What a Weekend!
Back from Torhs WinterNats and what a weekend it was! Torhs ran a great show and the Dumars staff was helpful as they always are. Thanks a lot guys for making it such a great weekend!
We started of Saturday at 1pm vs LA Pama Cyclones. We have built quite the rivalry over the past few seasons with Pama coming up on the winning end every time. This game would be no different. It was 2-1 Pama at the end of the first half. In the 2nd half they crossed us up all over the rink and added a few power play goals to win the game, decisively 6-1. I was very disappointed but not angry. I am a big believer in positive reinforcement and simply explained to the boys what they did wrong in that game. I think they agreed and we made the mental adjustment to proceed in the tournament.
Game 2 was against the Detroit Revolution. They had a deep bench and some pretty nice uniforms. We scouted them out on Friday night and felt they were very beatable, although they did skate very hard and move the puck well. This game was big if we wanted to position ourselves for the playoffs. From the opening drop, we dominated the game. We were to physical, to fast, to powerful, and to hungry for the Revolution. We ended up mercying them in the 2nd half 8-0. One of the highlights of the game was Russ Folga's hit on an opposing player - He lined him up perfectly, and flipped him into the penalty box with the hit. Some of you may be thinking hitting? there's no hitting in roller hockey? Well at Torhs the Pro division is full contact on the boards. Nobody wears shoulder pads and half the guys don't wear girdles or protective pants. For all of you naysayers, these guys sound pretty tough to me.
Game 3 was against the 2009 Torhs AND Narch Pro division champion Tour Mudcats. The Mudcats had a heavy roster filled with grizzled veteran players. Some of which like to just bully the opposition into submission, especially with this being full contact hockey. As i scouted them Friday evening, I quickly realized their gameplan. We took the floor in this game 1-1 and needed a win to keep the dream alive. The game was crazy from the start! We ended up scoring first on a beautifully executed play. The Mudcats tied the game later at 1. We jumped on the Power play mid way through the second and Kozzer sniped one, as he usually does to put us up 2-1. The Mudcats were pressing hard and trying to bully us but we just wouldn't back down. With a little over 2 minutes left, we got a bit crossed up on defense and the Mudcats put a shot top corner to knot it at 2. This was a tough blow, but not devastating to us. We knew we still had a shot and didn't let down. We took the game to OT, which is a shoot out in round robin action at Torhs. They went first.... LaTona came up with a big save on a forehand deke attempt! I started off with Walser... Walser came down with those pretty and soft hands and pulled a Dirk Dangler move on the Mudcats goalie to put us ahead. LaTona would stop the next Mudcat attempt. Next for us was Ricky. Ricky was stuffed on a 5-hole attempt.. Next was the infamous Cj Yoder for the Mudcats. He sniped LaTona far side to knot it up. We had a shot with Koz going last. He had what he was looking for but went top shelf and missed over the net. The Mudcats go again and miss with a big save by LaTona. It was a 3 man shootout so we had to go on to the next round of players. I wanted to end the game now..... With an extremely tough decision, probably to the surprise of many, I went with rookie Chris Kendal as our fourth shooter. Chris patiently headed down the floor deked left then went back right, had about 4 inches of room to put the puck, and placed it off the right post, then the left and in for the win!!! We beat the Mudcats in a shootout and everyone jumped the bench of met at LaTona for a huge dap! It was a unbelievable victory for us and a great one to put on the resume. We were escatic in the locker room as everyone was high as can be from the win!
We were 2-1 in heading into a fairly easy win against the Detroit Stars, as long as we played our game. Well we had one problem - we were still on our high horse from the Mudcats win and thought by just taking the floor in this game that we were going to win. From the coaching staff to the players the intensity was nonexistent. The Stars buried chances time and time again. Before we knew it we were facing a big deficit. We mounted a comeback but it was too late. The game was too far gone. We lost 5-3. Mid way through that game something hit me. While I was extremely frustrated, I wasn't mad. I understood the magnitude of the victory over the Mudcats and learned a very critical lesson. In tournament action, especially with games being so close together, you can never get to high off of a win. We got way to high from that victory over the Cats. I explained this to the boys after the loss and they understood. We're all learning this together and I will definitely take the blame for this one. I didn't have my guys ready, but thank God this was a meaningless game! We were locked into the 3rd seed, win or lose! Other than a blow to the ego, this meant nothing. It's stuff like this that true Champions to be sort out. I will never let something like this happen again. I learned my lesson and will have us prepared again for a situation like this. At the same time, next time we do beat the Mudcats, it will be normal and we won't have to get so high!
Wouldn't ya know, the playoffs seeded us against the Tour Mudcats! #2 Cats vs. #3 Wings. The Arena was pretty packed for this one as many people were eager to see the rematch from the night before. You knew it was going to be an all out war! I think the guys were ready. I seen a hunger out of them them like never before! The game was back and forth for a while. Midway through the 2nd, the Mudcats tied it at 3. I knew we had to make the next move and score that next goal to win. I pulled Koz up from defense for a shift and placed him with Nawojski and they both made me look like a genius! After some Youngblood and Sutton like puck movement, Koz found Nawojski open in the slot where he drilled one in the net! Wings 4 Cats 3. At this point, if we can put that 5th goal in the net, it will be the dagger! Well it was going good until we took a penalty. It's 4-3 and were killing off a penalty with our SICK penalty kill unit. Walser grabs the puck, strides down the left Wing, cuts back to the slot and puts one past the Cats goalie! 5-3 Wings!!! However, we still had a penalty to kill off, which we did. A short time later Nawojski found Walser in the slot for a goal! 6-3 Wings. The Mudcats pulled their goalie in desperation and Baby Joe drilled one into the open net 7-3! Hugeeee win for us as we advanced to the Championship! I immediately reminded everyone of the night before and got all emotions in check! We would be facing off against the Cyclones a few hours later in the 2010 Torhs Championship Game!
It was a packed house for the 2010 Winter Cup Championship. The La Pama Cyclones vs. The Revision Buffalo Wings. The game was extremely intense as both teams battled it out. Pama struck first with a very odd angled goal. 1-0 Pama. We kept pluggin away and late in the 2nd Pama went up 2-0. It was going to be a tough deficit to overcome. With 6:30 left I called a timeout and did all I could to inject some motivation into these boys. After some hard work, and good puck movement, we popped one in on a heater from Durinka. 2-1 Pama. Pama popped a 3rd one in with a few minutes left 3-1 Pama. We came too far to give up. We pulled LaTona and Walser sniped one top shelf with 58 seconds left in the game. 3-2 Pama. We won the face off and Folga found himself in the slot with the puck and drilled one off the crossbar. This would be our last chance. We fell to Pama 3-2. As Pama rushed the floor in the victory of celebration, all we could do was sit there in take a mental note of how it feels to be defeated in a Championship game. I didn't let myself get too down from it and I don't think the guys did either. We are just going to use it to fuel our fire and come harder next time. We keep taking steps up the ladder, and won't stop til were at the top!
While everyone played awesome for me this weekend I have to give goalie Richard Latona the 1st star. He was absolutely amazing all weekend long. Russ Folga also had a big tourney as he pounded people all weekend long and sparked energy into his teammates with his ferocity. He was a beast of nature and without a doubt, the hardest hitter in the tournament! Good job boys! See you tomorrow for work!
Signing off one step away -