The Bulldogs, infirmary, and everything else

My Bulldogs had a very productive practice on Wednesday. The one thing that I see is a team that wants to succeed. They love to play and it shows. Now, what will our roster look like? That is the hard question. Right now we have players that are on the edge of wanting to play and not wanting too. None of them have a solid answer for us. That is the only thing I am worried about right now. Will the team we put together have some level of success? What will happen to these players if they don’t come back? Will we be able to find replacements at short notice? So far no word, but we do have another week.

My left ankle was bothering me on Wednesday and yesterday so I am going to stay off the skates for the rest of the week. I might lace em up on Thursday for drop in. Otherwise, I need the time. My left shoulder is still bruised and a little sore. I don’t remember a playoff weekend or after a season where I have come out so sore. Maybe it was because I was playing too much. Either that or I just stressed my body out too much. Who knows. I read a couple articles on the internet on reaction time and goaltenders. Apparently, after you turn 30, your reaction time starts to go down. I am 32 now. I find it ironic that I fell in love with this sport in my late 20s. If I started playing sooner, I would have been a better goalie today. Instead, there is part of me that wonders if I am just trying to beat the clock in a sense.

Going to relax a little this weekend. A little over one week until the next season starts.

More thoughts and reflections the next day

I thought I might update my journal with a few more thoughts and reflections on everything that happened the night after playoffs.

First, the championship feels good.  As good as any other championship would feel….or does it?  There is part of myself that still feels a bit empty.  Especially after everything that happened in the Copper division.  The Stick Heads are always going to be a part of me, that is for sure.  Even though the way I was forced out was bad, I still cannot come to hate members of that team.  Maybe I just don’t have enough hate in my heart or maybe I just want to move on in a peaceful manner.  It isn’t worth burning bridges just for this.  It is a small world, where burning bridges isn’t the way to go.  I may play with these people again someday, or maybe my actions today will speak louder than words later.

I am proud of what I did last night.  I took a team that was predicted to lose in the finals and pull out the upset.  I made the timely saves when I needed to.  My team did the rest of the work and we secured two key victories and the championship.  What better ending could I have asked for?

After those games last night, I didn’t want to admit that I earned that championship.  Yes, it was a team effort, but I wouldn’t even give myself credit where credit was due.  I guess I have never saw myself as someone who took that credit.  It is a team effort out there.  I have to start giving myself more credit.  Yes, it is a team effort, but I was a vital cog in that machine.  With my 8th championship under my belt, I have to acknowledge the fact that I am a good goalie.

I have heard that my game consists of flashes of brilliance at times.  I really don’t know how to answer that.  Do I play above my level at times?  Yes I do.  Do I play below it?  Of course.  It is all part of being a rec league goaltender.  The good goaltenders that play well EVERY SINGLE time are the ones playing pro hockey.  Me?  I am not one of those people.  I am out to play for the pleasure of playing.  I want to win, no doubt about it.  However, I also want to have fun.  If it isn’t fun to play, then why play?  Why spend time getting better if it is not fun?  Thats the point.

From this point on, I am going to give myself a little more credit, but not much more where people think I have a huge ego.  🙂

Now, I have a few weeks off.  I am going to play drop in once a week for the next few weeks until the leagues start back up again.  To be honest, I need the time off.  My body is still hurting after those games, my left shoulder is bruised and sore, and I need the downtime.  I will be ready once the leagues start back up again….you can bet on that.

And from the ashes…

It was another unforgetable day, but one I NEVER expected to end the way it did. The story may suprise you. I know I was amazed when it was all over. I am sure in the coming years when I read this entry, it may still suprise me.

My Vintage Painting team was ousted in the first round by a 2-1 score in OT. The Ionia Skateland team that beat us went on to lose in the finals, but they really play hard and deserved to win our game. I had no regrets at the end of that game. My undefeated Bulldogs team played next and we lost to the Komets who went on to be the champions by a 5-4 final score. I really can’t say I played badly in either game. I just feel I didn’t play up to par. A goalie only goes as far as his team though.  I know I can’t do it alone, and the other teams I faced today just wanted it more than we did.

Upon playing my last game, I stuck around the rink just shooting photos and was considering taking off for the day. That is when the Reforms in Copper came calling. The Reforms consist of players I haven’t played for before, but they know me well. Apparently, their goalie chose not to play today and were pretty much told to find someone else. They asked me and I accepted. I really didn’t think much of it to be honest. The Reforms were a good team, but in order to make our mark in these two playoff games, they needed to play intense hockey.

Our first game we played against the Pole Hittas. (Side note story, this team got its name due to the face one of their team ran into a pole with his car apparently.) This team had one dominant player and stopping him was REALLY rough.  He hit me up for 2 goals early and the team was up 3-0 at one point. My Reforms team came back to score 4 unanswered, while I came up with some timely stops. The save I made that impressed everyone including myself was a diving across the crease to save a puck from going in. I just tipped it away with my stick. However, that dominant player once again came up with a key goal to tie the game. The Reforms notched the game winner in OT to bring us into the finals.

My finals game with the Reforms was not going to be easy. Standing in front of us was a Maly’s team who lost only one game all season.  As some of you visitors to my blog know, the Stick Heads cut me due to the fact I lost to Maly’s. I knew I would need to play the game of my life to win that game. For some reason, I put on my Stick Heads jersey. I have no idea why I did at the time. Maybe it was to signify that I played in Copper or the fact that if we did win the game, I could have my picture taken with the trophy with my ex-team’s jersey on. Maybe it would be kind fitting when the Stick Heads looked at the photo and they would notice the jersey. I know, that is kinda childish….but at the time, I seriously didn’t know why I reached for that jersey.

Anyway, Malys came out firing right out of the gate, but the Reforms notched the first two goals. Then, Malys tied it up on a pass to the opposite side and tap in, and then off a rebound chance.  The Reforms got back up in the game by a 3-2 score with under 5 minutes to play. I skated to the bench to tell my team how good they were doing and if we played the last 5 minutes of this game hungry, we would skate out of here champions. The performed, I got some timely saves, and we notched an empty netter to clinch the victory and championship. It is my 8th trophy, and I am proud to get one. My team, the other team, and my friends were all giving me props. I was just happy to have actually done something positive. After my Bulldogs and Vintage Painting team lost, I thought that I was done until next session. Looks like that is what I get for thinking.

Now that I have all these things down, I need to sleep. I was up at 7:00am this morning and it is now 1:22.  My eyes are heavy, my contacts are bothering me, and I am so tired. My body aches a little and I can’t wait to slip into bed tonight after a hot shower.

Pumped!

I am ready for playoffs tomorrow.

Another run to bring myself up to….hopefully….8 or 9 championships by the end of the night.  Now begins the point when I get out of work and I have to keep my mind off the games tomorrow.  Otherwise, it will be a long night tonight.  I want to get my rest so I am ready.  I remember the last night before playoffs that I spent half the night awake in bed and not able to sleep.  I was awake far before the alarm went off and didn’t eat much for breakfast.  By the end of the day, I had two trophies in my hands and spent 12 hours that night in bed sleeping.  I was so physically exhausted after it was all over.

Tonight, it is a time of rest.  My brother is coming over and we are going to see a movie and just relax tonight.  Tomorrow, my journey begins once again….

Everything that has a beginning…

Every story has an ending. Every dynasty has an endpoint. My end came last night when the final horn sounded and my Stick Heads bowed out of the playoff race for the season. More importantly, it was my last game with the team. By the end of the night, certain players were bitching at each other for one reason or another. A lot of it was member fustration. Some are upset at the way I was treated. Others just wanted to go out and have fun for our last game and some wanted to be serious. Me? I wanted to leave a positive impression on the team. I know this other goalie they are bringing in, and he has a great attitude and is probably a little better than I am. Deep down inside, I feel horrible because of the fact that I may have played my last game for a team that I dedicated myself to. Everyone on that team, even though things ended the way they did, I still feel I have ties to.

After the game was over and the locker room cleared out, I shed probably my last tears. This chapter in my life was over. Now, I just wanted to get on with the next chapter in the book.

I need to deal with not only this sadness, but anger I am feeling now. I am going to get this out right now because if I don’t it is going to eat me alive. While I have strong ties to the members of that team for the most part, I just don’t know who to trust in that situation. The captain said that some members of the team were bitching about me. Who was bitching? Why didn’t members of the team stick up for me in that situation instead of waiting until our last game? So now, I feel anger towards some of the leadership on that team for chucking me off for someone else who is a little better than I am. Did I give them reason to look for someone else? Were we getting blown out every game? Did I not do a good job.

I am going to have to find a way to deal with these feelings that are jumping around in the pit of my heart and stomach.

The first step to healing will be tonight when I play a friendly game in my beginner league. I need to get my mind of this…distraction.

Is today the day?

It all doesn’t come down to one game, but this is definitely a milestone date for me. The Stick Heads will either be eliminated before the game starts, eliminated when the game ends, or playing on Saturday in what will most likely be my last game with them. I was up last night thinking about what could happen today. Will today be my last game as a Stick Head? Will the team rally around me in my last game? I have heard that some members of the team are standing by me in this drama. I don’t know if they are standing by me or just trying to make me feel better. To be honest, with the Bulldogs chances of moving up to Copper next session and this feeling inside that makes me feel “pitched aside”, I don’t know I would come back even if I was offered.

Tonight will decide a lot on what I am going to write to my team after this session is over. Part of being a webmaster of the team website allows me the flexibility to write what I think. I am not going to slam anyone on the team too badly. Mainly, I want to tell everyone how I feel on the matter. There will be some criticism, you can bet on that.

However, there will be a lot of positives. I am not going to hold a grudge toward anyone for too long. I don’t want to burn any bridges when I make this transition. Mainly because you do that, and you don’t get to play with any of these people again. This is not worth outing myself over. Even though it was a team that was developed around a core of players. I was one of those core players.

It was once told to me that I needed this team. I also heard that some members of this team REALLY needed it. I have to agree with that statement with one small change. We really didn’t need this team…but it was nice to be on it for as long as I did. I still have my most fondest memories with this team and this instance isn’t going to affect those memories.

I am going to show up to the rink early to not only have something to eat with some of my team, but to watch the games. I should know by 8pm if we are eliminated or if we have a chance. Then, in this rollercoaster ride, I will know by 11pm if we have a playoff opportunity. I want to make playoffs. I want to go one more round with this team I have come to love, and most recently, hate.

I suppose there are much more important things to keep in perspective. If this is the only thing that causes me pain in the next year, then I have a lot to be thankful for.

10-0

I really didn’t have any doubts in my mind, but my Bulldogs finished the season 10-0.  It is my very first undefeated season, and an exciting one at that.  I have already conditioned myself to play the same way next week in playoffs.  Why?  To be honest, I am not afraid of failing.  If we get ousted in the first round or in the finals, everyone will say it was a wasted season.  People will say that 10-0 doesn’t mean squat.  To me, it doesn’t matter what people think.  This has been a great ride, and my only regret was not giving the Bulldogs more love during the season.

Speaking of love loss, I still haven’t lost it all for the Stick Heads.  Today may have marked a huge step in my movement away from that team though.  The Bulldogs have been considering a move up to Copper division after this 10-0 season.  Although, we haven’t found the bodies yet, I think our team is all in for a move up.  We have certain people interested in playing if we move up, and I have started asking a few others.  In essence, this looks like it is going to work out.  What does that mean?  Well, my time with the Stick Heads is all but over for next session.  I never say never again, but I can tell who my friends are and the Bulldogs back me.  How successful will we be?  I have no idea.  This is a new start for me, and I am expecting some growing pains in that intermediate division with a new team that is not used to the competition.

Now, I have a full weekend off, and then it will possibly be my last game with the Stick Heads on Monday.  I have decided to play for Tenacious D the game before.  They deserve a fighting chance to slip into the playoffs.  I am going to give them that opportunity.  As for the Stick Heads, I will know by 8:00pm if we have a chance at 10 or not.

Right now, all I am thinking about….is Mission Accomplished.

Memories of good things past


It was good times like this that I reflect on.  My last Stick Heads championship photo stuck out at me while I was going through my digital photos.  Looking upon this photo makes me think about last session and how happy I was.  Today, although my last game may be next week, I still long for those days to come again.  Yes, I have been tossed away.  However, if there is a change in the leadership of the team, I would come back.

Today, I got a call from my Bulldogs team captain in Brass.  He explained he is looking up toward a move into Copper….the same division as the Stick Heads.  While I see that move up as a possiblity, I just don’t see us being competitive in that division without help.  Sure, we could get a few higher level players to step in to help out, but I like the current makeup of our team right now.  I said I am all for it.  The Bulldogs are the closest thing I have to family now in a hockey sense.  They have treated me with nothing but respect and there is a definite connection here.  Before, I didn’t see it.  Sometimes, it takes an event like this whole Stick Heads thing to make you look at the big picture.  That picture is not as gloomy.

Writing a new chapter

After the Stick Heads win on Monday, we still sit in a position where we can sneak into a playoff spot, However, the big downer will be the fact that we will lose the tie breaker unless one of these upper level teams lose. I know anything can happen, but I just don’t know what will happen. When it all comes down to it, my last game with the Stick Heads may be next week Monday. The shock of the situation is still setting in, and I still don’t know how I will react to the situation when it is all over. Will I shed more tears? Will I keep taking this personally?

I am prepared to write a new chapter in my life right now. I will no longer put the Stick Heads ahead of my other teams. I have mentioned my Bulldogs in beginner/intermediate, but I haven’t said that we are 9-0 so far this season. 19 goals against in 9 games so far. I am aiming for a 10-0 season this Friday and there is no reason why we should be denied. What concerns me more is the fact we have an off week next week and our opponents have not been very tough the last few weeks. Will we hit a lull and lose out in the first round of the playoffs? Stay tuned!

Lastly, I have my Vintage Painting beginner team. We qualified for the playoffs in either 1st or 2nd place, and I will be in net for their playoff run. This after about 7 games playing out with them and 2 games in net. With me in net, I am so confident we will go all the way it isn’t even funny. It isn’t underestimation….just confidence. This team has the tools and weapons to do damage. If they show up to play, we will win it all. I will be ready…

Simply amazing

Well, after the alcohol last night, I woke up to the same issue at hand. Nothing has changed and my goal remains the same.

With the strong win last night of the Stick Heads, we are in a virtual tie for a playoff spot. Even if we win next week, we are not in for sure. The tie breaker is going to hurt us and may put us back down out of playoff contention. To be honest, that doesn’t phase me.

I have made the decision that unless there is a major movement in the leadership of this team, this is my last session with the Stick Heads. I have had many great moments with this team and I owe them a lot. However, I don’t owe them a single thing when it comes to my integrity or work ethic. I have given it my all every game I have played with them. To be replaced is a low blow in my opinion. Espeically over the crappy reasons they gave me.

The problem that I see out of this whole situation is not only leaving to get on a new team, but what team will I find? As is typical, I am going to have to work my ass off with lower tier teams to get myself back up with a contending team. The Stick Heads have always gelled well. Same with other teams I have been on. However, there are some teams that I have been lucky to get a couple wins with. There are ups and downs to look forward to that is for sure.

The main reason why I was so upset last night at the situation is I guess when it came down to it, I lost something very dear to me. Not as dear as my family or my job, but something else. Here is a team that I have worked out hard for. I have experienced a lot of happiness and heartbreak with this team. It has been a long road, but a fun ride down that road. Now, when you see the dead end coming, and no roads to get off on, eventually you have to stop the car and look in your rear view mirror. In that mirror, I see the success of lifting 4 trophies with this team. I see my team piling on top of me after our first trophy win and straining my back so bad that I couldn’t walk well for a few days. It was worth it though because we beat a team that had more skill than we had. I don’t have to look at my memories to remember what that first one was like. Same with the other three….

Teams were not meant to be together for so long. It seems that some members get fed up and move on. Maybe people get upset or fed up with the way things go on a team long term. For me, I like stability. I like being wanted. I like the fact that I know where I stand. Those three things went up in smoke for me in the span of 12 hours and made me feel so empty inside.

I know I can compete in intermediate or advanced league hockey with the right team in front of me. Finding that new team will be the next challenge….