The last time the Twillingate Combines visited the Beothic Arena in New-Wes-Valley it left with the Central Newfoundland Hockey League championship trophy.
The Combines returned to the Beothic Arena for the first time since then over the weekend for a pair of games against the Beothics, and the rematch lived up to its billing.
The Beothics threw everything but the Zamboni at Twillingate Combines' goalie Tristan Watkins Saturday night, but came on out the losing end of a thrilling 3-2 game.
The second game of the set was equally as entertaining on Sunday, but the Combines escaped with a 5-4 win.
The Beothics fired 45 shots on goal Saturday night, many of which were screened shots or shots from in close, but Watkins turned away 43 of them to preserve the win.
Beothics head coach Hubert Spurrell would have liked to see more shots get by the Twillingate goalie, but Watkins, who played in his first game of the season Saturday night, was simply too good.
"I think the boys did everything but score," said Spurrell after Saturday night's tilt,
which saw the Beothics out-shoot the Combines 45-16. "I think we certainly had our chances, but Tristan played well, and you have to give full credit to their goalie. Anytime you can triple the other team in shots you have to be pleased with your team, and there's no question about it, I am pleased. I thought everybody played well."
Saturday's game was definitely a run-of-the-mill battle between the two storied rivals. The game was chippy at times, and both teams spent more than its fair share of time in the penalty box.
Even though the battle was entertaining to those that packed the Beothic Arena, Spurrell believes the game could have had a better flow if not for the constant parade of penalties.
"The penalties certainly played a part," said Spurrell. "It was definitely a penalty-filled game, and you couldn't get any flow to the game, and I think that could have worked to Twillingate's advantage."
The parade to the penalty box went back and forth the entire game, but the Beothics enjoyed the final power play with less than two minutes left in the game while down 3-2. With starting goaltender Gerald Templeman on the bench for the extra attacker, the Beothics kept the puck in Combines' territory. The Beothics had defenceman Ronnie Tiller screening Watkins, and let shot after shot fly at the Combines' goalie. However, Watkins stood strong amongst the final flurry of shots to collect the W, and player-of-the-game honours for the Combines.
"Sure you still get excited, everybody does," said Spurrell, when asked if even he still gets excited during a final-minute flurry of hockey action. "If I said I didn't I'd be telling you a lie, for sure. Everybody gets into it, you know.
"Everybody was on the edge of their seats. I think the best part of it was, we were down 3-0 after the first and fought back to make it 3-2. The boys dominated the second, and I also thought we dominated the third."
Defenceman Matthew Sturge was on the bench during that final flurry, pleading the puck to go into the net to force overtime.
Although it didn't happen, Sturge was pleased with the game, and the effort the home side put forth in front of the local hockey fans.
"I thought it was a really good game," said Sturge. "We were down 3-0 in the first period, but we played really well and battled back to make a game of it. The goalie saved it for them, there's no doubt about that, but I thought it was an excellent game."
The Beothics will head to Twillingate for games Dec. 9 and 10, when the two teams will add another chapter to what has been an entertaining, regionally historic rivalry.
"I thought it was a fairly clean game for the rivalry that's between us," said Sturge. "It's better than I expected. I thought it was going to be a lot worst, but it turned out to be a great game, even though we came away with the loss."
John Maye led the way for the Combines with two first-period goals, while Jeremy Pardy added a single.
Troy Stratton and Andrew Norris replied with second-period singles for the Beothics.
The Beothics are off this weekend, while the Gander Flyers will travel to Lewisporte Saturday night for a game against the Seahawks.