Just two days and technically 45 minutes after an epic win to salvage their series, the Boy’s team’s season came to less than dramatic halt on the backside of a 4-2 loss. Momentum from the previous game certainly carried the visiting team through the first two and a half periods of the game. A tied series felt like a real possibility as the boys opened a 2-0 lead with some very dominant play. A two-nil lead could have just as easily been four-nil as the visiting side was firing on all cylinders.
Then the middle of the came turned out to be a virtual crest in the road. Aggressive play tuned into timid play; particularly in the defensive zone. The entire team seemed to collapse back into their goaltender. The home team became the aggressor after scoring their first goal. While the Boy and his teammates never gave up, they certainly seemed to back down (or at least back up). The home team, already up four points to two in the six point series, finished the second period with a 3-2 lead. The boys had 15 minutes to square the score, which would have kept their season dimly alive. But another goal by the home side, quickly deflated already fragile spirits. Play in the rest of the period was noticeably desperate and panicked. The crowd got quiet as we too could feel the game, series and season slipping away.
An opposing penalty and resulting power play opportunity in the last two minutes of the game provided one last ray of hope. The goalie would be pulled to create a six on four player advantage, which would in turn provide a couple of scoring chances. However, the soon-to-be victors keeper held strong to preserve the win.
The game/series, which had its fair share of animosity, unfortunately ended on a sour note with a late penalty then a game ending skirmish. The refs, to their credit, were quick to dissipate the situation. At the end of any series, good or bad, a time-honoured tradition has the combatants shake hands in a show of good sportsmanship. In a show of poor sportsmanship, one of the victorious coaches chose to not shake hands with his counterparts – not the right message to be sending to a group of 15 and 16 year old boys.
In quick retrospect, our group of boys had a pretty good yet that provided a lot of unique tests of individual and team character. While they didn’t achieve all of their goals, I think some of them learned and grew – most of them enjoyed their time with this team. They and we all have a substantial store of good and bad memories.
Now the focus turns back to the Devil, who is still wrapped tightly in two exciting series – the first of which resumes in a couple of days. Just enough time to take a breath and ease some shaky nerves. With all the talk of two long seasons, I’m still not ready to see them both end.