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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Championship Week - One Down, One To Go

Two teams took the ice at Buccaneer Arena last night to compete for the inaugural Fleming Cup, a memorial trophy named for a local hockey player that passed away on the ice a year ago. Naming the trophy after a player from our league was a very touching gesture by league organizer Joe Bafia. Ever the hockey fan, Gabe Fleming was surely watching his many friends on the Cup O Kryptonite and Red Alert rosters as they fought for the trophy named in his honor.
When I got to the arena last night, a few of my teammates were celebrating an indoor soccer championship won just hours before. Others were being entertained by the consolation game between Alien and Voodoo. In the locker room, we all seemed to be at different levels of preparedness which worried me.
Due to this week's heat wave and the two earlier games, the ice was still wet when the puck was dropped. We seemed to be going in different directions and communication was nonexistent. Red Alert scored within the first two minutes. It seemed like I had just gotten off the ice and the second face off had just dropped when they scored again. We could have been done, but instead we woke up.
I wish I could give you a true play-by-play for the rest of the game, but honestly I cannot remember the specifics. I remember the excitement when our first goal went in and the elation of the second. Our bench erupted with the third and fourth. Every big save by Blaine Barker was huge. We clicked like never before.
As our unanswered scoring onslaught carried over to the third period, we realized that we were going to win the game. Our focus never deteriorated and our game plan never wavered. Red Alert relied heavily - almost exclusively - on two players. The Battista brothers are known around the league for their competitive play and ability to take over a game. From what I could tell, each played at least 80% of the game and there was always at least one on the ice. Shutting them down was our priority; other than the two gaffes early in the game, we succeeded.
After scoring nine unanswered goals, the boys in blue emerged victorious and were the first to hoist the Fleming. Without any established league "super stars" on our roster, we have always been a cooperative team. Although certain players tended to be regular and heavy scorers, Cup always managed to work the puck around and communicate. On paper, we looked like potential bottom feeders. On the ice we gelled and demonstrated the ability of teamwork to overcome perceived short comings.
I would like to thank Joe for organizing this league. I would like to thank Matt for putting this team together and letting me be a part of it. Most of all I would like to thank my teammates for their hard work and dedication to playing together despite the odds. Great work guys.
Tomorrow I am heading to Omaha with the Valley lacrosse team to finish our quest for the Nebraska State Championship. Our semifinal game is at 8:00 against Creighton Prep. Although we have lost to Prep twice this season, I am confident that we will not lose again. I fully intend to come home Saturday night with the championship trophy.

Tribe 7