zone, darted in between 3 Weevils players and scored a wrist shot from far out. Another faceoff win by centermen Jr. Pursley and another one-timer by Joseph Shaw started off the 3rd period putting the score at 4-0. Defensively the Hooligans were able to limit the weevils to just 4 shots on goal in the 3rd period. Defensemen Cecil Yawn and Ryan Denison laid their bodies on the line blocking many shots from ever reaching the goal and Jordan Shaw was instrumental in helping push strong offensive attacks.

Playing in back-to-back games, the Hooligans faced the Atlanta Despots in the day’s second contest. Glenn Cunningham had another standout performance in goal after the Hooligans allowed four goals in the first period. Cunningham stopped the next 16 shots he made to help secure a big win for the Hooligans. 

The Despots seemed unbeatable but the Hooligans were able to start shifting the momentum back in their favor when Jordan Shaw capitalized on a mistake during another Despots power play. Following a defensive zone faceoff win by Jr. Pursley, Daniel Swann banked the ball off the boards clearing the Hooligans Zone. Shaw, sensing an opportunity, dashed behind the Despots defensemen picking up the ball in his attacking zone and one on one with the goalie gave the Hooligans their first point of the game. Shorthanded again Cunningham made a diving stick save in the goal taking the ball off the stick of a despot forward that found his teammate Stotsky who was able to drive and score off another quick Hooligans counterattack to end the 1st period. 

The second period saw one goal from the Hooligans when Pursely made a move on the Depots goalie who made an incredible save with his blocker hand. Pursely, who had gone to his knees stretching out to make his shot, found the loose ball and was able to push it into the goal , bringing the Hooligans within 1. Joseph Shaw tied the game 2 minutes in the 3rd period and it looked like this was how the game was going to end, until the very last second. The Hooligans got an offensive zone faceoff with 20 seconds left on the clock of the tied game. 

Despots, desperate to get the ball out of their zone, tried to pass the ball to the other end but was stopped by Eric Morgan who again aimed for the goal. Taking the ball out of the corner of the rink, Stotsky took another shot with 2 seconds on the clock that was stopped by the goalie. Loose, the ball landed on the stick of Jr. Pursley who was unguarded at the edge of the goalie crease. Pursley netted the game-winning goal with less than a second on the clock securing a Hooligans win.

The final game of the day for the hooligans was against the division-leading Atlanta Dirty Birds and unfortunately, the Hooligans couldn’t find the same magic as they had in their first 2 games losing in their final competition. 

Thus far in the season, the Hooligans are in second place in the GA division with 12 points, trailing the Dirty Birds who have 18. Shaw leads the team with 6 goals (after scoring 3 this weekend) and Stotsky and Pursely, both with 8 points, to lead the team in that category. Smallwood and Cunningham each have 1 shutout and Cunningham is second in the division in wins.

Commenting on the success of the GA division after its second weekend of play, National Ball Hockey League Commissioner Anthony Sanrocco said “The growth of the Georgia Division has been massive for the sport of ball hockey. Glenn Cunningham has been fantastic as the division director to bring everyone together and organize the teams. Bringing these new teams and players into the mix is exciting for all involved. We look forward to the continued development of ball hockey in Georgia.”

Games are played at Kedran Hockey Rink in Peachtree City and will resume play again on July 27th. Playoffs for the division will be held August 10th