The Devil’s home tournament, appropriately dubbed Sharkfest, starts tomorrow. We are all, of course, all hoping for a good showing. You have to figure the home team has a bit of an advantage as there is no travel, no hotels, no pools, no rushed meals in restaurants and no other out of the norm distractions that virtually every visiting team has to deal with. Our girls will be playing in the friendly confines of their home rinks, they will eat healthy, home-cooked meals and they will get to go home to their own beds at presumably decent times. For many teams, tournaments mean suggested, but not necessarily strict curfews. We’ve been to enough tournaments to know the general “lights out time” is 10pm, while the general “we’re sleeping soundly time” is more like 12am. 8 and 9am morning games show up plenty early.
You would also like to think that the home team would play a little harder to defend their home turf. That message will no doubt be relayed in the pre-game dressing room coach talk. We’ll just have to see if that attitude is carried out onto the ice at game time.
All three of the teams the Devil will be playing are coming from 2+ hours away. But then again, two of the three teams come from traditionally strong regions where players are drawn from large, primarily rural areas. The result is a usually a collection of quite talented players from a relatively small population. We’ve played teams from one of these regions in the past where the players, from a size and skill perspective, appeared to be a year or two older. I may have once quipped from the stands that someone should “Check that girl’s driver’s license” as she didn’t seem to fit in with the other 10 year olds. 10 years olds typically don’t stand over six feet tall even if they are wearing skates. I also recall watching an opposing 11 or 12 year old player launch a slap shot that I would be proud to see fly from my stick. One or two significantly stronger players on any given team can make the difference between winning and losing in women’s hockey. Then again, often times a cohesive team can counter a strong player.
As with any tournament, the real purpose is for the girls to have fun playing a variety of teams they don’t usually get to face. Doing well and perhaps even winning a tournament would be an added bonus. The coaches will simply want to see the players and team compete to their full potential. We believe we have started to see glimpses of that potential over the last several weeks and hope it continues this weekend; as the team prepares to enter a heavy part of their regular season schedule in December.
The Boy, for his part, has no hockey until late day Sunday, so he will be running score clocks during the tournament in return for high-school mandated community service hours. He’d much rather be playing Call of Duty on his XBox in his down timie. However this is a good opportunity to amass a substantial percentage of the 40 hours he is required to put in during his four-year high school career. So he will be joining us, somewhat willingly, in the rinks.
As other local teams in other divisions will also be playing in this tourney, I’m sure we will spend a substantial amount of time in one rink or another over the next few days. I will hopefully be reporting back triumphantly, if not with simple pride following a strong effort by the Devil and her mates, as the weekend draws to a close.