The Boy’s team ended their regular season this past week with three games in a row against a team with a perfect record; an underwhelming 0-27-0. That’s right; zero wins, 27 losses and zero ties.
This team was unfortunately the victim of a flawed player selection process which allowed several players who should have been on the team at this level to forego trying out to play on a team at a lower level. These players effectively wanted to play at the lower level so they could win more games and maybe a championship at the end of the year against presumably weaker competition. The lower team these players were able to make is in second place in their division; while the other team, as mentioned, has a perfect winless record. In fact, coming into the final three games of the thirty game schedule, this team had only scored 14 goals (less than 1/2 a goal per game) and had given up nearly 200 goals. How much fun could these kids, some of whom had never played rep hockey before, be having. And we do try to keep coming back to this being the whole point of minor hockey — having fun.
At the other side of the rink was the Boy’s team, having to finish their regular season and enter the playoffs against a team who would provide little competition. The first meeting of the year saw our boys record a 7-0 win.
In game one of the final three, the first good scoring chance came seven seconds in as a quick shot beat the goalie, ringing off the cross bar behind him. A few minutes later the boys let their guard down and Team 0-27-0 counted the first marker on a weak shot. The tying goal would not come until there were only three minutes left in the first period. A second would be added before the first frame ended. But the opposing goaltender proved to be sharp (you have to figure he’d had plenty of practice in the previous 27 contests). He made some spectacular saves. At one point our goalie slapped his stick on the ice in approval. Yet, the game ended with our boys on the the right side of a 6-1 score.
What was not positive in the first game was the loss of a player to a two-game suspension on a questionable major boarding penalty. In games like these you hope to escape with no suspensions and no injuries. The player in question was one of the lastever intentionally commit an illegal play. Rumor has it this particular player’s dressing room nickname is “knuckles” in parody of his non-aggressive demeanour.
Game two would be quite a different affair. If the boys held back in game one, they certainly didn’t in this second match, as the scoreboard revealed 6-0 after one period. They continued to skate, pass and shoot to win. We found out later they were shooting on a temporary back-up goalie who was two years their junior – not the keeper they encountered in the previous game. The final score was 18-0. The game proved to be nothing more than a stat-padding exercise; akin to a scrimmage in practice. There was certainly little to no cheering from the home side. Not a fun game to watch.
The regular goalie would return for game three, backstopping his squad to a 9-2 loss, which saw his team score the first goal again. Their netminder had another strong game that could have just as easily had a score of 20-2 if not for his heroics. One player from the Boy’s team even went up and gave him kudos after he stoned him with a great glove save. This game also found the now 0-29-0 team floating two players up near their opponent’s blue line for at least half the game in an attempt to generate a breakaway or two, which indeed it did on a couple of occasions.
And so the regular season ended for our boys in third place with a record of 16-5-9. A far cry from 0-30-0. The Boy, for his part, commented after the second game that he didn’t think he could handle losing every game as they did; though we heard they did win a game in a tournament against a U.S. team, who were obviously themselves misplaced. He wondered how some of them could be laughing during these beatings, but what else could you expect them to do at this point.
The playoffs start in just a few days with the boys taking on the sixth place team; a good regular season rival who they will need to be on their toes against. Let’s hope the final three games didn’t serve to develop bad habits and lacklustre play. The boys and coaching staff are looking forward to a strong run. The playoffs are a whole new season, where anything can happen for the teams who are best-focused and disciplined.
Let’s also hope the players from the team with the perfect record haven’t lost their love of the game altogether. Maybe between all the goals against they were able to have some fun.