Back to Barely, But Winning, Ways
Fresh off of their disappointing early playoff exit, the Sharks needed to refocus their attention this week on a four-point series to qualify for the Provincial championships, a daunting task considering the opponent; one of the only teams they hadn’t beaten all year with a less than stellar 0-1-1 record. As I’ve likely bemoaned here in the past, the whole qualification process is a little misguided as some teams, depending on their geographic location, are required to face-off against several opponents while others may automatically qualify if there is no team at their level in close proximity. In the Devil’s team’s case, the number of teams in their way was just the one.
Early on in game one it was obvious the Sharks’ closest nemesis would continue to be a bee in their hockey bonnet. This series would be much like the games preceding it. The Devil and her mates would hold the balance of play, but their scoring woes of the past couple of weeks would continue. They would be able to net a single marker, which would be matched by game’s end. A win and at least a tie in the next two contests would be necessary if the Sharks hoped to move on. Neither was expected to a simple proposition.
However, in game two a few days later, ours was the dominant side from start to finish. The net result was a slim 2-1 victory, but at least to me it felt like the team had regained some of its swagger. The score would have been much more lopsided had it not been for some very good netminding between the opposing pipes.
And so, there would be an opportunity to finish the mini-war in the third game with a draw or victory. The script in this fifth meeting of the year between the two combatants would repeat itself as the good guys on the home side would start as the aggressors, throwing plenty of pucks at the visiting keeper. Plenty of pucks, which would be turned away time and again. At the other end of the ice, a miscue in the defensive zone was turned into a one-goal advantage, which would remain in tact until halfway through the second period when the score was finally knotted at 1-1. A tie would be enough, but sure wasn’t welcome by those of us with weak nerves on the sidelines. A two or three-goal victory would have been far preferred. While the girls did not provide the wanted margin, they did spend the majority of the third period in the offensive zone again registering several good scoring chances. Yet, the only other goal they would score to cap the series was an empty-netter when the visiting coach realized a draw was not enough for his crew to stave off elimination. Regardless the means, our ladies are headed to the Provincial championships for a chance to avenge their league playoff defeat.
The only problem now is the Provincials are five weeks away. There are a bunch of practices scheduled between now and then; with a few of those likely becoming exhibition games, but ya gotta figure in a month’s time a lot of players will have lost that hockey luvin’ feelin’. It will be interesting to see how long it might take some to get back up to speed. Other teams, having advanced further, or who’ve had to battle through bigger divisions will not have had a chance to get rusty. Then again perhaps ours will surprise and be chomping at the bit. In either case, we’ll be cheering them on.
The Provincials will also set the stage for 2013-14 season rep tryouts happening in our centre just one week later. On that note, I’m going to have to get back up to speed myself as I’ve managed to secure another head coaching position; a new adventure which will no doubt provide plenty of hockey and rink-related fodder for the next 12+ months. Feel free to send along your congratulations and/or condolences as you see fit. I’m hopeful a year’s experience followed by a year in the stands will serve me well to guide my new charges through a successful season. More on my specific plans and aspirations for next season to follow. Let’s finish this one on a high-note first. Go Sharks Go!