March 5, 2007

What a weekend!

Posted in hockey at 2:58 am by Mike Milinkovich

Four games in two days.

The Desperadoes played in the Almonte tournament this weekend and had an outstanding outing. Our second game against Stittsville was probably our best game of the year. The team played with amazing determination. The entire coaching staff has been trying to get the team to play more physically all year, and I think for the very first time we played a game where we dominated that part of the game. This is a bit of an exaggeration, but we’re more used to winning on style and grace than hit and grind. In that game we did both and it was a beauty.

Unfortunately, in the championship game we came out a little bit flat. In my view we just weren’t skating in the first period and ended up down 1-0. In the second period we gave up a second goal, but by the end we were starting to challenge more. During the huddle between the second and third periods, Dylan Paquette said “guys, we can do this”, and we almost did. In the third period, we really carried the play to Orleans. I thought we clearly dominated, and tying the score at 2-2 with 55 seconds to go was probably one of the best moments of the season. It really sucked to lose in overtime.

Here is a datapoint: in the entire city of Orleans, there are only two house league “A” teams. Those teams are good, and I believe that we gave a team better than any in Nepean a real scare.

There was a plan behind why we booked into this tournament at this time of the year. The first reason was that Lanark county teams are generally more physical. Getting a tune-up on hard-hitting hockey is a good idea before going into the play-offs. The second reason was to work on what it takes to be a winning team. All through Saturday we coaches were working on the defensive side of the game, and with two shut-outs out of three games I think the message was getting through.

But the championship game taught the team an invaluable lesson to take into the playoffs: You cannot afford to take a period off. Let’s hope everyone remembers that over the next couple of weeks.

Sunday morning’s league game was a real shocker. Before the game the entire dressing room was whining about how tired and sore they all were from the tournament. Frankly, I was expecting the team to go out and lose. I mean, really, they had every excuse available to them if they had come out soft and slow.

Instead they kicked butt. What a great way to end the season.