Twenty-four hours removed from the Ponyville Golden Leafs' first victory over the Appleloosa Black Apples, Twilight Sparkle awoke to begin a new day. Twilight slinked to the side of the bed and put all her hooves to the floor. After a big yawn and stretch, she made her way down the stairs a bit dazed. With eyes half shut, Twilight landed in the common room and surveyed the area. She saw some books lying askew on shelves, the curtains ruffled and swaying in the morning breeze, and a pile of golden flakes on the table. Unmotivated to clean up her living room, Twilight turned around to head back upstairs when a cold splash of fear sent a shockwave throughout her body. She ran to the table and saw the dangerous poison joke plant swaying innocently as if it was mocking her. Twilight's mind began to spin like a top as she inspected the golden flakes, panicking about what joke might have befallen her this time. Twilight ran upstairs to the mirror to check her horn. Looking at her reflection, Twilight didn't notice anything peculiar or different. She let out a sigh of relief until boisterous knocking on the door downstairs grabbed her attention. Upon opening the door, Applejack, Fluttershy, Rainbow Dash, Rarity, and Pinkie Pie leapt into the treehouse and mobbed Twilight, sending them all falling to the floor with a thud. After getting up, the ponies began to panic.
"I knew it! I just knew it! Trixie would never be that kind to send us flowers! Oh what a wretched trick!" cried Rarity.
Rainbow flew up into the air "You didn't know anything, Rarity! Twilight was the one who thought it was suspicious! What are we going to do? WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DOOOO?!?"
"Oh no! What's happened to us this time? I hope I didn't lose my ability to talk! It would just horrible if I couldn't talk again! I remember last time when we were infected by the poison joke. It was sooooo bad! My tongue was all puffy and blue and I couldn't say anything!" shrieked Pinkie.
"Pinkie! You are talking! Calm down!" yelled Twilight.
Hoping to ease everybody's nerves, Applejack chimed in. "Well this time I ain't tiny. From the looks of it, it seems we ain't affected. Rainbow's wings are fine, Pinkie can talk, Rarity's mane is still the same, and Twilight's horn isn't floppin' around."
Everyone took a deep breath of relaxation at Applejack's assessment. Twilight walked over to her bookshelf to begin looking for her copy of Supernaturals: Natural Remedies and Cure-Alls that are Simply Super. "Perhaps Applejack is right girls. Maybe the poison joke didn't work this time."
Fluttershy nestled herself down onto a pillow. "We will be alright girls. Now let's all quiet down and enjoy a nice rest," she said in her normal, soft voice.
"NO! NO! NO! NO! NO!"
Fluttershy flew up and squeaked in fright as Twilight flung books from her book shelves. "It's not here! I can't find my book!"
The others gasped and quickly re-entered panic mode. Before the craziness got out of hand, Twilight stopped her searching and addressed her friends.
"As of right now, we don't know if the poison joke has affected us or not. I say we all relax and let's have our practice after lunch as scheduled."
Applejack shook her head in agreement. "I agree. Maybe we missed the bullet and nothin' will come over us."
Rarity, Pinkie, and Rainbow nodded hesitantly, although still showing signs of nervousness and fright. Twilight used her magic to dispense of the poison joke plant and sent her friends along their way.
It was practice time as the Golden Leafs met up at Ponyville Pond. Afraid of the poison joke's effects, each pony slowly put on their uniforms and gingerly stepped out onto the ice. When it appeared nothing harmful or unfortunate was going to happen, the girls let out a sigh of relief and begun their practice routine. After taking their normal skating laps and going through their stretches, Twilight spoke up.
"Okay Golden Leafs. Our next opponent is the Fillydelphia Flyers. They're known for being a skilled, but dirty team. We have to be sharp and poised if we're going to win. They have a set of very talented twins who we'll need to keep in check; Caramela and Caramelo, the two wingers."
Rainbow raised her hoof. Annoyed by this, Twilight promptly interrupted. "Rainbow, why is it that you're ALWAYS the first pony to raise her hoof after I go over something? Can't you just listen to what I have to say and accept it?"
"Oh, I wasn't going to say anything. I was just stretching some more."
Twilight face-hoofed and continued on. "So today we're going to practice defensive assignments and covering the opponent. Using my magic, I'll have these pony-sized mannequins play like the Flyers do and we'll go from there. Any questions?" Twilight directed an intense stare at Rainbow. Rainbow pretended to raise her hoof but stopped and shook her head no.
With a blow of the whistle, Twilight's mannequins appeared out of thin air and began to skate like real players. The puck dropped in front of the center dummy and play was on. Without waiting, Rainbow Dash flew at her opposing player. When she came in closer, her wings suddenly sprang up and redirected her away causing her to miss the dummy.
Rainbow screeched to a stop and turned around toward her teammates. "What? What just happened?"
"Your wings popped out and forced you away!" gasped Rarity.
The fake opponent passed the puck to the left wing dummy which stood in front of Applejack. Sensing a good opportunity for a check, Applejack started her stride. Even though Applejack's legs were moving, she was skating slower than a snail. She clenched her teeth and tried powering her legs more but didn't move any faster.
"Now what in tarnation?! I cain't move at all! My legs are churnin' but I ain't burnin'!"
"It's the poison joke! We're doooooomed!" yelled Pinkie from out her goalie mask.
With uneasiness growing inside her, Twilight naively tried to dismiss it. "Uhh maybe her skates are just dull?"
The right wing mannequin zipped across the middle of the zone and passed off to the left wing dummy. Rarity attempted to skate closer but as soon as she took her first step, her legs gave out from under her and she tripped face first. Rarity slowly got up and cried.
"Oh it's no use! We are infected! I don't know what happened to my legs! We're ruined!"
Again, Twilight tried to dismiss it. "Oh Rarity, you were just clumsy. Get back up and you'll be fine."
Now standing, Rarity tried a few quick strides but quickly tumbled back down to the ice. She remained sprawled out on the ice and began weeping.
The left wing dummy passed over to the center dummy who was behind the net. Fluttershy quickly turned around to go cover the puck holder. As Fluttershy skated toward the center dummy, her helmet expanded in size and blocked her sight. Fluttershy screamed as she kept skating blindly toward the back of the net. The center dummy dodged the incoming Fluttershy and passed the puck around the boards. Visually impaired, Fluttershy rammed into the side post of the net and knocked Pinkie over. Pinkie helped Fluttershy up and turned to Twilight.
"Now do you believe Twilight? Now do you believe that we're dooooooooomed?!"
"Uhh maybe her helmet straps need to be tightened? I'll get Spike right on that."
"TWILIGHT!" everypony yelled.
Twilight stammered to defend her notion. "But we don't know if Pinkie or I are infected yet. We could get by with a few of you having equipment issues."
By this time, the puck was back on the stick of the left wing dummy. The dummy wound up for a shot but the erratically skating Rainbow was able to swoop by and alter the shot. The puck weakly skidded along the ice and ended up on Twilight's stick. As Twilight shot the puck away, her stick nearly crumbled inside her mouth. The wooden stick softened into rubber and flopped at the puck. Twilight looked down in disbelief at the center dummy picked up the puck and took it to the net. The mannequin flicked a quick shot right at Pinkie. She stuck her glove out for the save but couldn't catch it. Like a slippery bar of soap, the puck squirted out of Pinkie's glove and landed next to her. The right wing dummy was waiting there at the doorstep to put in the rebound. With that goal, all the Golden Leafs turned to Twilight with a mix of despair and irritation on their faces.
Twilight sighed in defeat. "I guess we are infected by the poison joke. But how are we going to get a cure in time? We play Fillydelphia tonight!"
"We gotta go to Zecora's! She knows how to fix us up. We gotta go now if we wanna be ready in time!" said Applejack as she began taking off her uniform.
Quickly following Applejack's lead, the Golden Leafs rushed off to the locker room to change before heading out toward the Everfree Forest.
Swiftly galloping through the Everfree Forest, the Golden Leafs arrived at Zecora's house. More panic swept over them as they saw there was no light shining from inside.
"Look at the door! A note!" said Pinkie anxiously.
Twilight ran up to the door to read the note.
"If it is help that you seek, I'll be back in about a week. I am off to Canterlot with my latest remedy invention. To present and sell at the Equestria Pharmeceutical Convention.
Immediately Rarity and Rainbow hugged each other in a panic. "We're dooooomed!"
"Hey! That's my line!" yelled Pinkie.
The ponies began arguing and freaking out. Twilight tried to get in between to calm her friends down but was drowned out by their anguish and sorrow. With horn glowing, Twilight shut her friends' mouths like zippers.
"We don't need Zecora! I think I still remember the recipe from last time. Let's go back to the treehouse, make the remedy, then we'll be on our way."
Staring at Twilight, the others closed their eyes to show calmness. As soon as Twilight unzipped their mouths open, everypony was back to arguing and yelling. Not affording to waste any more time, Twilight galloped off to which the others followed.
Back at the treehouse, Twilight furiously whipped together the remedy with Spike's help. The other ponies were sleeping around the living room thanks to a much needed lullaby sung by Fluttershy when they arrived. Spike's tiny arms weren't enough to swirl the potion so Twilight nudged him aside to take over.
"Sorry, Spike. I've got to get this remedy done quickly. Oh I hope I remembered the right ingredients and amounts!"
"What about your copy of the Supernaturals book?"
"I don't know what happened to it. I looked everywhere and couldn't find it."
"Did you try asking Aloe and Lotus at the spa?"
Completely forgetting the spa ponies had asked for Zecora's recipe, Twilight smacked herself with her hoof. "No, but there's no time now. I have to finish this!"
"You know you could've asked Apple Bloom too, she went and gathered the ingredients for Zecora."
Twilight spun the stirring stick faster. "You're not helping Spike!"
"I just calls it hows I sees it Twilight," said Spike in a fake tough guy voice as he walked away.
A few more twirls and the remedy was done. Twilight jumped inside the pot. She paused to wait for it to kick in but remembered it would be back on the ice where they would notice if it worked. One by one, Twilight rushed around the living room waking up the others and getting them to bathe in their share of the remedy. After drying off, the Golden Leafs left for Ponyville Pond.
While walking toward the players' entrance, the Golden Leafs noticed a crowd of ponies standing around a booth in front of the arena. Upon further inspection, they saw the same golden flowers that had arrived in Trixie's gift basket. With a gasp and an angry growl, the Golden Leafs trotted up to the booth. It was a flower shop selling various plants, including roses, lilies, daises, and the golden flowers. Rarity and Twilight used their magic to pull the golden flowers off the cart and beat them against the ground. The ponies around the cart fled in shock as the Golden Leafs thwarted the new batch of golden plants. Before Twilight and company could leave, three voices erupted from a distance and grew louder.
"What's the big idea?"
"Yeah! What are you doing with our flowers?"
"Get out of here you meanies!"
It was the Flower Sisters; Rose, Lily, and Daisy. They galloped up to the Golden Leafs in a huff. Rarity walked up to them and pointed to the golden flowers.
"These flowers of yours contain poison joke! They look gold, but it chips off to reveal its true self!"
"How dare you! We would never sell poison joke!" said Rose with a scowl.
"Oh yeah? We'll see about that!" yelled Rainbow as she flew up to Rose.
Lily walked to the beaten golden flowers and picked it up by her teeth. She approached the Golden Leafs and spit them out toward them, to which the Leafs repelled in fright.
"See? We told you. They're just our special species of golden flowers our grandmother taught us how to grow. You owe us big time!" squealed Daisy.
Rainbow turned her attention to Daisy. "We don't owe you anything! You-"
Twilight yanked Rainbow by the tail to bring her down. With extreme guilt, Twilight apologized to the Flower Sisters.
"We're deeply sorry ladies. It's just that we were given a bouquet of those golden flowers which turned out to be poison joke. Because of the poison joke, we can't play hockey very well. We're sorry to have destroyed your work and we'll pay you back."
"We don't want your money!" said Rose. "We'll see you out on the ice!"
Turning their noses up into the air, the Flower Sisters closed up their cart and walked to the visitor's entrance to the arena.
The Golden Leafs watched on as their opponents entered the arena. Out of nowhere, Apple Bloom appeared and happily skipped in behind the Flower Sisters. Applejack saw her little sister and was immediately confused and concerned.
"What in tarnation APPLE BLOOM! Y'all get back here ya'hear!"
Apple Bloom didn't hear her sister's call and continued inside. Applejack tried yelling again but it was no use. The Golden Leafs reached their entrance and made their way to the locker room.
Inside the locker room, the Golden Leafs were finishing putting on their gear. An aura of uncertainty and hesitation filled the air as the girls wondered if Twilight's potion was going to rid them of their hockey-related ailments. Fluttershy checked her helmet inside and out for any funny business. She put it on like normal and it fit perfectly. The two minute warning horn buzzed inside the arena, prompting Twilight to address her team.
"Alright girls. We won't know if the poison joke still affects us until we step out on that ice. If there's still some lingering misfortune, then try as hard as you can to overcome your issue. We'll have to learn to play through this adversity."
Rainbow began to raise her hoof until she remembered what Twilight told her at practice. Instead, she just blurted out. "What's adversity?"
"A disadvantage! Now let's get out there and do our best!"
Somewhat inspired but mostly apprehensive, the Golden Leafs took to the ice.
The Ponyville fans were much more vocal and supportive for the second home game since the Golden Leafs were coming off their first victory. A loud "GO LEAFS GO!" chant broke out as the lights went down and the introductions began. Spike introduced the Fillydelphia Flyers first.
The forwards for Fillydelphia from left wing to center to right wing were #33 Caramela, #14 Rose, and #22 Caramelo. Fillydelphia's defense consisted of the remaining Flower Sisters, #3 Daisy and #20 Lily. Their goalie, the third and final Cutie Mark Crusader the Golden Leafs will have faced, was #32 Apple Bloom. Hoping to not only to earn her cutie mark but to prove herself to Applejack, Apple Bloom prepped inside the crease with a purpose. She was more focused and determined than her fellow Crusaders during their performances against the Golden Leafs.
Quickly following the Flyers' emergence onto the ice were the Golden Leafs' introductions. Spike repeated his script from the home opener to lead each Golden Leaf onto the ice. The fans roared louder as each skater was announced. Applejack looked toward the Flyers' end to see Apple Bloom hopping around the crease, practicing her save maneuvers. Applejack swiftly skated down to her with slightly angry visage.
"Apple Bloom! You take off them goalie pads right now you hear me?!"
"I cain't Applejack! I'm the Flyers' goalie! I've been playin' for them for a few games now!"
"Then how come I ain't seen you leave the farm?"
"Ya know all them visits to Aunt and Uncle Orange's that Granny Smith and Big Macintosh have been tellin' you about? Hehe."
"What the hay? Granny and Mac haven't told me anythin'."
Before Applejack could go on, the referee skated over to direct Applejack back to the Ponyville side of the ice. Apple Bloom lifted up her mask and gave Applejack a wink and stuck out her tongue. Both teams set up at the faceoff circle to begin. With the Flower Sisters' anger from the pre-game altercation, Applejack's confusion toward Apple Bloom, and the looming uncertainty about the effectiveness of Twilight's poison joke remedy, the puck dropped to begin the game.
Fillydelphia won the opening faceoff and the Golden Leafs retreated back into their zone, afraid to challenge the Flyer forwards in fear of the poison joke. Daisy passed to Caramelo who took it into the offensive end. Caramelo whipped the puck around the boards to Caramela who was waiting for it. The Golden Leafs collapsed into their penalty kill set-up, allowing the Flyers to pass back and forth and around. Tired of sitting back and letting the Flyers buzz around them, Twilight stepped over to battle Caramela for the puck. After a few pokes and jabs, Twilight won control of the puck and attempted to pass. As Twilight nudged her head to pass, her stick softened up again. The now rubber stick flopped and only pushed the puck a few feet forward. Lily noticed Twilight's struggle and stepped up to steal the puck back. Lily zipped a pass over to Caramelo on the right wing. Caramelo stalled as his sister circled around Fluttershy and broke open in the slot. Caramelo flicked a pass to the center where Caramela one-timed it on net. The puck was too quick for Pinkie as it clanged the bottom of the crossbar and ended up in the net. The Caramel twins met behind the net to celebrate while the Golden Leafs drifted toward Twilight in frustration.
"Fillydelphia goal scored by number 33 Caramela! Assisted by number 22 Caramelo and number 20 Lily."
"Ugh! The potion didn't work! Great job Twilight!" Rainbow sneered.
Applejack tapped Rainbow on the helmet. "Chill out Rainbow. I didn't see y'all try to help!"
"We're doooooooomed!" yelled Pinkie from the crease.
Twilight looked away from her teammates. "I'm sorry everypony. I thought I remembered enough of the recipe. If we lose, I'll take the blame."
"It's okay, dear. We're a team so if we lose, it will be all our faults. Especially Rainbow's," said Rarity as she skated up to Twilight to console her.
Rainbow stepped toward Rarity with nostrils flared. "Hey!"
The referee approached the girls and directed them to center ice for the faceoff. Fillydelphia had the puck once again and entered the Ponyville zone. Rose carried the puck in through the neutral zone and looked for an open teammate. Rainbow was done being hesitant and skated over to try to steal the puck. As Rainbow approached, Rose skated toward the right boards. Rose passed the puck back to the blue line to Daisy which made Rainbow change her direction. However, Rainbow's wings popped out and kept her drifting toward Rose. Both Rainbow and Rose yelled as they crashed into the glass together. The referee blazed over with whistle chirping. The Ponyville crowd began booing as the referee made the penalty announcement.
"Ponyville number 20, two minutes for interference."
Frustrated, Rainbow pushed Rose off of her and skated to the penalty box. The Fillydelphia power play soon began and they peppered shots on Pinkie. Due to Pinkie's slippery pads, the puck squirted back to Fillydelphia after each attempt. Caramela had the puck on the left wing boards looking to make a play. Fluttershy skated toward her but quickly lost sight as her helmet dropped over her face. Caramela stepped aside as Fluttershy crashed into the boards and passed it over to Daisy on the blue line. Daisy slapped a shot on net, through the Golden Leafs' box. As the puck flew toward the net, Rose peeled around from behind the net to the center and tipped the puck in flight. Pinkie shifted across the crease but didn't plan on the redirection. The puck pounded the back of the net for the Fillydelphia power play goal.
"Fillydelphia power play goal scored by number 14, Rose! Assisted by number 33 Caramelo and number 3 Daisy!"
A chorus of booing rung out into the arena air as the Flyers converged upon Rose to cheer for their goal. Twilight received another angry glare from Rainbow who exited the penalty box. Twilight could only look down in response.
Play was back on and finally Ponyville had the puck. Despite her floppy stick, Twilight was able to push the puck to Rarity on the left wing. Rarity entered the zone and tried with all her might to stay balanced and skate down into the corner. It was to no avail as Lily skated around and poked the puck away. As Rarity began to give chase, she fell forward and caught Lily's back skate, causing her to fall. The referee held his hoof up and blew the whistle when Rainbow touched the puck. Rarity got up from the ice and stumbled toward the penalty box while pouting.
"Ponyville number 9, two minutes for tripping."
The other Golden Leafs threw up their front legs in frustration as they found themselves back on the penalty kill. Fillydelphia won the faceoff and went back to work passing around the Golden Leafs' formation. Daisy passed along the blue line to Lily who passed off to Caramela on the left wing. Caramela cycled behind the net where Twilight skated to cut her off. Caramela skated side by side with Twilight behind the net toward the corner. Rose bolted through the center and tapped her stick for Caramella. Caramela scooted the puck between her legs toward Rose who was open to Pinkie's right. Fluttershy approached her but was blinded again, skating wildly toward the net. Seeing Fluttershy coming up on Rose, Caramelo sprinted to the other side of the net and called for the puck. Rose flicked it through the crease, out and away from Pinkie's poke check attempt. The puck arrived right to Caramelo who slammed it in. It was now becoming a familiar sight; the Flyers celebrating a goal, a Golden Leaf dejectedly exiting the penalty box, and the crowd voicing their displeasure.
"Fillydelphia power play goal, scored by number 33, Caramelo! Assisted by number 14, Rose, and number 22, Caramela!"
The Golden Leafs were quickly becoming discouraged. They sadly drifted over for a new faceoff and lost it again. Luckily, there were only a few seconds left in the period. The final horn for the first period sounded like temporary relief for Ponyville as they were outscored, outshot, and outskilled the 1st period.
Amidst heavy booing, the Golden Leafs retreated to their locker room.
Back in the locker room, the mood was grim and deflating. Each pony kept to themselves, especially Twilight who was feeling the weight of guilt and failure pushing upon her shoulders. Seeing the gloomy disposition of her teammates, Applejack decided to take over the pep talk.
"We need ta' stop feelin' sorry for ourselves and get back ta' business. Sure it ain't lookin' pretty out there right now but we still have the talent to get back in this thing! We just need to focus harder to overcome the poison joke. I want each and every one of y'all to stand up, look me in the eye, and promise me your best effort this period!"
Applejack stood in front of Rainbow. Rainbow stared back unenthused and stuck her tongue out. Applejack narrowed her eyes and delivered a headbutt to her friend. Rainbow reeled from the hit and promised Applejack her best effort. Going down the line, the rest of the Golden Leafs made their promise. Twilight stood up and flashed a smile.
"No problem, Twi. We'll get through this."
With their mood a little less dour, the Golden Leafs trotted out for the 2nd period.
The 2nd period started much better for the Golden Leafs. Rainbow won the faceoff to Fluttershy who passed to Applejack entering the zone. Applejack, despite her slow skating, endured a check and kept control of the puck. She went down into the corner with Caramela right on her. Rainbow darted back and forth toward them and grabbed the puck. Rainbow's wings pushed her in all different directions which threw off the Fillydelphia defense. Rainbow was able to fire off Ponyville's first shot which was caught by a leaping Apple Bloom. Apple Bloom gave the puck off to Rose who skated up the center. Rarity veered over to challenge Rose and was stumbling along beside her. As Rarity poked at the puck, her legs gave out. She was able to dive away from Rose without touching her. Rose noticed Rarity's fall and fell herself, acting like she was tripped. The referee blew the whistle and skated over toward the two fallen ponies.
"Fillydelphia, number 14, two minutes for embellishment."
The Ponyville crowd cheered as Rose angrily stood up and argued the call. The referee pointed toward the penalty box and Rose skated to it, still arguing. The Golden Leafs caught a break and were about to begin their first power play of the evening. Rainbow won the ensuing faceoff and pushed it to Twilight. Twilight quickly got to her spot along the blue line and passed over to Fluttershy before her stick turned to mush. Fluttershy watched as her teammates struggled to get to their positions so she fired at the net. Rainbow's wings propelled her into the path of the flying puck. Without noticing the puck, Rainbow's skate deflected it up into the corner of the net where Apple Bloom was too short to jump up and reach. The goal horn blared out and the goal light flickered catching Rainbow off guard. She jumped when she realized the goal and was quickly mobbed by her teammates.
"GOOOAAALLL!! On the power play, number 20, Rainbow Dash! Assisted by number 0, Fluttershy, and number 42, Twilight Sparkle!"
Ponyville was finally on the board and their fans gave out a rare cheer. Rose stormed out of the penalty box as the teams drifted in for the faceoff. Fillydelphia won the faceoff and were in Ponyville's zone. After a few shots on Pinkie, Fluttershy was able to shoot the puck out to Rainbow. Fillydelphia ramped up their physicality and were soon hitting any Golden Leaf who even sniffed the puck. This new strategy overwhelmed Ponyville because they did not have the power or the control to hit back due to the poison joke. Fillydelphia had the puck back in the Golden Leaf zone and were firing away.
With nearly a minute left in the 2nd period, a shot on Pinkie ricocheted all the way down the center of the ice. Applejack had a head start and tried skating after it. Soon both teams were on her tail trying to get the puck. Rose caught up to Applejack and sneakily dug a knee into her side, knocking Applejack off track. Applejack spun into the boards while Rose sprinted back toward the Ponyville zone. Rose was able to deke out Fluttershy and danced around Twilight and her flopping stick. With a head fake, Rose caught Pinkie out of position and drilled the puck into the top left corner for the unassisted goal.
"Goal Fillydelphia! Scored unassisted by number 14, Rose!
All the momentum the Golden Leafs had built up with their power play goal quickly disintegrated. Now down 4-1, they waited for the last fifteen seconds of the 2nd period to run out so they could regroup one last time.
On cue, the horn sounded and a groan rang out from the Golden Leafs faithful. It was time to get back to the drawing board and figure out a way to rise above the poison joke and the Flyers.
Twilight and friends gathered together to devise a strategy that would help them get back into the game.
"How about we whip up some baked bads and send them over to their locker room? I love baking! Applejack, you can help me again!" Pinkie suggested.
Twilight dismissed Pinkie's idea. "Nah, that's not going to work. How about we play bad on purpose so it counteracts with the poison joke? Thus, we'll be good again!"
As the Golden Leafs strategized, the doors to the locker room burst open. A brown hooded pony rushed into the room with a bottle hanging from her neck. With a flip of her hood, the pony was revealed to be a zebra. Zecora had returned and was panting with exhaustion. The Golden Leafs' eyes lit up in extreme delight as they ran to meet her.
"A cry I heard, from you pony folk, about the troubles you received from the poison joke. I was made aware by your dragon friend, so I left to put your strife to an end."
Twilight smiled at Spike and gave him a playful nudge. Zecora distributed her remedy out to everypony as she continued on. The Golden Leafs chugged down the potion and were immediately energized.
"Do you like it? My new medicine drink? It works faster than you can blink. Off I'll go with no need to thank. Now get out there and kick some flank!"
In unison, Twilight and friends shouted their thanks to the departing Zecora. They stood up with immense confidence bubbling up inside them. Anxious, they galloped to the rink for the start of the 3rd period.
Fillydelphia and Ponyville met at center ice for the faceoff. Rainbow and Rose tied up each other with the puck at their hooves. Applejack, in a full, swift stride, swept up the puck and took it into the Fillydelphia zone. Rainbow sprinted straight down the center, wings staying in place. Applejack sniped the pass through Caramela's legs onto Rainbow's stick. Rainbow dangled around a diving Lily and entered the crease. Rainbow skidded to stop, spraying ice flakes into Apple Bloom's mask. Apple Bloom let out a "HEY!" as Rainbow pounded the puck in the net for a very quick goal.
"GOOOAAALLL! Scored by number 20, Rainbow Dash! Assisted by number 88, Applejack!"
Rainbow glided around the net, wildly celebrating as she was no longer under the annoying hold of the poison joke. The crowd sprung to life and cheered the latest goal as the Golden Leafs celebrated at center ice. A loud "GO LEAFS GO!" chant broke out again as the teams lined up for the faceoff. Rainbow won the puck and kicked it to Fluttershy. Fluttershy, able to see clearly, passed the puck to Rarity along the boards. Rarity skated down toward the net but was cut off by Daisy. Rarity spun back around and saw Twilight open at the blue line. Rarity slapped the puck to Twilight who waited for a play to develop. Applejack, who was covered behind the net by Caramela, quickly dashed to the faceoff circle. Twilight snapped a pass to Applejack. With a hard slap, Applejack fired on net. Apple Bloom reached her glove hoof up to catch it, but the force of the shot propelled her into the net. In pain, Apple Bloom dropped the puck inside the net for another Ponyville goal.
Louder cheers exploded from the stands as Ponyville fought back to a 4-3 deficit. Applejack greeted her teammates and exchanged helmet bumps as the goal horn overpowered the crowd. In the Fillydelphia net, Apple Bloom shook her glove off and was holding her hoof with tears welling up in her eyes. Applejack saw this and briskly skated over to her.
Apple Bloom looked up at Applejack and stopped her sniffling. "That didn't hurt! That was nothin'!"
Applejack smiled down at Apple Bloom and planted a kiss on her injured hoof. "It'll feel better now."
"Thanks, sis," said Apple Bloom with a smile and her tears rolling away.
"GOOOAAAALLL!! Scored by number 88, Applejack! Assisted by number 42, Twilight Sparkle! And number 9, the beautiful and elegant Rarity!"
Applejack regrouped with her team and awaited the faceoff. Now a one goal game, the buzz returned to the atmosphere. The flurry of quick goals revived the crowd and now there were yelling and chanting. The puck dropped again and Fillydelphia finally pushed the puck into the Ponyville end. With the puck dumped into the corner, Twilight went after it and arrived before Rose. They fought along the boards until Twilight kicked it free along the boards toward Rarity. Rarity grabbed the puck and headed up the ice. Afraid of another Golden Leafs rush, Caramelo skated in toward Rarity. Leading with his knee, Caramelo landed a crushing hit. Rarity fell to the ice in a heap. Caramelo quickly skated off but was caught by the referee.
"Fillydelphia penalty, number 33, two minutes for roughing!"
The crowd cheered wildly as Caramelo sheepishly entered the penalty box. The fans sitting around the box taunted the Flyers right winger as the Golden Leafs began a very crucial power play. Rainbow won the puck to Twilight who passed to Fluttershy while the others got into position. Fluttershy passed to Rarity on the left wing who passed the Rainbow behind the net. Rainbow passed back to Rarity who swung it over to Twilight. Twilight wound up to shoot, but Rose dove to knock it away with her stick. Rose quickly got up and took the puck for a shorthanded breakaway. Pinkie skated up to cut down Rose's angle. With Rose closing in and Pinkie drifting back, the crowd stood up to watch. Rose tried a deke but Pinkie stayed still. Running out of room, Rose fired a shot toward the top corner. Pinkie raised her blocker hoof and knocked the puck off to the corner. A loud cheer exploded after Pinkie's save as Twilight retrieved the puck. Another "GO LEAFS GO!" chant echoed to the rafters as Twilight carried the puck down the center herself. Seeing the Flyers defense sagging back deep in their zone, Twilight stepped over the blue line and fired a shot with all her strength. Like a bullet, the puck zinged off the bottom edge of the crossbar and landed in behind Apple Bloom who turned around in disbelief.
"POWER PLAY GOOOOOAAAAALLLL!! Scored by number 42, Twilight Sparkle! Assisted by number 33, Pinkie Pie!
Twilight was bowled over by her friends in the corner as the arena hit a fever pitch. The Golden Leafs valiantly fought back to force a 4-4 tie. Caramelo slammed his stick on the ice upon leaving the box and broke it. The "GO LEAFS GO!" chant was louder than ever as both teams reset at center ice for the faceoff. Only one minute remained. Fillydelphia all wore a scowl and gnashed their teeth in determination to take the lead back. The puck dropped and Fillydelphia took control. Daisy dumped the puck into the corner and Rose chased after it with fury. Fluttershy drifted toward the puck but Rose thundered in to take it. Caramela circled along the left wing boards but was covered closely by Rarity. Thirty seconds left. Rose fought off Fluttershy and was met by Applejack. Applejack pried and poked at the puck but Rose was resilient. Finally, Rose passed the puck along the right wing boards to Lily who was at the blue line. Twenty seconds left. Following the play, Rainbow quickly changed her direction and went after Lily. Lily reared her head back for a big shot. Seeing this, Rainbow sprung forward with a dive. As Lily's stick came down on the puck, Rainbow's diving stick pushed the puck out of the way, bouncing it off the boards into the neutral zone in front of the Ponyville bench. Ten seconds left. Lily followed through with her shot but had no puck left to shoot. Rainbow jumped to her skates and bolted for the puck. With time running down, Rainbow picked up the puck and was off on a breakaway. The entire arena rose to their hooves and yelled wildly as Rainbow carried the puck over the Fillydelphia blue line with seven seconds left. Apple Bloom skated out a bit while Rainbow zoomed in.
Rainbow arched her path along the left boards, creating a wide angle. Apple Bloom retreated back to the crease and hugged the left post.
Rainbow started her cut in toward the crease. The crowd's cheering morphed into a deafening yell as Apple Bloom took in a giant gulp.
Coming in on the crease, Rainbow held the puck against the ice with the tip of her stick. Apple Bloom jumped forward to try to poke check it away.
Quickly snapping back her neck, Rainbow tucked the puck in toward her skates as Apple Bloom was left hanging out to dry, sprawled out in the crease.
With a wide open net in front of her, Rainbow focused in and fired the puck.
"SCOOOORRREEEEE!! SCOOOOORRREEEE!! PONYVILLE SCORES WITH TIME EXPIRING!! PONYVILLE WINS!! PONYVILLE WINS!!
Like an explosion, Ponyville Pond erupted with a yell that could carry out all the way to Canterlot. Rainbow Dash spread her wings and flew around the perimeter of the rink, squealing in absolute joy. The other Golden Leafs excitedly skated under her, waiting for her to land. With her wings getting tired, Rainbow hovered down to the ice surface where she was immediately engulfed by her teammates. Many of the fans who wore hats that evening threw them onto the ice for Rainbow Dash's hat trick. Fireworks exploded around the scoreboard as streamers and hats rained from the sky.
On the other end of the ice, the Flyers all snapped their sticks in half and tossed them into the bench arena. Not wanting to watch the celebration, they stormed off to their locker room. The Golden Leafs laughed as they peeled themselves up from their pony pile. They waved to their fans as they skated off toward the locker room.
Back in the locker room, the celebration continued. Pinkie Pie pulled out balloons, party hats, kazoos, and a cake from her stall. After disposing of their sweat-filled uniforms, the Golden Leafs partied and danced the night away.
During the party, Apple Bloom walked in. She ran up to Applejack and gave her a hug. Then Apple Bloom motioned for Applejack to lend her an ear. Apple Bloom proceeded to whisper something to her sister, something important enough to make Applejack yell "WHAT?!" and cut off the party music.
Applejack turned to her friends with urgency in her voice. "Y'all wanna hear what Apple Bloom just told me?"
"What? What's wrong Applejack?" asked Twilight cautiously.
"Accordin' to Apple Bloom, it WAS those danged Flower Sisters who sent the poison joke to us! Apple Bloom said they were upset the poison joke didn't make us lose tonight."
Twilight stepped toward the Apple filly. "Is that right, Apple Bloom?"
"Yes it is, Twilight. They wrote Trixie's name on the card to throw y'all off their trail. I didn't know 'bout it 'til they argued with each other after the game was over."
"A-ha! I just knew it was them! They acted soooo innocent too. I saw right through their little disguise," Rarity said proudly as Rainbow rolled her eyes.
Twilight chimed in. "Well it doesn't matter now. We won and they can't take that away from us. Goes to show you that cheaters never win in the end. We'll just have to keep that in mind when we go to Fillydelphia. Thanks for telling us, Apple Bloom."
"Sure thing, Twilight! Hey! Maybe I got my truth-telling cutie mark!" said Apple Bloom as she checked her flank. The Golden Leafs laughed and cleaned up the locker room.
When Twilight and friends exited the arena, a small throng of fans were waiting for them and cheered when they emerged from the door. Many pictures were taken and autographs were signed. Rarity noticed a few ponies wearing Golden Leafs jerseys which made a wide smile appear on her face. After spending some time with their fans, the Golden Leafs departed for Twilight's house.
At the house, Twilight debriefed them on when their next practice would be and on their next opponent, the Canterlot Equestrians. Twilight stressed the importance of playing Canterlot and how they're Princess Celestia's favorite team and that Princess Luna is their starting center. Exhausted, but cheerful, the Golden Leafs broke for the evening and went home.
The night was a very thrilling and successful one. The Golden Leafs overcame multiple hurdles to gain their first home victory and their first ever winning streak. Their teamwork and determination shone through adversity and allowed them to win together. With their confidence swelling and momentum growing behind them, the Golden Leafs would now turn their focus toward their next opponent, Equestria's team.
To Be Continued
Three Stars from Fillydelphia @ Ponyville
* Rainbow Dash (PGL)
** Rose (FIL)
*** Twilight Sparkle (PGL)
Other Scores Around the EHL (Home Team in CAPS)
APPLELOOSA 2, Manehattan 0
CLOUDSDALE 2, Canterlot 1