Game 4: Vixens

Our victory against the Cross Chix last night put us in 2nd place in the Koho division, so this morning we played the 1st place team from the Jofa division, with the winner moving on to the finals. When I woke up with Austen's feet in my back at 5:30am, I found that my hip, knee, back, and even my tailbone (which I'd fallen on twice—I forgot to mention that I took a shot on goal with my weight on the wrong foot in Game 2, causing me to fall hard on my butt) hurt less than I'd expected them to. What hurt worse were my hands. I'd forgotten how 3 games in 24 hours can make one's hands stiff and sore. Of course, I then made the ache worse by blogging from Al's Blackberry for a couple hours while Austen and Al slept in.

I discovered when I went to lift Austen out of the bed prior to leaving for the rink that my arms were also very sore, but I can't really complain; the soreness makes me feel like I've *done* something, like I'm stronger and tougher for the effort. I feel athletic for the first time in months (and I now can't wait for the summer hockey season to start!). But before we move on to the summer season, I need to write about Game 4...

trying to close off a passing lane
me trying to cut off a passing lane

When I watched the Vixens during the warmup, my impression was that they were a pretty good match for us; number 14 had a slapshot, but other than that we seemed about even. This impression was strengthened a few shifts into the game, when I noticed that they were making all the same mistakes we were making (bunching up, losing the puck in their skates, not passing well, etc.). I figured we could take them, even if I personally felt slower and less coordinated than I had in the previous three games. (I also felt like I had no edges, which might have been true.)

Al's impression was that I looked about the same as I had in yesterday's game against the Flying Beavers, but I was pretty sure I hadn't lost nearly as many pucks between my legs as I did in this game. At least one time this lack of coordination worked to my advantage, however: I was playing Right Wing (which I'm less comfortable at than Left or Center), and I'd positioned myself against the boards for a breakout pass. When the puck got to me, I guess I moved to skate with it before it actually hit my stick, and it zoomed between my legs and continued up the boards. The two opponents who jumped on me were just as surprised by this development as I was, and the puck cleared the blueline untouched by any of us. "I guess my fuckup fucked us all up," I said cheerfully. "I thought you had that!" said one woman. "So did I!" I replied.

It wasn't all friendliness. I heard from Jess and Kelly that some of the Vixens were complaining about their skill level. "And we're even playing wrong-handed," said Kelly. "Yeah," said Jess, grinning. "We switched sticks." That explained why they weren't breaking out as quickly as in previous games. :) A couple shifts later, however, after a harrowing near-goal when the two of them lost the puck repeatedly in our zone, Kelly held her stick out to Jess and said, "OK, switch back."

chasing the puck into the corner
I chase the puck into the corner, while Rachel sets up in the slot,
Kelly patrols the blueline, and Michele hangs out just outside the zone

Whether they were playing wrong-handed or not, Kelly and Jess managed to give us forwards some nice passes, and a few times we even managed to pass among ourselves. I know I felt like Donna (RW), Rachel (C), and I (LW) made a good line; we were on the verge of scoring several times, but never seemed to be able to get the puck in. This was most likely due to the yellow goalie, whom we'd laughed at prior to the game; it turned out that while she looked like a canary in a cage from the bench, from the slot she just looked like a big yellow target. Seriously, it was virtually impossible to aim at anything but the yellow, which meant that we were constantly hitting her pads.

Deanna sets up low while I try a backhander from the slot
Deanna camps out near the crease
while I try to make something happen in the slot

Actually, now that I think of it, the Big Yellow Blob probably impeded Donna more than the rest of us—if I remember correctly, Donna scored every one of the Spitfire goals in this tournament, and it was she who had the most promising shots in this game. My shots were most likely stopped because they weren't very hard, and Rachel's... I have no idea why Rachel never got the puck past this goalie. It certainly wasn't for lack of trying, because this was probably Rachel's best game of the four. She skated hard, worked her tail off in the slot, and had more shots on net than in the previous games.

Sadly, all that work was for naught, literally: We didn't manage to score a single goal. The Vixens, meanwhile, scored three. I was on the ice for one of them; both D were scrabbling with one or more Vixens on Rocky's right side, so I went down low to cover the back door. I figured I was in the zone anyway, I might as well make sure no one could doink it in easily from behind Rocky, and maybe even clear the puck if it skidded across the crease. What I didn't want to do was "help" the D by jumping into the scrum in front of Rocky, as this almost always results in further confusion. It didn't much matter where I went, though—there was enough confusion with the two D, the one or two Vixens, and Rocky that the puck went in from that side.

I think with about 6 or 8 minutes to go in the third period (and with the Vixens up 2-0), Michele said to me on the bench, "Time out at a minute and a half?" Me: "What for?" Michele: "Um, to try to send in a power line?" Me: "I don't think it'll make a difference." I don't think we've ever managed to score a goal with a last-minute "power line" in any tournament I've ever been to, so there were hard feelings (about missing a shift or not being considered a "power" player) for nothing. Plus I had a feeling there'd be complaints from at least one quarter, and personally, I didn't want to hear them. I was happy with the hockey I'd played so far, and I didn't want to end this game with both a loss *and* an argument.

In the end, Donna got the MVP award again but gave it to Rachel; I guess Donna saw what I saw in Rachel's game. Because we lost this semi-final the tournament was over for us, but I can't say I was sad. (I don't think I've ever been sad about not getting to the final on Sunday; by that time, I've usually had plenty of hockey, and I'm happy to have time to myself/my family for exploring or relaxing. The same was true on this trip.) I *was* sad to say goodbye to J-W (also known as the other Michelle), whom I'd spent quite a bit of time chatting with in the locker room, at the hotel, and in the car between the hotel and the rink. Michele, J-W, Donna, Deanna, Rachel, and I (all of us Spitfires of one sort or another ;) talked about possibly going to another tournament together in the future, with LA or Las Vegas being the most likely candidates. Sounds like a great idea to me.

Posted by Lori in Vancouver Tournament 2005 and | May 29, 2005·04:39 PM