In our kids' hockey division there are two rounds of best of three games playoffs. This weekend was round one.
Friday night, Eric, accompanied by Shel, was playing in the city north of us. His team has had a ROUGH year with a nasty coach firing in the middle of it. The team Eric's team had to play to get on to the next round of the playoffs has, in teen speak "owned" them. Bad loss after bad loss with a few more bad losses thrown in. However, good things have been happening and the team has been rebuilding, practicing and coming on strong. All those efforts paid off when Eric's team beat theie nemesis in Game #1 on their home ice, 5 - 0. YEAH ERIC!!
At the same time, Greg's team was on the ice playing the Big City team. A Big City team means they have WAY more players to pick from and a larger talent pool to use, and as such, they usually, more often than not, completely dominate the smaller cities. Greg's team beat them 6-0.
Yahoooo!! Two shut outs in two games! Yeah boys!! One win down, one more to go to move on to the second round.
Saturday morning dawned with much tension in our house as Greg was completely focused on the games yet to play. If Greg's team lost this game, the final and deciding game would have to be played in Big City. It was not an option Greg wanted to face. He awoke exactly as the coach had instructed -- three hours before game time. He consumed a pefectly planned out breakfast exactly as mom had instructed. He paced. He growled. He wanted to play.
Big City Team came out flying and ready to avenge their humiliation of the night before. Greg's team struggled with a combination of nerves and over-confidence slipping behind two nothing by the middle of the second period. Greg was finally able to put his team on the board late in the second with a goal as he slid past the net on his stomach. It was exciting and woke his team up.
At the beginning of the third period, his team managed another goal and finally the game was scored. For 19 minutes the teams battled back and forth with a few scoring chances but nothing connecting. The stress was palatable. Big City Team was playing for their very hockey lives knowing that they were on the brink of elimination. Greg's team was playing for pride and the glory of winning on home ice.
Finally the coaches called a time out with less than a minute to play in the third period. I watched as Greg was put out to play. This is an honor for a kid the youngest player on his team. A visible sign that his coach sees his ability, his talent but also his determination and focus, and his faith in Greg was to be rewarded.
With 37 seconds left on the clock, Greg was perfectly positioned to receive a pass from behind the net and scooped the puck up behind the goalie and scored. I screamed my freaking head off as did every other parent in the stands (and so did the horde of teenage girls that now flock to his games, which is another post all together!). His team won. Big City eliminated!!! Greg the MVP of the series and he was one happy, happy boy!
Immediately after Greg received his accolades and was off the ice, we bundled into the van to head up to watch Eric face his opponent in the city further north. Again, his team "owned" the opposition, finishing with a 9-5 win over a shocked and disappointed team.
It was off to celebrate with good friends the victory of my hard working and talented boys. Most importantly, it means no hockey for Sunday. Thanks kids!.