The Devil’s season ended with a thud a couple of nights ago as game four of what should have been a three-game series found them on the wrong side of a 5-2 score. Before the game, there were some nervous parents, including yours truly, pacing around and trying to decide where to stand for the game in order to satisfy their superstition. One parent even decided to stay home so as not to jinx the team. He was away for their last win and then present for their last loss so he chose to stay away. I actually remembered just in time that the team manager had asked if I would handle the timekeeping/scoring for this critical game. In retrospect, I wish I hadn’t agreed to perform these duties.
As the game started, the girls appeared to be nervous too, letting an opponent walk in from the corner with the puck to score the first goal only a minute and a half in. I think we all knew that getting behind by a goal was not preferred. Goals had been at a premium for the Devil’s team throughout the playoffs. Prospects for a win got even bleaker a few minutes later as the visiting side deposited another puck in behind our goalie. A one-goal deficit was not good; coming back from two goals down was nearly insurmountable. The Devil would bang home a rebound to cut the lead to 2-1, but the bad guys would restore their two-goal advantage. The girls would spend an awful lot of the game in the penalty box. For whatever reason, they simply did not play their typical game. Many of the penalties were for hooking, which meant they were getting beat to the puck. Once you’re beat, the natural reaction is to reach out with your stick to try to slow your opponent down.
With around three minutes left in the game, the Devil and her mates would cut the lead to 4-2. The visitors would take a couple of penalties around the two-minute mark. After pulling their goalie, the home side had a rare six on three advantage for about 3-0 seconds. However, in that time they were not able to cut into the lead. An empty net goal would seal the deal; sending the bad guys on to the provincial playdowns and leaving our girls with countenances that hollered out their dejection. Just like that the season was over.
We do still have a few practices left. The first was yesterday. Only four players showed up for what became a disjointed game of shinny. Not surprising with the season over and March break just beginning.
The remaining optional practices will be primarily used to keep the girls’ legs loose for next season’s tryouts, which start in about a month’s time. Yup, we all get but a wee rest before the cycle of a season begins anew. Particularly your truly who has to start thinking about evaluators, on-ice helpers and drills to help select my own team. New teammates, parents, coaches, friends and stories will follow in short order. I’m just hoping I can find time to keep telling them.