A better fate?

My ice hockey team was shorthanded with only 7 guys, but 3 of our best guys. Yet, we still tied 3-3. I had one pretty weak goal that went 5 hole on me. I didn’t have my stick down to stop the low shot so that was a bummer deal. Still, I think I played pretty well considering we only had 7 guys. Maybe the other team thought they deserved to win that game. Either way, a tie is a tie. We were 2 points back of the first place team, and if they win today, we will be 3 points back.

The regular season goes until March so we have time to make up some ground hopefully.

My rollerhockey teams for next season are all finalized. I will be playing for the Dragons on Wednesday/Thursday and the Fury on Tuesday. I knew at the beginning of last season that I would stand a good chance to get into playoffs with both of my teams. This season is more of the same. All I have to do is come out with confidence and a strong effort each game to get the job done.

Fury Hockey!

After a long 2.5 year layoff, I am back with the Fury.

Fury Championship

Last time I was with them, I pitched a 2-0 shutout in the final game to win my 9th championship. Some of the players will be the same. Devo, Huey, Neal, and Pawlik will be on the team with me for a shot at a title next season.

For as much success I had with the Fury the last season I played for them, I will miss the Stick Heads thats for sure.  The team as a whole wants to compete and win and its hard to find a group of players that want that kind of success from one day to the next.

Reflections

Yesterday was a very memorable day. There were some things that I remembered from yesterday that I didn’t mention. The first was the opposing goalie I faced last night, Andres.

When I first started playing goalie, I tried to be as good as other goalies I saw. I pushed myself to beat the people who had beaten me. The first was Randy, who was a damn good goalie. Then it was Joe and Paulie from the Riverfrogs. Then it was Staple, and now its Andres. I have never beaten Andres in a title game before. My record against him in the regular season has always been bad when we are on pretty even teams in terms of skill. Playoffs are even worse for my record when playing against him. Last night, in that title game, things were different and we won.

A few notes though, he wasn’t at full strength. He had a knee injury and missed 3/4 of the season. Admittedly, he was only at about 80%. So what does that mean for me? Well, the result was in my favor this time, but what about when he is at 100%? I guess we will find out down the road.

I will be 36 this year in June and as I get older, the time just flies by. How many more championships can I possibly win? Every playoff series I feel I am fighting more and more to keep the clock turned back. I am fighting to show that I can still play this game. I don’t want it to end anytime soon. The more I show people I can play, the more invites I get to play on teams. The more people ask me to play on their teams. I have built up a lot of respect around the rink and that pleases me. When I was in high school, I never could run the fastest, swim the farthest, or even earn my varsity letter in wrestling. I never was a great athlete, but I wanted to be one. Now, in hockey that is changing for me and all my dreams have came true.

The only goal that sits unfulfilled is winning an ice hockey championship. That will come to me very soon I hope. Hopefully this coming March/April.

Mission Accomplished

I went into playoffs today just happy to get my teams in. Dressing for my first game, all I wanted was an opportunity to compete for a championship. Both my teams were not favored to win it all, but I know if I got a finals game, I would have a opportunity to win.

My first game of the day was with the Dragons as we played Main Street Pub. The Dragons finished #5 in the division, while Main Street was #4, but that didn’t phase the Dragons. They rattled off 3 straight goals in a row, while I didn’t face a ton of shots. In fact, the only 2 goals that beat me were a great shot from the top of the left faceoff circle that hit the top corner of the net. It just wizzed by my left ear. The second goal I let in was a tip in shot from in front of the net with 20 seconds to go in the game. By that time, the game was over by a final of 5-2.

My second game was with the Stick Heads as we played Who Cares. The Stick Heads were 3rd and Who Cares were 4th. This game would live up to its billing. Neal got all 3 goals on our team as we won 3-2, but the game was not easy. We scored the first goal off a nice shot in the slot, then Who Cares tied it up off a shot that hit me in the chest, deflected behind me and into the net. I have no idea how fast it was going, but only that it hit me in the chest. I really thought I had the shot. Neal got his other two goals, with one of them being a shot that rolled off his foot. Some say it was a kick in goal, but I didn’t see it, and neither did the refs. Either way, it was 3-1. Who Cares brought it to within 1 with a shot from my right side that found its way between my body and the post. A good shot by him, and a bad job by me. I should have covered the post better than I did. After that goal, Who Cares really put the pressure on to get the equalizer, but I made some key saves, and got lucky with some shots that just missed the net. Overall, besides that 2nd goal, I played a solid game, and it was good to see us advance.

The big surprise so far was seeing the #2 seed fall to the #5 seed. Which meant that we didn’t have to play another game to get into the finals. Actually, to this point, 5 of the first 7 games of the night were upsets. My Dragons team was one of them.

Third game was the semifinals game with the Dragons as we played the #2 seeded Rabid Wombats. They got a quick goal on me off a shot from the slot. After that, it was a very tight game. I came up with some big saves, but it was the unlucky bounces that got me. Their second goal I dove out for after it hit the backboard, but I missed it, and a forward had a wide open shot at a empty net. Their 3rd goal was more of the same, but I made a mistake on playing the shot. They shot it in from center ice, and I was there to stop it, but it went off me to the side and instead of covering it, I let it sit. A forward had two wacks at it, with me making the first save but the second shot went in. I am still kicking myself over that shot. We lost 4-1, but I cannot fault my team. I know I am a hard ass at times, and I am disappointed when I lose, but my team played very hard. They wanted that game as bad as I did. A few bounces that go our way in that game, and maybe it doesn’t end as badly as it did.

Last game of the night was with the Stick Heads in the finals versus Bluevortex.net. A team that beat us 5-2 in the regular season and went 9-1 while we went 7-2-1. They have a roster that is solid with players that work well together. I knew it would be a tough game, and a bad goal doesn’t help matters. The first goal of the game was a shot from the point that I saw all the way, but I didn’t go down fast enough to stop it as it went five hole on me. We notched the next two goals to take the lead, but then they tied it up off a great tip in front. We got our 3rd goal of the game from great hustle. The initial shot went off the backboards and popped out in front, and Jared beat the defense and put a shot home. At this point, it was 3-2 and I was feeling pretty good about myself with one period to go. They tied it up off a shot from the point that our defenseman in front, and popped out to a wide open forward to put the puck past me. We got another goal with 8 minutes left in the game to make it 4-3, and I once again felt good about myself. We tried to sit on the lead and just cleared the puck, but with under 2 minutes to go, I had another shot go off of me and to a wide open forward to scored to tie it 4-4.

They had a couple good chances in OT, but so did we. I think we had more shots though. Everytime they came toward me with the puck I had a fleeting thought of “aww crap”. It was just one of those thoughts that if I let a goal in now, it would be a waste of a chance for me to win another championship. With about 4 minutes left in OT, we scored. Matt cut in front of the net with the puck, deked around the diving goaltender and backhanded a shot into the open net. I raised my stick to the sky and embraced Matt as the rest of my team jumped on top of me with the customary Stick Heads pile up. It was the Stick Heads 5th division championship, and for a one time only reunion tour, it felt good to win another championship. The last one we won was with such notibles as Boston Billy and Skobrak. Winning that reminded me of them, and especially how much I will miss playing with the Stick Heads. Matt says it was his last game for a while, and I will miss being on the same team he is on. I have had a lot of success with Matt and the rest of the Stick Heads on other teams. Those memories won’t leave me.

Right now, I have #21 championships and I am starting to get a reputation for being a playoff goalie again. I had 4 different people today tell me that during the regular season, I am a so-so goalie. Playoffs though, I am a different player. Maybe I thrive in pressure situations or something. I really need to sleep on this tonight. So many things are running through my head and I am exhausted after playing so many games. I couldn’t even stay out with my friends afterwards. I could only stay for maybe an hour.

More to come later.

It still gets me going

The night before playoffs has always been hard on me in some way.  Last season, I didn’t feel pressure because none of my teams made it in.  The only reason why I actually won a championship last season was because I was fortunate enough to be asked to play for other teams due to their goalies not being able to attend.  This season, its different.

This season, I played on 2 teams and both of them made it.  Right now, all I can think about is how I am going to play tomorrow.  I am upbeat and positive in my thinking.

I turned on Miracle and watched just the part where USA and the Russians play.  I watch the coaches speech before the game and the celebration afterwards.  I remember how happy I felt to achieve my first trophy.  My 3rd trophy was with the Stick Heads and my first going all the way through the playoffs in net.  After Neal scored that goal in OT, I just remember coming out of the net, falling to my knees and raising my hands to the sky.

Now, I come full circle.  The Stick Heads are back, and first season back they are 3rd in the division and ready to make an impact in the playoffs.  My other team, the Dragons, are in a position to make some heads turn.  Every game the Dragons will play, they will be an underdog team.

I promise myself this….no matter the outcome I will accept it and move on.  No more second thoughts about decisions I have made.  If I don’t win a championship this season, I will just come back stronger next season.  I have went 7 straight seasons, almost 2 years, with winning a championship in one division or another.  Eventually, that has got to run out.

I just don’t want it to be tomorrow.

The home stretch

With the playoffs approaching, all my teams look to be in for sure.

Despite the Dragons losing on Thursday last week, it looks like they will clinch 6th place even if they lose which is the last playoff spot. All the teams in the top part of the division are going to be tough games so I am not concerned. Every game was going to be a tough one reguardless of who we play.

Same goes for my Stickheads team. They are going to clinch 3rd overall in the division, maybe 2nd if they get lucky. Every game is going to be tough in that division as well so it doesn’t matter where we sit.

After going through a drought on my teams last season when it comes to playoffs, this season I am back in the fold with 2 playoff teams. Just like last season though, I am relaxed coming into the playoffs this season. I wanted to be in the playoffs after missing them with all the teams I started for last season. I got there. Now, I am going to be faced with the prospect of doing it as a underdog, which I have done before.

I have won 20 rollerhockey league playoff championships ranging from beginnner to advanced. My ultimate goal still hangs over me and that is a ice hockey championship, which I will get a shot at in April.

Right now though, my thoughts are on my next 2 games, and then playoff Saturday. After playoffs are over with, it will be getting together for dinner with friends and teammates. I am looking forward to it.

Coming on strong

With 2 weeks left in the regular season for both of my roller teams, they are heading into their final games strong. The Dragons won their last game by a final of 5-2 against Branns which puts them in a solid 4th place with 2 games to go. My Stick Heads team won their last game with only 5 players total by a 7-3 final. Lastly, my ice hockey team finally knocked off the top ranked team in the division by a final of 5-3.

The last 3 games I have played above average. Especially last night in ice hockey when I got flat out lucky on a few shots. If I learned anything though, its that I have to cover the puck a lot faster. One goal I gave up was one where I made the stop and thought my defenseman would take it up ice or clear it. That didn’t happen. Another time my defenseman had to take a penality to stop a scoring chance. I have to cover those pucks and force a faceoff.

The sore throat and aches that have been annoying me as of late are finally starting to subside. I have been playing much better so I have to wonder why I am playing so well when I don’t feel 100%. Scary thought.

Dragons have 2 games to go with a big one coming tonight. Winning out may mean we move up to 2nd place overall in the division which means a 1st round bye.

Off-Track

Sometimes I just get knocked off track when it comes to my blog. That is a bad thing. My main goal of this blog was to keep up with all my experiences through playing hockey. I know there was a 2 week span where I didn’t play hockey due to the holidays, but so much has happened and I need to update my blog more often than I have.

That being said, here is my update…

My Stick Heads team on Tuesday night is doing very well. With 2 games to go, they are in 3rd place with a 6-2 record. The playoffs are not far away, and this team could do some damage. The key factor will be the hunger of the team.

My ice hockey team on Wednesday night won last night in a crazy 9-8 game. The first period, I was stopping everything except 1 goal which was a great shot in the slot. I made a lot of diving saves on 2 on 1 chances. Then, the 2nd and 3rd periods I couldn’t stop anything. While they did have some good 2 on 1 chances they scored on, a few goals just took weird bounces. One went off my own defensemans skate, popped over my head and landed behind me. Another one went off my blocker, popped up and landed on my shoulder and then rolled in behind me. It was just really weird bounces all night long that went against me. Still, we won the game and it was not in a typical fashion. We were down 8-5 with 3 minutes to go and we tied it up with 16 seconds left in the game with me on the bench. Then, we won the faceoff forward, got a shot on net that trickled through the goalie and another forward just tapped it into the open net with 5 seconds to go.

It was one of those game after it was all said and done that you look back on and just say, “Wow!”. I am more relieved we won than anything else.

Lastly, my Dragons team on Thursday is in a playoff spot with a 5-2 record. With 3 games to go, we control our own destiny. I am looking forward to the game tonight.