I missed the last two games of the season due to a family vacation, but I returned to find that we won both of them—meaning that we finished in first place, with a record of 11-0-1. There was some drama while the fourth playoff spot was determined (different combinations of outcomes would mean different teams in the fourth spot), but it was eventually determined that we'd be playing the White Lightning in the first round on Saturday the 17th. The White Lighting are the team that we only managed to beat 1-0 in our two regular-season meetings.
Everyone got to the rink early on Saturday, but Angie Wong was missing because she had to work, and Jo was traveling for a wedding. A.T. didn't qualify for the playoffs because she hadn't played enough regular-season games with us, but she came anyway to cheer us on and work the doors on the bench (totally necessary, given the bench configuration). With both A.T. and Jo out, that left us a bit short on D, and with Angie gone, that meant a total of 15 skaters. To make the lines even, Meghan moved back to D. (Wah!) Instead of Meghan, Shelly and I had Angie G. (Little Angie) at Right Wing.
This turned out to be a great thing for us, because Angie G. was on freakin' FIRE. She came out smokin', scored a goal as I was coming off the ice on our first or second shift, and was all over our opponents. She even passed well, for goodness sake. I believe it was Angie who passed to me instead of shooting herself when we were both down low on our next shift out, and I took a shot. The goalie was down and covering the net pretty well, but with her weight shifted toward Angie. I'm still not quite sure how I did it—I'm guessing all the practicing and the visualization really helped—but I buried the puck in the far top corner of the net, behind the goalie's head. Shelly said I tilted my head back and closed my eyes after the shot, like I was either giving thanks or expressing extreme relief, but I don't remember it. I just remember thinking, "wow, that worked!"
I believe it was Ruthann who scored the next goal, but it was a bit hard to see from my spot on the bench. And sadly, there's not much else I remember from this game aside from a quite good penalty kill that Alison, Shelly, and I participated in (who was the 4th person, Meghan? I can't remember). It sticks in my mind because we did a good job of sending one person in to attack (either Shelly or Alison), and always making sure someone got back (a couple times that was me). At one point during this penalty kill I basically just stood at the blueline while Shelly singlehandedly kept at least two opponents plus the goalie busy in the offensive zone. She had at least two shots on goal and probably killed about 20 or 30 seconds before the Lightning were able to clear the puck back to the neutral zone.
We ended up winning the game 5-1, with additional goals by Shelly (again while I was in the process of leaving the ice—who needs me, anyway?) and Steph.
On Sunday, those of us who didn't stay to watch the Delaware Phoenix play the Lehigh Valley Wicked awoke to find that the Phoenix had come out on top, 5-2. Personally, I'd kinda hoped to play the Wicked, since I'd missed both of the regular-season games against them, and I wanted to see what they were like. We were 2-0 against the Phoenix, though (vs. 1-0-1 against the Wicked), so the Phoenix seemed like a good opponent to draw.
EXCEPT THEY WEREN'T. Oh, they were good opponents in the sense that they played really fairly—no dirtiness, no nastiness, etc.—and in the sense that they played really well. They just weren't so great if you consider that we wanted to WIN.
On my first shift out on the ice I had my legs accidentally taken out from under me by an opponent who fell. I tucked as best I could—funnily enough, my upper abs are still sore from the speed and violence of that tuck—but I still hit the back of my head on the ice, resulting in an instant headache and whiplash-related neck pain for the past few days. The game went pretty much downhill from there for me; it felt like I could never really get it together. Not because of the fall, which I forgot about a shift later, but because I got confused... and as anyone who's ever practiced with me knows, if I get confused, I get frustrated, and if I get frustrated, it's a short hop to angry.
The confusion started when Tiff went down with an injury to her left leg and had to sit out for the rest of the first period. We ended up changing the lines on every shift, with Billy letting us know which three forwards were going out next. (This is how I ended up at right wing for a couple shifts.) It became obvious to me that while my speed, confidence, and shooting ability have all improved this year, much of my success with the Freeze is due to the rhythym I've developed with my linemates. I usually know where Shelly and Meghan are going to be, and both of them are really good at catching my sometimes off-target passes. (Meghan is especially easy to hit with cross-ice passes; all you have to do is fling it hard to a space about 5-15 feet in front of where she is now, and she'll get to it.) I didn't have this rhythym with other players, and the Phoenix were so good at getting to the puck, blocking passing lanes, and just generally being in the way that even when I looked up, I often couldn't find any teal jerseys. I also could have skated more with the puck, especially when breaking out at right wing, which I didn't do.
We ended up losing 6-3, with me being on the ice for two of the goals scored against us and for none of the ones we scored against them. Steph had the first goal for the Freeze; she just kept working, as she usually does (see the video of her from our last game against the Phoneix, and you'll get the idea), until she finally got a shot to go in. Laurie Narciso had the last two in her last shift on the ice. The second one went in from an impossible angle—she was standing at about the goal line at the time—with three seconds left, interrupting the Phoenix bench's countdown to victory. :) I screamed "HAAAAT TRIIIIIICK!" when they returned to the faceoff circle, but three goals in 56 seconds is a lot to ask of one person.
The two quick goals reminded me of why I'd wanted to score early and often against this team: To take the goalie out of it. Even really good goalies can get flustered when scored upon, which is probably how Meghan and Shelly managed to score on this goalie in quick succession the last time we played them (because Donna had softened her up on the previous shift, I think). Anyway, it wasn't in the cards this day, but it was still an amazing season. I loved playing with this team—I had so much more fun than I ever expected, and improved my skills to boot—and now I can't wait for September! Many thanks to all my teammates and especially to Billy for making it fun and educational.
Posted by Lori in Freeze ~ Fall/Winter 2006 | March 21, 2007·05:57 PM