I am taking the time to write this on Monday instead of Saturday night or Sunday just to let it all soak in as to what I have accomplished.
I slept like a baby on Friday night. That is very unusual being as that I normally have a very hard time sleeping before playoffs. I had 3 teams that were in and I knew it was going to be a hard day. It got even harder when I found out that another goalie was out with injury and I would have to play for 4 teams. I have always considered myself to be in good shape, but I knew I would get pushed to the limit
Groot Builders title defense would start against Team Civgood. Groot notched the first 3 goals of the game very early. Civgood didn’t back down either, even with a very short bench. Groot went on to win by a final of 6-2 to advance to the finals.
Dekleine Builders also advanced over the Beavers by a 6-2 final. Both goals scored against me were glove side goals. I dropped my glove on one of the shots and it hit the top corner of the net. The second one I had my glove up on but didn’t get a piece of it as Brandon hit the top part of the net. Both goals were scored by the same guy. As for Dekleine, they really took advantage of their opportunities and was impressed with their passing and their overall play.
I skated out for about five shifts for my Dragons team as a forward. I really had some energy, but with two games done and I knew I had 3 in a row coming up with a possibility of getting a 4th game, I didn’t play as much as I wanted to. My worst bruise of the night came during this game when I was hit in the left hip by a shot from the point when I was driving to the net. That bruise still hurts today.
I started my 3 games in a row with Biohazard, a team I didn’t play for all season but here I was in the finals getting my shot, vrs Affirmative Action. Biohazard took the game 6-1 and I didn’t face many major chances. The defense was solid as Biohazard cycled the puck around and really just outworked the other team.
Groot Builders was the one team I wanted to repeat for. If not for myself, but for everyone else on the team who came back to play again. For Justin who is leaving the country for half a year here in about 2 months. For Dave who has never won a championship before. It was something that I just felt the need to accomplish. That dream didn’t get off to a good start though as Who Cares lept out to a 2-0 lead in the first 3 minutes of the game. One shot was an opportunity when a forward came out from behind the net and backhanded a great shot to the upper corner of the net. The second goal came on a 2 on 1 where my defense didn’t pick up the second player and he scored an easy one timer goal. Other than those two mistakes by the team, that was all they got in the game. Justin and Matt each notched 2 goals a piece, with 1 an empty netter as we repeated as champions with a 4-2 victory.
Dekleine Builders was the last of my 3 games in a row and it was against the Fury. Dekleine finished 3rd in the division while the Fury were first so I knew it would be a tough game. Dekleine got on the board first, but it was the fury who got the next two. One of those shots I left the post on and their forward threaded the needle between my side and the post. The other goal was a very nice two on one shorthanded goal I didn’t have a chance at stopping. Dekleine came back to take a one goal lead with less than 5 minutes to play, but the Fury came back to tie it up on a power play. With the game tied 3-3, Dekleine’s shot blocking was really noticable. They really worked hard to make sure their defense couldn’t get anything through. I made a couple saves, but my defense really came through at a key time. The game winning goal fell into place in slow motion. We were pressuring in the offensive zone. Their defense tries to pass the puck up for a fast break. Our defense steals the pass, and passes it down to our forward. Forward shoots the puck and it goes off their own defenseman’s stick and into the top corner of the net. Game was over. As much as I was happy we won 4-3 in OT, I really felt for the Fury. Here was a team that got a great bounce against me in regulation of the regular season to beat me 4-3. Now, in a title game, we got a bounce against them. You could call it karma or luck. I just am going to call it hockey. Why does one team hit 2-3 posts while another one hits the post the same number of times and it still goes in the net? Its hockey.
I had a couple hours to rest before my last game of the night which was the title game of Biohazard against….the Dynamo? Yes, the Dynamo. A house team that was 4th in the league that upset the Phantoms, a team that lost 1 time during the season. Maybe they underestimated the Dynamo? Who knows. All I know is that we were playing them for the championship and it was going the Dynamo’s way early. Biohazard got the first goal of the game, but Dynamo got the next three off of either breakaways or odd man rushes. With the game 3-1 and half the game gone by, it didn’t look good. Biohazard then woke up and got 4 goals in the last period to win 5-3.
The hardest part of the night was playing 3 games in a row. That included two championship games in a row. As much as I asked other goaltenders to play for me for one of the games, I felt bad because if they did play, my teams would probably be upset. My teams would want me playing even if I was totally exhausted. I have given up games before only to see us lose and then I am really upset with myself for even doing it. I guess things worked out for the best overall, but if I lost one of those championship games, then I would have heard about it from everyone else at the rink for a long time to come. Probably about how tired I was and I should have given the game up to another goaltender. The crappy part was, no one else wanted to play but me.
The thing I will remember most about this day was the fact that I was playing for a total of about 5 hours and when I was in goal, I was unbeaten. Partially because of my teams in front of me, but also because of my ability to stop the puck, and a little luck. Back about 2-3 years ago, I won two championships in one playoff day and played 5 games. I thought that was the best day that I would have in playoffs. Now, I have three to my name in a day which brings my total up to 13 championships. The first thing I thought was, unlucky number? I don’t think that way normally, but the last time I won two I had to wait a few season before I got back in the winners circle again in the playoffs.
Whats next for me? Groot will return, but with two of their defensive horses gone, they won’t be as strong. Dekleine will return in January after a 2 session break. My Dragons team is returning with me skating out once again. Biohazard asked me to be their goalie for the season coming up. The opportunity to play with those guys again sounds very attractive and their chances to repeat look very good. I guess we will see how I feel in the next few days.