When the Irwins team trickled into the locker room last Wednesday night, we lacked a leader. Team sponsor & captain Bill Goodman was MIA and the team was wary after our Week 1 defeat. As we discussed ways to organize our bench, the team started to come together. To make it through the night without embarrassing ourselves, we organized the offense and defense separately and then went over the basic positioning on offense and defense to maximize our efforts.
We stuck to our game plan of set lines and short shifts to keep our players focused and fresh. We learned the hazards of disorganization and over exertion during our first game and hoped to move past that. We focused more on improvement than winning.
Even though YDD showed up with a short bench, we recognized their skill. And that skill came to light almost immediately when they went 2-0 early. Both goals were legit and were symptoms of our team adapting to the system and each other. We held our heads high, dug in our heels, and stuck to the game plan.
When we scored the first goal, the bench was excited. By the time we scored our last, both benches were in disbelief. We won the game 5-2 with strong performances from everybody. Yes, we had three full lines while YDD had less than two, but their overall experience is much greater than ours. They played a valiant game and we played as a team.
Hopefully we can carry that momentum to tonight's game. Remembering what we learned about positioning and communication could prove to be vital. We are facing a Funky Pickle team that is an unknown quantity. With almost as much player movement in the off season as Irwins, they are undoubtedly still looking to gel. High calibre players like Josh Feathers, Rod Bragg, Justin West, Jake Anonson, and goaltender Tony Hansen can certainly bring the heat. After a surprising 3-0 loss to the Puck Hawgs in week 1 and an even more surprising 3-2 win over Alien last week, Funky Pickle comes in at .500, just like us.
Tonight's late start (9:55 pm) could prove to be the ultimate difference maker. Lord knows who will make it and who won't for these games. We showed last week what can happen if one side has a depleted bench. Which players make it will also impact the final score...