I will try to put into words what has happened in the last 72 hours. Not only has it been one of the highest points I have experienced in a long time, but it was also not without its low ones.
Saturday I walked into the arena at 9:00am ready to lead my teams through the playoffs. Since I am not superhuman, I found another goalie to take one of my three teams. Even I can’t play 2 consecutive games.
Game 1 – Team Kontakt vrs The Vipers
I have been goalie of Team Kontakt for a long time. This isn’t our first trip to the playoffs, but the team played very aggressive. After taking a 3-0 lead and playing a defensive game, I had a fluke shot from behind the net deflect off my own defenseman’s skate and go behind me to make it 3-1. About a minute later, one of their forwards picked the top corner to make it 3-2. My team regained the two goal lead with about four minutes left. The Vipers got back within one with 12 seconds to go, but the game was over by then. Gotta give big points to my team for working so hard.
Game 2: Stick Heads vrs Storm
This game was also another 4-3 game. It seemed whenever we took a one goal lead, the Storm was right there to answer back. My confidence never waivered though and when we scored with about five minutes left, I held them off for the win.
Game 3: Statewide Restoration vrs The Rage
I never played this game. I am glad I didn’t either. I didn’t have the energy to take them on after playing two games in the last 3 hours and this would have been a back-to-back game with the Stick Heads game I played previously. My backup goalie strained his groin 3/4 of the way through the game so he went home after the 6-2 loss.
Game 4: Team Kontakt vrs The Fury – Championship Game
I had another back to back game situation ahead of me here. With my Stick Heads team playing right after this one, I got another goalie to step in for me. I really had no choice in the matter. The last thing I wanted to do was lose my second game due to exhaustion.
This game was locked up at 1-1 for the longest time until The Fury scored with 9 seconds left to get the 2-1 win. My team was crushed. They worked so hard and got nothing out of it. I felt so bad like I let them down. Part of me still wonders if I played if I could have gotten them the win. It wasn’t like the other goalie I got to play was bad. He made save after save and did what it took to keep our team in it. I still cried after the game, but I had to shake it off because my championship game was coming up. I needed to be sharp.
Game 5 – Stick Heads vrs Off The Wall – Championship Game
With my eyes still red from crying, I stepped in the goal crease. My confidence was unraveled as my team took a 2-0 lead into the final period. My heart beat with anticipation as the time ticked off the clock. That is when Off The Wall made their move. A scrum in front of the net helped them get one goal. They got a second one off a shot that went top corner. I wish I got that first one, but the second one I had zero chance on. My team took two dumb penalties and gave them a two man advantage for the last two minutes of the game. They didn’t waste that either as they scored to make it 3-2 with under a minute to play.
I am going to stop time for a minute here and tell you how I felt. I felt terrible. I had a sick feeling inside me saying that I blew it. All that work for nothing. I was almost in tears. We were still on the penalty kill for the rest of the period and losing the game. I thought about the previous game and losing like my last team did and thought it was in the cards for this game.
I rushed to the bench after the puck was dropped, but I didn’t even get a chance to get on the bench. WE SCORED! Tied at 3-3! I didn’t believe it. I started practically dancing inside. To overtime we went. Still on the penalty kill though for a little bit. I stopped a great wraparound chance and a breakaway. When I covered the puck, the crowd cheered. I almost broke into tears again, but I tried to hold everything in until the end. About a minute later, we scored on a odd man rush. I charged out of the net flailing my arms. We had won. For the first time, I have led a team through the entire regular season and playoffs to a championship. A milestone for me. I broke into tears as the team piled on me and the guy who scored the goal in OT. Mission accomplished.
It has been a few days since we won, but I already found a song that I heard after we won that symbolizes our victory.
The Calling – Wherever you may go
Now, I am content. The demons inside no longer bother me. The hunger to do it again is still there. However, I have time. I am only 30. I know my time will come again, maybe next season. Now, I have a trophy to my name and I can call myself a champion.