Number 20

For the first time in many years, I thought I would be sitting at home for Saturday playoffs instead of playing in them. As it turns out, I was playing and playing very well for that matter. Day started at a bright and early 6am as I got up, did the daily routine, packed quickly, and drove to breakfast. The usual crowd showed up, ate, and talked about just about everything. My first game was at 7:45 so I ate and left pretty fast.

My first game of the night was with the Penguins as they took on the #8 seed Ionia Skateland team. The game was deadlocked at 0-0 until the 3rd period when Penguins scored to go up 1-0. They added an empty netter to win 2-0. I played very well this game and even came up with a nice glove save in the 3rd period to retain the one goal lead.

Next game I played for the Dingos as they took on the 3rd seeded “Da Bears” team. I was not as strong in this game as I gave up a couple goals early, one of them was not a very good shot and we were down 2-0 early. Dingos came back to take the lead, but the Bears tied it back up with 2 minutes to go. Dingos scored with less than a minute left and we went on to win 4-3. I played stronger as the game went on, but I didn’t play as well as I did in the first game.

The Penguins second round game was against the Dragons and it was once again a very good game. I let in the first shot on net in the first minute of the game off a nice shot in the slot that went five hole. Otherwise, I kept them off the board for the rest of regulation. We scored to tie it up late in the 3rd, but bad penalities and a frustrated team that was being outhustled really added into their demise. The Dragons scored a few minutes into OT to win the game off a nice 2 on 1 passing play. I just couldn’t get over in time to get the shot. Either that or I went down to quickly when I got over. Either way, it was the only game I would lose and 2-1 at that. Anytime a goalie lets in only 2 goals like that in rollerhockey, you have to figure if your team can put a few in, the game should be won. We just didn’t do that. Hats off to the Dragons who outhustled us for that win.

Last game of the night I played for the Dingos in the finals and that game was a story of bounces. For us, we got some very good bounces but they didn’t come at the beginning. First shot of the game by the opposing #1 seed Ski Town Shockers team went off my glove and fell behind me into the open net. Otherwise, we started taking advantage of our chances and good fortune. One goal we had went off their own defenseman’s skate. Another we got went off the post and in. We were up 5-2 in the game and I stopped a point blank chance. The forward tried to deke around me and I fell on the puck and smoothered it just as he shot it. It was a very fortunate save. Then, as if karma was biting me in the ass, I let in a weaker shot from the right side that knicked the far side of the net to make it 5-3, but that was as close as they got. It was my 20th playoff championship, a true milestone.

Overall, my day was outstanding. I went 3-1 on the day. My only loss I let in 2 goals, with 1 coming in OT. The team I won a championship with I didn’t play my best game and we still won. If you let in 8 goals in 4 games, there is usually a lot to be happy about. I was very happy with my performance.

Afterwards, we all went out to BW3s and had a few drinks and food. We watched most of the Michigan football game before I just had to bid my friends farewell and head home. I watched a little of the Wings game before I just had to get some sleep. at about 11:30. Wife woke me up at 8:30 and I was still exhausted. We worked on a lot of small projects around the house and visited my parents. All the while I was sore and exhausted. I wanted an extra couple hours of sleep, but I didn’t get that until I got home around 4pm and crashed for two and a half hours. I felt much better after that.

Today, I feel even better. The soreness in my joints is almost gone. By Wednesday I will be ready to play some ice hockey. It will be my only game in 2 weeks as I will be gone all week next week on vacation in Dallas, TX.

Next season in rollerhockey will be a big change to me. I will not be playing for any of my old teams. The Stickheads will be returning again and the Dragons on Wednesday/Thursday night invited me to play with them. I am excited about the prospect of returning in net for both of these teams in a few weeks. All I hope for is a strong return in net.

24 hours later

About 24 hours ago, I was sitting here knowing I would miss the playoffs for the first time in over 3 years with all my teams. Now, I am in a situation where I am going to be playing for a couple teams tomorrow. As I know in playoffs, every team has a shot. I just have to come out and play strong for both teams.

The Dingos are in Beginner and sitting in 2nd place.

The Penguins are in Beginner/Intermediate and sitting in 1st place.

I could be playing as few as 2 games or as many as 5 on Saturday. Thats if no other teams call me for games. I feel very honored to be playing for these teams and all I want to do is go out there and leave a very positive impression upon them and play a very solid game in net.

There is part of me that feels as if I don’t deserve to play on Saturday though. Maybe its the fact that I slumped this season and just started to turn it around near the end. My sense of accomplishment died when my last team got eliminated on Tuesday night. It will be important to shake those feelings and thoughts loose so I can play solid on Saturday.

Speaking of my teams….

My Dekleine Builders team finished without a fight in a 10-3 loss. I was playing pretty well, but my defense wasn’t helping me at all. In the end, getting beat 8 times out of 10 by much more skilled players just wore down on them in the end. My confidence was low for 4 weeks straight and I played very poorly. I feel their fustration.

Then, in ice hockey, it was famine as I pitched a 8-0 shutout as my team continues to dominate. We are in the process of moving to a new night or changing our team around to suit the league we play in. While I like to win, I don’t like watching every game like a spectator and getting more shots in warmup than I do in a game.

The streak is over

After almost 3 years of playoff teams, my streak came to an end tonight with a Builders 5-4 loss. This will be the first season in many years that I have not had a team make playoffs at Rivertown Sports. I am bummed out. Playoffs have been a staple for me, and this season, it won’t be and that disappoints me. I think I am also concerned how people will react to me. I have had so much success, and here I am at a low point.

The key is for me to rebound next season.

Expectations

At the beginning of the season before I played my first game for Howies Hockey Tape, I expected we would win most of our games and win the championship. Two games into the season, we started 0-2 and I was just hoping to do well in playoffs. After going 2-1 in the playoff round robin, I was just hoping to get into the final game. With the finals done, and Howies winning 10-4, I have claimed my 19th divisional championship. The season was not without its challenges though.

All season, I feel that I was trying to live up to expectations. I wanted to play better than their main goalie did. I thought that I would have one season to really outdo him. I expected that I would march through the regular season and into the playoffs as the #1 seed. As it turns out, I didn’t play very well all season. I allowed 71 goals in 10 games, which is about 7 goals per game. The stats say I finished with a .755 save percentage which was also an awful stat for rollerhockey. While the season did end the way I wanted it to, it has been a very long season for me. I just did not live up to my performing standards. A lot of that had to do with the 4 weeks I was playing horrible last month.

The championship game was closer than the score may have looked. The Phantoms had a 4-3 lead at one point in the 2nd period. They took advantage of our defensive breakdowns while we shot away on their goaltender and just had fits trying to score. Howies then switched over to play more defensively and be aggressive on D. That worked wonders as I didn’t give up a goal for the rest of the game. The Phantoms goalie was subject to a lot of shots, and I could even tell his confidence seemed a little shaky. The Phantoms defense really started to go back a lot more and be aggressive a lot less as the game wore on. All in all, it was just a dominating performance by Howies. They passed better, they worked harder, and they wanted the game more than the Phantoms did.

It feels good to beat the Phantoms again. They had my number a few times during the season. They had my number in the round robin playoff. They didn’t have an answer for Howies in the finals though. As for me, I felt like I was just along for the ride. I came up with some good saves, but I didn’t make any huge stops that were game saving.

My one season stint with Howies is over, but I am happy that the season ended the way it did. It ended with us in the winners circle and me 1 championship shy of 20.

If I do miss the Rivertown playoffs this season, which it does look like will happen, I will still feel empty but it won’t be a total loss. To rebound and come up with a victory in a playoff game today really boosts my confidence.

Clarity

My Tuesday team still has no clarity when it comes to the playoff picture. Even after a big win where we outhustled and outplayed a team that is 3rd in the standings, our situation is still in limbo. We are still out of the playoff picture, but could sneak in if things go right for us. Then again, we could be on the outside looking in. Either way, we have a shot.

Tonight, we played as a team in a 10-4 victory. We took a 8-0 lead, and had to play 1 player down for the last half of the game. I admit, it may be too little too late, but at least we keep our hope alive.

As for our Sunday league, I got word that we would be put in the finals game on Sunday against the Phantoms at 5pm. There is only one thing I thought after that was announced. Its my game to lose. I am convinced if I play my game and play it well, we will win that game. I believe we have the team to do it. I can put all the bad goals and bad starts beind me by playing one game well and icing a championship.

I realize it won’t be easy, but I am just brimming with confidence. About 2 weeks ago, I had none. After a few weeks with some solid games, I am starting to regain my form. Tomorrow’s test will be a key for me.

Oh, and my ice hockey team is still in limbo too…..

Toronto Maple Leafs Jason Blake is battling a rare form of leukemia.

The Toronto Maple Leafs announced on Monday that forward Jason Blake is battling a rare form of leukemia. “This morning I shared with my teammates news that I was diagnosed with Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia,” Blake said on the team’s website.

This is a bummer. While I am not a tried and true Toronto Maple Leaf’s fan, I do wish Jason Blake the best. He used to play for Ferris State back in his college days. Cancer is a word that strikes fear into everyone’s heart. I hope he pulls through like his statement says he will.

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In limbo

I have 2 teams in limbo right now.

My Wednesday ice hockey team could still stay together if they move to Thursday, if a team moves down to our level OR if they find a spot for us. Right now, no word…

At the same time, my Sunday team is in limbo. After losing to the top team in the league last week, we won tonight moving our playoff round robin record to 2-1. The championships are next week Sunday. The top 2 teams make it. The team we beat finished 2-1 as well. So, who is going to make it into that championship game? It should be us because we beat them in head to head competition. At the same time, it could be by some other stat, but I think head to head should be the tiebreaker. Thats just me though.

Overall, I played decent today. First goal was my fault since I didn’t cover my angles very well. However, my team bounced back and we took a 5-1 lead. We won the game 9-4.