A little over a month into the Devil’s hockey season and our new team has yet to notch a victory through nine games. Our record stands at 0-5-4 with six of the nine games being settled by one goal or less. In the regular season, into which we have only waded two games deep, the squad has skated to a 2-1 loss and a 1-1 tie; both of which they could have/should have won save for a bounce here or there. Regardless the record on the league website shouts 0-1-1.
The girls have played some very good hockey and have deserved a better fate in most of these early games, which could obviously have gone either way based on the close margins I’ve mentioned. In a few, we’ve entered the third period either tied or with the lead and were unable to seal the deal; a situation I am all too familiar with from my first head coaching stint two years ago. That team, I shudder to recall, only picked up three victories in the regular season primarily due to a lack of finish. The third period was their nemesis. At one point, I considered lobbying to have the second and third periods combined into one in order to avoid a final frame letdown. Two years later, I’m hoping to not have to invoke this plea again.
Lots of people believe wins and losses are just stats, while others considered them the be all and end all with understandably no better point of reference to measure the success of a team. However, I have to concur with the former when it comes to this team or teams like them. I have to reckon back to how success is defined in our coaching certification courses; not by wins, but by the overall improvement of the team and individuals on the team over time. My own measure of success has always also included making sure the players have a positive experience (not that wins can’t go a long way in ensuring such an experience). To that end, I am most encouraged by this group’s attitude and spirit so far. Again, it is early and perhaps the current winless streak has not yet sunk in with them (as much as it has with me, the coaching staff and I’m sure the odd parent watching from the stands), but they are a pretty loose and positive bunch. Prior to the last game, our trainer aka Hockey Momma had me peer into the dressing room to watch them perform a pre-game huddle, shoulder-to-shoulder with beats blasting from an amplified iPod. On the bench, the mood has been relatively positive as well with players encouraging each other to soldier on. They too may realize how well they have competed thus far and recognize they will be rewarded for their efforts in due course. Something I likely need to remind myself here again.
That being said, here I am at 5:30am (five hours prior to game one of a guaranteed four-game and hopefully six-game tournament), having already been up for well over an hour, deliberating how I can get the girls to commit to our 2-1-2 forecheck and rehearsing my pre-game pep talk. Because while a bit of me wants to placate the fans in the stands, a bigger part sees the promise of a group of players who have shown the potential to be a really good TEAM who can capture a bunch of those elusive Ws when all of the stars align.
So wish us/them luck. I sincerely hope by the end of the season, if not much sooner, I will look back at this as the mere early season ramblings of another uptight coach. In the meantime, I’m headed back to the drawing board.