Aviators crash and burn, as Federal League trophy goes to the damn Akwesasne Warriors

Aviators crash and burn, as Federal League trophy goes to the damn Akwesasne Warriors
Photo by Allison Papineau

It’s all over.

The New York Aviators fell in the Federal Hockey League finals with a crushing, 5–2 loss in Canada on Saturday night — killing the scrappy squad’s dreams of raising the coveted Commissioner’s Cup over their heads.

The Aviators had the best record during the league’s inaugural season, and made short work of its rivals, the Danbury Whalers, in the first round of the playoffs. But in the finals, the pride of Floyd Bennett Field fell behind the Akwesasne Warriors, 2–0, before forcing a Game 4 with a 6-3 win against Friday night.

An Aviator win would have sent the best-of-five series back to Brooklyn for a final face-off at the Aviator Sports Complex. But the Warriors refused to follow the Aviators’ flight plan.

The Canadians went on the warpath as soon as they took to the ice inside the Akwesasne Turtle Dome — with one of their players being sent to the penalty box for roughing within one minute of play.

The icemen from Ontario were merciless offensively, taking 13 shots at the Aviators’s net in the first period alone. The Aviators had only four shots.

It's all over. The Aviators have lost.

Goaltender Kevin Druce fended off the most of the onslaught, giving up only one goal with five minutes remaining in the first period.

The Warriors earned their second goal three minutes into the second period, but by then the Brooklyn squad began pushing back, with Aviator Jesse Felten scoring seconds later.

But things just fell apart in the third period. With the Warriors leading 3-2, Coach Robert Miller decided to play dangerously. With three minutes remaining, he swapped Druce for a player that could help in power plays, leaving an empty net.

The decision proved to be a costly one — with no one protecting the net, the Warriors easily scored two more goals before the final buzzer sounded.

Saturday’s defeat brought an end to a spectacular run for the Aviators, who clinched the Federal Hockey League’s inaugural season with a 32-13 record — including an unfathomable 21-game winning streak.

It's all over. The Aviators have lost.

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