2012 USA Hockey Disabled Festival- Road To Bronze

Posted: April 17, 2012 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , ,

So then let’s get right to it!!

Participating in this tournament meant that we were guaranteed to play at least four games. Five teams total in the division. And so this is my experience and perspective for the road to winning the Bronze Medal.

Game #1- G.L.A.S.A. vs. TSH. Final score: 13-1.

Yep, you read right. It would be the largest margin of defeat that we would endure. Many things were a factor in this eye-opening game. #1- We had never played in a tournament like this before. #2- We did not have a goalie. Instead, someone volunteered to take up the position who in their own hockey experience, never played that position before. We were unarmed with very little defense to protect our goal. We had a lot of mistakes and basically this game, we took the loss. Team leaders and supporters continually reminded us that we did score one goal, and ruined Chicago’s shut out. We would shake the cobwebs off, learn from our mistakes, and move on.

Game #2- Buffalo vs. TSH. Final score: 2-1 (SO).

Victory. We had someone coming in as a goalie this time, and that player actually plays goalie. We also had our first taste of what it was like to be winning in regulation, but Buffalo came back and tied it which caused the game to go into sudden death by a shoot out. It began with a three man shoot out for each team, and it was still tied. So then each team went to the bench and each player took a shot at the goal until a player scored. My chance at the goal didn’t get off the ice and into the air and so it was easy for the goalie to just put his glove down and stop the shot from going in.

Ending the first day of competition with a WIN was a great feeling. Our tired bodies enjoying the fact that the first game of the second day would not be until the afternoon.

We had a player in goalie, who actually was a goalie. The player was actually playing for TWO different teams in the entire tournament. My hat goes off to him for being so tough!!

Game #3- Minnesota vs. TSH. Final score: 7-0.

Personally this game was probably the beginning of my physical and mental exhaustion. It was unfortunate that minutes before the game against Minnesota, I would find out that my brother-in-law had passed away the night before and I had no idea about it. Team supporters were discussing the sad news and assumed that I had already known about it. But I had not. I was fortunate enough to be able to concentrate on the game while I was on the ice long enough to put aside the sudden news of my family’s tragedy.

Minnesota was a team of all teams. Expected to win it all. (And they did.) We played them very tough. At that point, any other team that Minnesota played… they gave them a serious beating. But when they played us, Minnesota had fewer goals scored against an opponent. And we held them to seven.

If there was a game that I would have guessed we would have been beaten 13-1, it would have been this one. But I was wrong and I’m glad that I was.

One memory that really sticks out in my mind is that while we were getting beat by Minnesota, a female player scored on us and she turned around and filled the entire ice rink with her giggling and laughter, so proud of herself for scoring a goal. Everybody there heard it. She was bouncing up and down in her sled… it was a priceless moment for her. I had to skate by her and tell her “nice shot!”. I’m sorry, but it was too cute and funny.

Game #4- Florida vs. TSH. Final score: 1-0 (SO).

Another game that went into a shoot out. The three man shoot out produced no results and both teams actually went through their entire benches before finally our team cycled through to the top again and then scored, ending the nail-biting overtime period. My chance to win it all had failed because I skated too close to the goal and the puck didn’t have a chance to gain any speed or air to get passed their goalie.

This game was essential for us to win. If we would have lost, we would have been sent home. But we won, and then an hour or so later, we were back on the ice once more to play in the semi-finals. Going into it with a record of 2-2. A few players from Florida congratulated us on our win and one even said that it was worth the elimination to have been a part of the extended and grueling overtime period as he laughed about it.

Game #5: Semi-final- G.L.A.S.A. vs. TSH. Final score: 2-0.

Wretched bloody game 5!!!

Again we played Chicago. We knew what they were capable of doing. But our team was showing huge amounts of improvement with each game played whether we won or loss. And it was our third game that we played in eight hours. As SIX MINUTE CENTURY says in their song: “Through the flames, we abide. Weary, we march on.”

This game should have gone into our third shoot out of the tournament. But there was one major problem. The officials didn’t know what they were doing!

Chicago’s first goal was crap. They took a shot at the goal, and our goalie stopped it. But then the player who had taken the shot ran right into our goalie and knocked him over. The puck sputtered behind our goalie and then Chicago tapped it in. But it should not have counted and the call should have been “goalie interference”.

Being down early kind of worked its way into our mentality, but we stuck to it and fought our hardest. Even though we did take shots at the goal.

And that kind of irritates me as well. The website that keeps tracks of the stats throughout the entire tournament said we had NO shots on goal. I had a couple, so that’s bull. One game, I’m not even listed on the roster and I was there playing. And they had me as goalie for the first game, which I was not. But I will digress and get back to game five.

With less than two minutes left in regulation, the most unbelievable chain of events happened that contributed to the 2-0 loss. And yes, I took this very, VERY personal!!

Let me draw your attention momentarily to the image of hockey sticks that is used when playing the sport of sledge hockey. The metal picks on the end of the stick are the device to help propel a player across the ice as they remain seated in a sled. These picks are very sharp and they have to be, to be able to dig into the ice and move the player along.

I was in the offensive zone and Chicago was trying to get it away. I struggled in a physical battle for the puck and fell over in the sled.

Falling over happens a lot, that’s just how it goes. But what DOES NOT happen, or SHOULD NOT happen is that these sticks are used as a weapon.

I was stabbed in the back with a stick with the metal picks coming down into my body. I did have the essential protective gear and equipment on. But with enough force behind the swing… I felt it.

I’m laying there on my side, fighting to get the puck and I’m stabbed! I noticed that an official was near by and I took advantage of it and screamed out bloody frickin’ murder when the offense happened in order to get the attention of the officials. So yeah, I played it out and whined on the ice.

The play was called dead by the whistle, “Slashing” was called for a penalty for G.L.A.S.A. #23. They made it a five minute penalty rather than a common two minute penalty because of the seriousness of the offense.

BIG PROBLEM though!

#1- The scoreboard showed that the five minute penalty for our team and not Chicago.

#2- Player #23 was NOT pulled out of the game to sit in the penalty box, instead they pulled out someone else.

Again with the cheating and stupid officials because they were idiots and didn’t know what they were doing.

With only less than two minutes left, we pulled out our goalie and had six men on the ice. Chicago got the puck and scored on our empty net to make the score 2-0.

It was #23 that scored on the empty net, and he should have been pulled out of the game in the penalty box. But no. That clinched their victory over us.

G.L.A.S.A. would go on to face Minnesota in the Championship Game. And we were going to the Consolation Game. In which we met up against Buffalo again.

Game #6: Consolation- Buffalo vs. TSH. Final score: 3-0.

Third place on the line. Our game continued to improve more and more. We were not called for the same kinds of mistakes as we had been in our first two games.

We jumped ahead early 1-0, and we never looked back. Buffalo took out their player from the goal and he played as a forward late in the third period. But we would score twice on their empty net late in the game, clinching our victory and Bronze Medal.

When it was all said and done, our team couldn’t have been happier. There was a bit of a discussion about had the officials not cheated during the semi-finals, of whether or not the Silver Medal would have been “given to us”. Well I said that we would have received the silver for sure, because we were not going to beat Minnesota, but we had earned the right to play for it.

All in all, everyone on the team, the coaches, the parents, the supporters were happier than pigs in mud about our tournament results. Not one person complained or groaned about our performance during the Consolation Game.

So now we know what its like to travel. We know what it is like to travel AND participate in a tournament and play at a higher level than what we have ever done before in the past. We have that knowledge, experience, and a higher ability to play with other teams from across the nation. Something that none of the team players had ever had before.

We know that we can do it now. And we have proven that. Coming home after a victory is always a plus. Third Place couldn’t have been any sweeter. It is going to be something that everyone is going to remember for the rest of their lives. Because I know that I sure will.

 

 

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