I thought I was declining

When I turned 40, I thought my hockey skills were on the decline.  I thought that my time to win an ice hockey championship was gone.  I also thought that I would be playing less, not more.  All these things have not come true.  In fact, this has been my best year to date when it comes to hockey.  I have achieved two ice hockey championships this season.  After achieving my 30th roller championship back in July, I just achieved my 31st today.

I played solid today, going 2-1 with the only loss in the top division finals game.  A game that I played very well in on top of that.  The championship finals game that we won was a tight 4-3 victory.  It wasn’t due to bad goaltending, but we did get a lucky bounce at the start of the game that went off the skate of the opposing goalie and went in.  It really was an opportunistic bounce that wasn’t the difference at the time, but it was a key goal in the end.  I did my part to seal the deal in the last few minutes with a couple key stops.

Now, I am looking forward to the two week break from roller hockey and can concentrate on my two ice hockey leagues, reffing on the weekend, my day job, and the class I am teaching.

One step closer

At the beginning of the season, I was hopeful I would reach 30 championships.  I came up one short, but I did very well in playoffs over the weekend.  I came into playoffs with two teams under my belt.  My beginner team, Sam Bernstein Advantage, finished 3rd in the conference and played very solid in their first two games. 

  • The first game was against Putt Putts Bar and we won 6-2.  I thought we played great as a team and cycled the puck.  One of our true beginner skaters had his first career hat trick, which was a huge boost to the team.
  • The second game we played against Dr. Rahmani who was 2nd in the division, and we won that one as well 4-1.  We had two empty netters at the end, but it was still good enough to advance.  What a great team effort win, and I think this was one of my best games that I played all night.
  • The championship game we lost 7-3 against the 1st place Soilers.  Yes the team was far superior, but I feel I didn’t play my best game.  With my best game, maybe the score is closer and we have a chance to pull that one out.

After losing one championship, I delivered on the other one with 8 Men and a Little Lady (I wonder who the lady is?) with a 4-0 shutout win.  I can’t take credit for the win entirely.  Yes, I played well, but the Phantoms just couldn’t put the puck in the net and they had a lot of opportunities to score late in the game.  I really didn’t rob them, but I played solid enough and my team in front of me really bailed me out.

That victory means that I am one step closer to 30 championships, with hopefully an opportunity to hit my goal in playoffs next season in July.  For now though, I am going to enjoy the success I have had.  As I remember from last season, I really thought that I would hit my goal then, and I went through a dry spell that extended through the entire year.  Seemed that I just couldn’t put it together when it mattered.

Overall, I am thankful for the players I have gotten a chance to play with and against over the course of the season.  Scott, a great defenceman on my intermediate team, is moving to Florida and I am going to miss playing hockey with him.  Justin, a good friend that I have gotten the chance to play against for years, is moving to Colorado.  I know that people come and people go, but its tough to see good friends move on.

I was physically tired after playing 4 games on Saturday.  I should have rested on Sunday, but instead I reffed and I am really feeling it today.  I am going to enjoy resting over the course of the next week or so.  Then, next season, I will be ready to rock and roll.

It feels good……sort of

After over a year of playoff disappointment, I finally got to the top once again.  My Wednesday team accomplished their 1st championship since the days when we were playing at Marketlab.  A 3-1 victory against Bluevortex.net and a 7-0 victory over the phantoms.  Two of the biggest victories in a row that we have had in a playoff series.  One thing is certain, we all came to play, and I am proud of my team for doing so well.  After such a long drought, it feels good to get my 28th championship.  I am going to keep my promise to not be totally upset if I don’t win another one, but I know I will be disappointed if I go this long without winning my last game again.

Really, when it all comes down to it, I played solid in playoffs this season.  I have had my issues in the past and I thought my best days were behind me.  This season, I played much more solid.  A total of 4 games played, only 4 goals against total, and a 3-1 record.  My only loss was a 1-0 game in the finals for my beginner team.  I really was a little disappointed in the outcome of that game.  I thought we could pull that game out if things fell into place for us.  As it turns out, it just wasn’t meant to be.

On Wednesday last week, I tweaked my back slightly in a hockey game.  Thursday I was feeling a little better and I rested it on Friday.  Saturday I was sore but feeling pretty good.  By the end of the night, I was in pain even worse than I was on Wednesday night.  I thought knee pain was bad.  This is horrible because of the fact you can’t twist certain ways and getting up after going down in a butterfly is not pleasant.  I spent my time Sunday and Monday resting my back, no exercise at all.  Today, I am stretching and slowly feeling better.  I am going to take Thursday off of ice hockey and rest up a little more.  Its my hope to ref ice hockey on Saturday and be 100%.  I am on target for that date.

I am pretty happy I have some time off before the next season begins.  Back about 6 years ago, I would get all upset about the break.  Now, with me getting older, I am cherishing the time off a little more often.

Wanting it more

I am sitting here in my chair at home, my eyelids are so heavy.  I am ready to crash very soon.  Yet, I am sitting here typing a piece to add to my blog.  I must be very dedicated.  Well, that and I am excited still.  My Marketlab team was shorthanded tonight, and yet with only 6 guys and seeded 2nd overall, we charged into the finals and then gave a dominating performance to take the championship.  It was my 27th, and I feel on top of the world right now.

The day was not without its low points though.  Getting beat with the Blizzard house team in the highest division 6-1 was pretty sad.  I had higher hopes for this team than I did Marketlab actually.  I thought we would have a good shot to win a championship, and that dream ended real quick.  I know my defense left me out to dry.  Still, it was a sad game to lose like that.

I subbed in for a team called “Great White Ninja” who had a great first game against the Lightning house team.  We skated to a 6-4 victory.  It was good to see them advance, but from that point forward I was concentrating on Marketlab.

Marketlab only had 6 skaters, and I knew the task was daunting.  Beat Team Steve, a team that beat us in the last game of the regular season in OT.  Then, beat the Puckups, a team that went undefeated and has a super team.  One game at a time though.  We concentrated on the first one.

We won the first game 7-3.  We had a really good start to the game by scoring the first few goals.  Then they came back with a few goals of their own to make it close.  We tore away from them in the 3rd and they never caught up.  My performance was mixed.  I just feel that I didn’t play my strongest game.

The strongest game of the night that I played was in the last game against the Puckups.  However, my team didn’t need it.  My team dominated the play.  Everyone just skated like they wanted to win that game.  Sure, there were a couple good saves I made, but my team did the hard work.  I was not relied on to make big save until we were up 2-0 and I had a couple nice saves in the crease.  By the time they got a shot on the backdoor that I stopped, it was already 5-0.  By the time they scored their first goal it was already 7-0 and less than 3 minutes left in the game.  It was a nice breakaway.  I gave up a crappy 5-hole goal after that, but we did win a solid game thats for sure.  I cannot complain.

Yes, we wanted that game the the championship that came with it.  Everyone played a solid game and played like a true team with a ton of desire.  I will write more tomorrow.  I am exhausted.

Another successful playoff Saturday

As in the past, I really didn’t know what to expect coming into playoffs on Saturday.  Malys had limped into playoffs and got beat by the first place team two times during the regular season in dominating fashion.  Marketlab had a solid season finishing 8-2, with the top teams in the division giving them the hardest time.  Lastly, the Stick Heads made playoffs because another team dropped out.  Beating Grand Valley was an almost impossible thought.

#5 Malys vrs #4 Main Street Pub
We have had a lot of success vrs Main Street and this game would be no exception.  We notched the first 3 goals in the game to take a big lead.  I really can’t remember the first goal they scored off hand, but we scored to make it 4-1 shortly after that.  They scored their 2nd goal off a rebound I gave up in the last few minutes, but by then the game was over by a final of 4-2 and we had an almost impossible game coming up against the Rabid Wombats.

#5 Malys vrs #1 Rabid Wombats
The Wombats came into this game with the best record and the best team.  They beat us 7-2 and 7-4 respectively during the regular season.  Everyone on our team had a bad feeling about this game.  Yet, we came out and played an awesome game.  We passed the puck and capitalized on the few chances we had.  They took the early 1-0 lead though off of a shot that hit me and I thought it was under me, but it had in fact trickled behind me and sat there until one of them poked the puck in.  Eli tied the game later in the first period to tie the game 1-1 at the end of the first.  In the second period. Chad wristed a shot from the point that found the back of the net.  With us up 2-1 at the end of the second period, we needed to keep up the hard work.  We did so and we held on to win the game.  How did I do?  I came up with several strong saves in this game.  A couple shots were labeled for the top part of the net that I stopped with my glove or blocker.  Overall, the best game I have played so far.

#2 Marketlab vrs #5 Dragons
The Dragons came up with a upset over the Guns of Pablo.  Marketlab just played a very solid game in order to keep the Dragons off the board.  I came up with a few good stops, but my team really came up with a stellar performance.  We moved out to a 4-0 lead by the 3rd period.  Then, we sat on the lead the last 10 minutes giving the Dragons some offensive leeway which they took advantage of.  I gave up a rebound and the put it back into me but it trickled behind me and into the net to give them a goal in the final 3 minutes.  We still won 4-1 which put us in the finals against Red Army.

#4 Stick Heads vrs #1 Grand Valley
If I won this game, I would have probably retired because it would have been the biggest upset I have ever been a part of.  Instead, this game was a 7-1 loss where I played pretty well but just didn’t do well.  We just got hammered but we had fun playing our last game together….at least for a while.

#5 Malys vrs #3 Dragons B
We had beaten the Dragons in the regular season 5-1.  I really didn’t know what to expect out of this game.  The Dragons path had taken them through two games as well so it wasn’t like either of us had less games.  That being said, it was a tight game from the start.  I was beaten by the only goal I gave up by Brad, their best player.  He rifled a shot top corner on me in the slot to give the Dragons a 1-0 lead.

In the second period, we tallied two goals.  Phil got a good sharp angle 5 hole goal to tie the game.  Then, Nick came back from a 2 game suspension and scored off of a rebound attempt.  He needed about 3 swipes to get it in.

Through the entire game, the Dragons put a lot of shots on me.  My defense cleared some rebounds, but they shot a lot right into my chest.  The closest they came to tying it was a rising backhand in the slot that hit the post.  I was not ready for that.  With a minute left, Eli missed a wide open net with the goalie pulled.  He was hooked by the defense, and I thought for a second that it might be a turning point, but it wasn’t.  We held on for the win and our second championship in three sessions.

That was my 25th championship.  I have achieved my goal that I set for myself at the beginning of the year.  I am indeed very fortunate.

#2 Marketlab vrs #1 Red Army
The games we have played so far have been very competitive ones.  This one would live up to its billing.  Brit would score first for us off a rebound chance to bring us up 1-0.  Red Army answered off a partial breakaway.  I let him drive around the top of the crease and backhand it into the wide open side of the net.  At the end of the first period it was 1-1 and I knew I should have dove out to stop that player from driving around and my teammates told me.

The second period was a coming out party for Red Army early.  They notched a goal off a shot from the top of the faceoff circle.  I didn’t see it because he used my defenseman as a screen.  I didn’t see it until it was too late.  Red Army continued to put pressure on me and they got another goal off a sharp angle rebound.  I dove over to cover the puck and they banked it off my stick and it somehow trickled into the net.  Down 3-1, I didn’t have a good feeling about this game all of a sudden but I didn’t let it shake my confidence.  I continued to make stops to keep my team in the game.  We scored later in the period off a nice 2 on 1 chance to bring us closer.  The final at the end of the second period was 3-2.

We came out much stronger in the third period.  Brit got a nice goal that went five hole on the goalie to tie the game.  I really can’t remember the 4th goal we scored, but we did so with 5 minutes left to go to take a 4-3 lead.  I lept inside and I also pumped my fist at that point.  I knew I could keep the lead.  Of course, knowing you can keep the lead and actually keeping it is another thing.  Less than a minute later, they had tied the game off a shot that deflected off of at least 2 people.  With 4 minutes to go, the score was tied once again.  Both sides exchanged shots but it was the last one that Marketlab had that was the difference.  With 43 seconds left, Red Army had a defensive breakdown leaving Andy right in front of the net with the slot with the puck with only the goalie to beat.  The goalie dove out to knock the puck away or cover it, but Andy deked around him and put it in the yawning cage.  We had taken the lead 5-4, and this time we would hold it.  I made one good butterfly stop and my defense did the rest to win the game.

That would be my 26th championship.

What am I the most proud of?
I usually can remember a few big stops I had in the games I played.  I came up with some, but none that I remember conclusively.  The thing I am most proud of are the performances of my teams.  Malys had a tough road to the championship but went through three teams that had done better than they had through the regular season.  The defensive effort they put on in front of me was outstanding.  Marketlab participated in the most competitive division and came out with a championship.   They dropped their first two games of the season and then picked themselves up and played spectacular hockey the rest of the season.  In the playoffs, they played their best hockey.  Especially in the final game against a team that averaged 7 goals per game.

What was the surprising story of the playoffs?
The Thursday hockey division was the most competitive division.  Marketlab was locked into 2nd place needing a win to keep that 1st round bye and possibly a 1st place finish.  They beat Red Army in OT to keep 2nd place but that was only because they took dumb penalties.  We win that game outright it changes the playoff picture.  We lose that game we are in 3rd place and not getting that bye in the first round.  What about the other teams in the playoffs that I didn’t talk about?  Ellis Sales won their game which put Structural Standards out of the playoff picture.  They don’t win and I am playing for them in that 6th seed which may wear me out playing an additional game.  The team that slipped into that 3rd seed beat us in the regular season, which was the Hot Shots.  I call them “Jordie’s Team” and they would have tore through Structural.  Ellis beat them in the first round which was a big playoff upset.

One last thing about surprising stories.  The top seeded team only won in 2 divisions, one of them was by a forfeit.  That just shows how much parody there was in the playoffs and always will be.  Just getting into the playoffs should be the goal for any team because anything can happen.

A solid performance

My goaltending during playoffs has been consistantly strong.  Sure, I have had a few weak games, but when the chips are down it seems that I just kick things into high gear.  Maybe it is just the nervousness factor or the fact that I don’t want to make a mistake and more people knowing about it.  I don’t know.  All I do know is that I came into this playoff Saturday with the same mission that I do every playoff game.  Come out, play hard, and do the best I can to help my team win.

This day was one of the strangest I have experienced.

Game 1 – Hurricane 3 – Main Street Pub 1
My first game of the day was with the Hurricane.  A team that had no goalie any my brother was going to play for them.  My brother couldn’t make it so I played their first game.  I had a solid game stopping all but a top corner shot that I could have had if I came out far enough to take the shot.  As it was, it was a solid shot.  Still, I helped get them the win and that was all I cared about.

Game 2 – River Yaks 3 – Malys 2
I played the next game for my Malys team which is in the same division.  We jumped out to a 1-0 lead right off the bat and then it was one of those games that just locked down.  They tied it 1-1 off a deflection off my own defenseman.  Then they went up 2-1 off another deflection off my own defenseman’s shin guard that popped over me.  We tied it 2-2 later in the second period.  With the game tied, the River Yaks capitalized on a 2-1 chance.  With me playing the shooter all the way, they got the puck across to a wide open forward who made no mistake and pushed the puck in the open net.  We had so many chances to tie it in the 3rd period, but we just couldn’t score.  After capturing 2 titles in a row, this would have been the 3rd, but it just wasn’t meant to be.

Game 3 – Marketlab 5 – Why do we have Jordie 3
My Marketlab team needed to really play a solid game against the team with just as good of a defense as we had.  We roared right out of the gate in the 1st period getting a 3-0 lead.  Then, Jordie’s team started their comeback.  Pawlik, one of their forwards, put the team on his back and scored on an odd man rush.  It was a 2 on 1, and I reacted to the pass to the wide open forward, but Pawlik put it far side on me.  Then Pawlik got a great deflection goal in front of me off a shot from the point.  They tied it in the 3rd period off a shot that I just missed making a save on.  Still, my Marketlab team came back strong getting 2 more goals in the final frame to seal the victory and a trip to the finals.

Game 4 – River Yaks 1 – Hurricane 0
There is a simple rule in hockey.  You have to score to win.  The River Yaks scored off a shot that deflected off my defenseman, but I didn’t react to it at all.  Either I was caught flat footed or something.  I don’t know.  Still, I stopped every shot other than that one.  The Hurricane had a lot of great shots on net but just couldn’t capitalize.  The finals game ended 1-0.  The River Yaks earned it, and they beat me with 2 different teams.  They earned this championship thats for sure.  Their goalie just stood on his head.

Game 5 – Marketlab 2 – Ellis Sales – 1
It was a hard fought game between an Ellis Sales team that beat us 4-2 earlier in the season and Marketlab who finished with the best record.  It was #1 vrs #2 and Ellis started out on the offensive.  They scored the first goal off a nice shot in the slot that went top shelf on me.  Ellis Sales hit  the crossbar and post in the first period but the score remained 1-0.  Marketlab tied it up 1-1 off a rebound chance and then took the lead with 8 minutes left in the 3rd period off an odd man rush.  Those last 8 minutes felt like 80 minutes as Ellis threw everything at the net.  I played an excellent game to retain the lead.  The last 2 minutes of the game I stopped about 6 shots to preserve the lead.  In all actuality I let up a couple rebounds that I should have had.  I was also very fortunate as the crossbar and post were my friends earlier in that game.  If the puck is a fraction lower on the crossbar shot or a fraction to the left on that post shot then its a 2-0 lead for them and we would have had a harder time coming back.

Its my 24th championship, and I am 1 shy from my goal that I set for myself at the beginning of the season.  I am going to crash and post more reflections tomorrow sometime.

Never comes easy

I played very solid today. My total record was 5-0 and I won 2 championships.  It was my 22nd and 23rd respectively.  However, I was left with mixed emotions on the day for various reasons.

Game #1 – Who Cares Brass was the first game I played on the day. My team fought hard against a hungry Pfiffer Infinity team. We led 3-1 at one point in the game. Pfiffer tied it up in the last 5 minutes of the 3rd period. We finally scored off of a deflection in the first OT. I didn’t let in any weak goals which was a good thing. I just wanted to prove to myself that I could beat the #1 team. The finals would never come for this team though as they only had 4 guys that could make the final game. Since I had other championship games, I made the decision to play if my team wanted to but I might get some help in net. Who Cares made the decision to forfeit their last game due to not having enough guys.

Game #2 – Malys road to the championship went through a very tough Main Street Pub team by a final of 3-2. I played a solid game once again keeping my team in the lead. Eli scored all 3 of our goals to help our team to victory.

Game #3 – Who Cares Aluminum finished the season 10-0 and if there was anything I wanted, it was to win with them. I have been fortunate to have an undefeated season 2 previous times. The first time my Bulldogs team faltered in the playoffs. The second time Dekleine Builders took the trophy. I didn’t want Who Cares Aluminum to falter this far in. The Rink Rats were undefeated last season and I was fortunate enough to beat them in the first round of the playoffs. I remember how pumped I was to play that game and upset them. I didn’t want any teams feeling that same high today.

Who Cares Aluminum won their first game by a 8-4 score, but it was an ominous beginning. The Lightning scored the first 3 goals of the game in the first period. One of them off a nice 2 on 1 chance. The second one was a weak goal from the side of the net. I didn’t go down fast enough and it slipped under my pad. I was the most pissed off about this goal more than any that had been scored on me so far today. It was one I should have had. Who Cares started to apply pressure and get goals in the 2nd and 3rd periods. At one point it was tied up 4-4, but Who Cares started to pull away. When the Lightning’s best player got kicked out for 3 penalties, we salted the game away. Overall, a strong effort after a weak first period by myself and the rest of the team.

Game #4 – Malys championship game was against the Hurricane. A team that beat us in the regular season 5-4 and 2-1 in the regular season. This game would have a much better ending. Malys would leap out to a dominating 3-0 lead at the end of the first period. One player from the Hurricane who was just insanely good for the beginner division torched me for the only two goals. Both of them excellent shots. The final 30 seconds was hectic. The game ended with two of my defensemen in the crease stopping shots with their bodies. Final of 3-2. It was back to back championships for Malys and my first with the team.

Game #5 – Who Cares played the Rink Rats for the championship, and it was a dominating performance for Who Cares. The defense was superb through the whole game. Their passing was tape to tape the whole game. The final was 5-0. It was my first playoff shutout in over 2 years.

This playoff day was not without its disappointments. The first is Structural Standards. I wanted to play for them so badly, but with me having to play a game right afterwards, and with Who Cares in the playoffs in the same division, I wanted them to have their own goalie. My brother played for them and lost 3-2. It was sad to see them play hard and lose, but they will get another chance down the road. It was still sad though.

The second disappointment was watching my brother play so hard in 2 games and lose them both. He played a great first game with Structural Standards, and a superb game with the Rabid Wombats in a 2-1 loss. He made diving saves and toe saves. He made probably 3 saves that were just incredible and game saving stops. Its just sad that he didn’t get enough goal support.

Lastly, Who Cares Brass forfeiting their game due to lack of players. It was sad to see them do that, but I totally understand it. I have to wonder what would have happened if a full strength Who Cares team got to play the final game with the Empty Netters. I guess we won’t know the answer to that question though.

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.

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.

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.