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.