Gotta take the good with the bad

It has been a week since my teams bowed out of the playoffs on Saturday, and over a week since that bad ice hockey championship game. Time heals all wounds, but the bad memories remain. I am starting to get the itch back to start playing again though. I am eager for the opportunity to get back to being a champion this season in rollerhockey. I am also eager to getting back to the championship game in ice hockey. I want another opportunity.

In the last week, I have enjoyed the Stanley Cup playoffs a lot. Every night, there are games on TV and I am taking the opportunity to enjoy the games.

While I have been enjoying the hockey action, I have drifted away from World of Warcraft. The way I feel right now, I just need the break from the game. I am concentrating on Eve Online, Civilization 4 and other Steam games. In the next few weeks, I will probably be purchasing a PS3.

A good day

Playoff saturday did not end the way I wanted it to, but it was still a very good day.

My first game of the day was with the Dragons as we played Ionia Skateland. I had a great game, a couple diving saves, and my defense really played very well in front of me as we won 1-0. It was a hard fought victory for us, and I was pleased with our performance.

I subbed in for the Lightning because their goalie didn’t show up for my second game as we played the Rabid Wombats. The Wombats are always a tough team. The Dragons beat them in the regular season this year because they lost one of their better players. Otherwise, they are a team that only loses 1-2 games a season normally. Today, I came out with a 5-4 win. The Lightning and Wombats traded leads through the game. I got beat on three shots over my glove or upstairs and a bad rebound chance that got me through the 5 hole. Overall, an average game but I thought I played better my first game.

The Fury was my 3rd game of the day, and we got through Who Cares by a final of 5-1. I thought we played very well and I had another strong game. The only shot that beat me was a power play goal off a deflection in the slot. That is about all I can hope for.

My last two games did not go the way I wanted.

The Dragons lost 5-0 to the Penguins, the champions of the division. It really wasn’t a game as the Dragons just got hammered. I had some good saves, but there were shots that I just didn’t have much of a chance on. Even Dan, the opposing goalie, said I was shelled out there.

The Fury, the team I wanted to win a championship on, lost in the finals by a final of 3-1. I played well enough to win the game, but the Fury just couldn’t score on Mike, the opposing goalie. I got beat on a nice top corner shot, a breakaway, and a goal I probably should have had that hit me and went into the net. That 3rd goal was the only one that I faulted myself for.

So, for the first time in 8 sessions and 2 years, I left Rivertown Sports without a playoff championship. I knew it would come to an end eventually, and the way it ended on Saturday didn’t surprise me. You never want it to end though.

Next season I will be back for the Dragons and the Fury. The Fury are changing their name to Stile’s Mom’s Cookies or something like that. I am pretty geeked about my chances to make playoffs and maybe even compete for a championship next season.

That terrible playoff loss I had in ice hockey still haunts me a little bit even today. I thought about it off and on through Saturday playoffs. The good news is that I reacted to the shots on Saturday and played very well even though I had thoughts about that bad game going through my head at times.

Time heals all wounds though, and even though I haven’t had the best week hockey wise or championship wise, it was good to have a strong playoff day to rebound.

Now my attention turns to the opportunity I have on Thursday with Encore and winning a ice hockey championship. The odds are stacked against me. The team we are playing against has been #1 all season. My team will need to play a very good game to win it. I will need to play strong. I look at this game as a game of redemption for myself.

A second chance

I am going to have a shot at redemption. After tubing the title game in my Wednesday ice hockey league, I get a chance to get one with the Thursday night league. After winning our 1st game a few weeks ago, we won our second game in dominating fashion by a 9-3 score. We jumped out to a 4-0 lead and didn’t look back.

The really neat part of the win was that we beat the team that beat my Wednesday night team in the finals a year ago. They have two skaters that are just awesome, and they didn’t get a single goal in the game. Two of the three goals I gave up were off of rebound opportunities. The other was a screened shot from the point.

That win was overshadowed a bit by two rollerhockey losses eariler in the day. One was a team I subbed for that I came in for late because their goalie didn’t show up. I still didn’t play very well for them. Then my Dragons team missed taking 2nd in the division and instead take 3rd with a 5-2 loss. The thing that concerns me was the fact that the team we lost to was not even a playoff team. They just wanted the game more than we did.

So, playoffs for rollerhockey are tomorrow, and the schedule is set. Now all I have to do is deliver.

5 bad minutes

In the show Pardon the Interruption, there is a segment called 5 good minutes where they invite a guest to speak for 5 minutes about thes state of his team, game, and so on. I am going to name this segment 5 bad minutes because that is all that game I played last night came down to. My team didn’t play well, but more importantly, I didn’t play well.

It was a sucky way to end the season, but in the scheme of things, it was nothing. My job, family, car, and so on take precidence, and it would have been nice to win that game last night. However, I have to keep things in perspective. Especially with so much still at stake over the next few days.

Tonight my Dragons will try to seal up 2nd place in the division and a first round bye in the tournament on Saturday. Then, later tonight, the team I am subbing for in the intermediate ice hockey division will go after another win and advance to their finals game next week.

I am going to work on my butterfly today at both my games. I have to drive my knees to the floor faster than I have in the last 6 months. I have to make sure my stick is in the right spot. I haven’t played well maybe because I have felt that my game is where it should be. I got sloppy, fat, and maybe a little lazy. Its time to change those habits.

One thing I won’t be doing is having a mental meltdown. I won’t be retiring from the game or calling it quits. I have more hockey left in me, and more time to accomplish this ice hockey championship goal. Most importantly though, I have that rollerhockey tournament to play in on Saturday.

Goat

I have always thought of myself as a playoff goaltender. Someone who comes through in the clutch to win big games. Coming into my ice hockey finals game tonight, I had the same feeling. This was going to be my night. I was brimming with confidence and felt like I could take on the world.

When the buzzer sounded, I felt the worst I have ever felt.

With a 5-2 lead going into the last 5 minutes of the game, I was feeling like this game was ours. They put their last 4 shots behind me to win the game. 3 of them went 5 hole on me, and one was pushed in with a glove. Still, I will address the goals that I should have stopped.

A butterfly goaltender’s strength is his ability to cover the bottom of the net. I was not dropping very fast into my butterfly, and I got torched with 3 stoppable shots.

I remember being on the winning side of some of these combacks before. I have never been in a situation like this, so its new territory for me thats for sure. I turned in a horrible performance and now I have the challenge to rebound before my games tomorrow, and the playoff tournament this weekend.

I keep reminding myself of Cody, a goaltender that used to play against a few of my teams. He was a great goalie, but one day, he gave up 3 goals in the final period of play and his team was eliminated from playoff contention. A game they needed to win. After that, he never rebounded. He stopped playing a season later.

The key for my rebound is to tuck this experience into my belt and move on with my goalie career. A career that has had a lot of success, but not on ice. A career that has been very enjoyable, but with my age creeping up to 36 this year, its going to come to an end eventually. I estimate in the next 5 years.

Putting this loss behind me is going to be tough though. To know how close I was to a championship, only to see it slip away is just painful. Especially considering my attitude towards how I am a winner and money in the playoffs. Step one of my confidence rebuild will be getting a good nights sleep tonight and coming out strong tomorrow.

Almost time

In about 2 hours, I will be suiting up for my finals ice hockey game. My 3rd crack at a championship. My 3rd chance to attain my goal. My heart is skipping beats as I think about this game. Its important to me on so many levels. Its hard for me to put into words how I feel right now. I am trying to keep myself calm and focused on the task at hand.

The reason I started playing goalie

I watched the Red Wings game last night, and I must say I was disappointed in Haseks performance. At the same time though, I can relate to him as well. I have been playing hockey now for almost 10 years and I have been hearing the same critisim leveled at him that has been leveled at me at one point in time. Heck, I say it to myself for that matter.

Last night it was the 80 footer shot that I thought was unscreened that he let in. Some people said he was screened. Another person I know said it was tipped. In the end, it was a goal. The tying goal at the time. Less than 10 seconds later, there was a top shelf shot from the top of the faceoff circle that made it 4-3 Predators. I can’t fault him on that game winning goal. I saw how far he was out and the shot was a great one at that.

What I can fault is the Wings playing for the win with a 1 goal lead. You do that, you tend to lose games you should win. In order to win those close games, you have to play aggressive and passionate. The Wings just looked like they were playing on their heels and waiting for time to run out.

The reason why I started playing in goal was because I didn’t want to be one of these uninformed armchair fans. Hockey is all about working hard, but that doesn’t help you if the puck doesn’t bounce your way. Before I started playing hockey, I would get upset if my team got scored on. Now I look for the little things, such as a lucky bounce, a screen, and the way a goalie reacts to a shot. These goalies are human after all, and they have goals that are scored against them the same way they are scored on me in my rec leagues. The speed of the game isn’t an issue because I can perform in my rec leagues. It’s not like Hasek playing in the rec leagues or me playing in the NHL.

The end result, a loss for the Wings and its one the Wings could have had. Forget about it and onto game 4.

At least you get a 7 game series in the NHL. As for my rec league championship on Wednesday and all the playoff games on saturday, its a one game playoff where anything can and does happen.

Beyond the numbers

I have had a great run of championship rollerhockey. Since April 2006 playoffs, I have won at least 1 championship each season. A total of 12 championships in 8 playoff series. In less than 7 days, I will begin another playoff Saturday, and once again I will be tested.

The Fury are the ones applying the pressure to me just a little bit. Once again, I feel like if I don’t succeed, if we lose in the 3rd overtime of the finals, it will be a failed season. Heck, some of the pressure is applied by myself. I want to win, and I don’t want to be the weak link that kills us.

Last playoffs, the Stick Heads won the championship, but I let in a bad goal in that finals game. I won’t forget it even today, over 11 weeks later. There was no hastle given by my teammates because we won the game. If we lost the game, I am sure I would have been reminded of that one goal that I should have stopped.

The key is winning the game. Winning cures all ails.

On the other end of the spectrum is the Dragons. A team looking to get back to glory, but unable to make it. A team that looks like they are going to make 2nd place this week after our game, which will earn us the right to get a 1st round bye in the tournament.

Then, lastly, my ice hockey team has a finals game on Wednesday. Then I am subbing in for another team on Thursday for their 2nd round game.

By the end of the week, I am going to be emotionally drained. It will all start on Tuesday with the Fury’s last regular season game. Wednesdays big finals game, my 3rd crack at a championship at ice hockey against a very good team, will be huge. Thursday’s final Dragons game to seal up 2nd place, and then another ice hockey playoff game in order to help this team advance to the finals. Lastly, I will have playoff Saturday.