Tournament Play

The first test of the new season for the Boy’s team is an early bird tournament that started this evening about an hour from home. Tournaments are generally good because teams have an opportunity to play against teams they wouldn’t play during the regular season.  Pre-season tournaments are good because there are fewer expectations and less pressure to win. Of course, the GOAL is still to WIN.

Every tournament is a little bit different in the way its structured.  Some differ in the way they assign points for games won, periods won, goals for or goals against. Sometimes the criteria for advancing beyond a preliminary round can be a little confusing.  The myriad of tie breaking scenarios is quite often enough to make one’s head spin. 

I immediately recall two tournaments in particular where the scoring formats produced some curious results.  

In one instance, the Boy’s team was able to advance to a playoff round despite having recorded no wins (one tie and two one-goal losses) in a three game round robin preliminary format.  It seems they were able to amass enough points by having won or tied individual periods to beat out two other teams; one of which actually had a round robin victory.  To make matters worse, this was the Boy’s teams home tournament and onlookers undoubtedly raised a Spockian eyebrow at the home teams good fortune.  How could a team with no wins advance? A final rusty nail in the proverbial coffin would find the Boy’s team going on to win the entire tournament as they managed to play progressively better from match to match all the way to a victory in the championship final.

The other odd situation I recall found the Boy’s team on the opposite end of a wonky points per game won/points per period won situation.  In this tournament, the Boys came out strong in each of their three round robin games and built up commanding leads in the first period of each. However, in two of those three games, although the Boy’s team won, the opposition came back hard and won or tied the second and third periods.  As fate would have it, one of these two opponents would win their other two games and a majority of the periods in each; thereby vaulting them over the Boy’s team on the basis of aggregate game plus period points.  What seemed to be a very successful tournament ended with a bewildering THUD.

If this all sounds confusing that’s only because it is.  There will always be groups of fathers, coaches and tournament officials huddled around the posted game results, which are usually prominently displayed on a main arena wall, trying to figure out all of the permutations and who the potential playoff opponents will be.  If Team A beats Team B by 3 goals but then loses to Team C by 2, ties Team D and mercies Team E; what’s the square root of Pi and Who’s on First?

Last season the Devil’s team was playing in a tournament, which was run at multiple arenas (as most are). Early on we were told game results were being dutifully updated on a tournament Web site. Going into their final game, the Devil’s coach knew there were a couple of events that needed to occur in order for the team to advance to the playoff round.  First off, the Devil’s team needed to produce a convincing (at least four goal) win against a tough opponent. Secondly, a game starting 30 minutes earlier at one of the other rinks had to have a specific winner.  With this in mind, I was asked by the coach to check score of the other game on a laptop out in the arena lobby, so he would be able to determine whether or not they had a legitimate shot to progress.  Halfway through the second period of the Devil’s game, I was given the secret signal from her coach to go out to the lobby and check the score of the other game. Of course, we were not dealing with real-time results and I spent the better part of 15 minutes hitting <REFRESH> and ultimately coming up with nothing in the way of a score.  When I returned to the action a fellow spectator promptly reported that the Devil had scored a superlative goal and had a fine assist to go with it – both of which I missed during my fruitless sojourn to the arena lobby. Post-game I had to tell a white lie and say that, “Of course I saw the beautiful top-shelf goal.” The Devil’s team did surprisingly win their game quite handily and the right team did also claim victory at the other rink; thereby allowing the Devil’s team to move on. However, moving on meant a third game in a 12-hour span for a bunch of dead-tired 12 year olds. So that’s where that tournament ended.

The Boy’s first game this evening was a white-knuckled, edge-of-your-seat, 2-1 victory.  The team looked pretty good in their first official game as a team. We’ll hope they fare as well or better in their next two outings.  I’m not sure whether or not periods won has any bearing on the tournament standings, but I’m sure coaches and parents will eventually be huddled around the bristol board covered wall, pulling out scientific calculators or multi-colored abacuses to see which teams will face off in the quarter finals.

Did I mention that I love spending my weekend on my way to or in a rink? Which is fortunate because the Devil has three exhibition games of her own in the next three days. We should be drawing straws at some point tomorrow to figure out exactly who is going where and when.


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