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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.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Is the Third Time the Charm?

On the heels of Saturday's win, Valley heads to Omaha on Friday night for the league's semifinal games. There will be two games Friday night to determine which teams will compete for the league championship on Saturday.

The first game of the night (6:00 pm) pits #3 Millard West against #4 Lincoln. Both teams finished 11-2 in league play and split their series this season: 8-4MW, 13-4L. West lost to Valley 13-10 in the second week and beat Creighton Prep 10-7 on April 21. Lincoln beat Valley 7-6 on April 11 and fell to Prep 3-6 on May 4.

Official prediction: Lincoln will win by three to become the first team outside of Omaha to play in the state championship. This will be just the second time in the league's history that Millard West will not play in the championship.

Friday's second game (8:30 pm) pits #1 Creighton Prep against #4 Valley. Prep's only loss in league play came at the hands of Millard West. In addition to the aforementioned loss to Lincoln, Valley fell to Prep in both of their previous meetings: 13-7, 10-7.

Valley was missing key players in both games; everyone is expected to be on the field Friday night. This may or may not be enough to overcome the Junior Jays, but at least we know we will finally be giving them everything we have. With a spot the state championship game on the line, the Tigers should easily build upon the intensity of the May 8 game. Although the final score showed a three goal differential, the play was much closer.

Official Prediction: This will be a tight, back-and-forth game. Both teams will struggle to keep their emotions in check. Whichever squad does a better job of keeping its players in control, will have the advantage. Cockiness is not foreign to either team; with the two earlier losses, the Tigers definitely are more humble. This works in their favor. Valley will win by two to become the first Iowa team in the Nebraska state championships. This will be the first time ever that Prep fails to make the final game.

The consolation game will be held at 6:00 pm Saturday. The state championship will be held at 8:00 pm. All four games will be held at Tranquility Park in Omaha.
Championship Prediction: The winner of the North Division/Semifinal 2 (Valley vs Prep) will win the state championship by three goals.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

2010 Summer League Registration Reminder

The 2010 Summer League is just two weeks away.
Click here to register.
I need your registration fee and paperwork ASAP to get reversible jerseys ordered. I cannot place the order until I have the money.
If you are registering via mail, please email me your size and number preference so I can get you added.
Registration is set to end this Saturday, May 22. Please do not hesitate.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Monday Morning Tiger Report - Week 8

In a display of overly aggressive play on Saturday, Burke fought hard against Valley for a spot in Friday night's semi finals. Emotions were high on the Burke side and they knew they were the underdogs. They gave it their all.
Fortunately Valley stepped up their games as well. The Tigers executed the offense brilliantly at times which led to three players with hat tricks. Including eight grader Crites, who opened the scoring for the Tigers and scored his first hatrick of the season. Did I mention Crites' second goal was so Gary Gait that ole G22 would have shed a tear? A thing of beauty.
Valley won 11-7 despite getting lazy late and advances to the semifinals Friday night.

Tribe 7