Last Thursday we arrived, as we usually do, in time to catch the last period of the JV game, against the always mighty Spuds of Moorhead. Discussions along the way in the arena centered around the excitement and possibility of getting a third sheet of ice. I know from our skating days, way back when we felt comfortable skating before we entered our 60’s, that Vinnie (the rink manager) has always favored that 3rd sheet – both because of the demand for ice time we have now for the two, but three sheets makes it easier to host tournaments. Anyway, back to the hockey . . . we were amazed and delighted to see Onna O’Connor (32) was back playing, for our last mention her we thought she may have had an ACL. Onna is the one player on the team we have “known” since she was a wee one because of her folks connection with the golf club.
[Foremost, of course, we’re all glad she’s healthy . . .]
[And then suddenly it seemed like our bench numbers doubled. The JV has been playing with 9 players total. If nothing else, they’re going to be in shape!]
[Talia Olson (27), 8th-grade defenseman. I discovered when I got home I had the camera on the wrong setting – I’ve messed up before and I’ll mess up again. So, I lost about of half the photos because I was on the wrong ISO number (is that cheering I hear in the background?). Even some of the ones I’ll use here may be a tad fuzzy. Apologies.]
[Kenzie Abrahamson (17), sophomore center, and Jade Bollman (22) freshman forward]
[McKenna Schroeder (28), sophomore forward who also plays on the varsity.]
[But no goal.]
[The Spuds called a timeout with about a minute and a half left in the game, no doubt instructing the goalie when to come off for that extra skater.]
[The Cards never let them out of their zone for that last minute and a half – they never got a chance to pull the goalie.]
[A good showing by the JV with Taylor Coker (30) in goal.]
[Lauren begins warm-ups for the varsity.]
[More good news! Little Rev received medical clearance to play. But although she participated in warm-ups, she was held out again. A good idea. At this stage of the season, I think our seed is already established, so no need to push her.]
[But I’m sure she’s chomping at the bit to get back out there. And she may have been able to make a difference in the games she missed.]
[The other defense pair of Karine and Nicole warmed-up to their right.]
[Nicole likely will move back to forward when Little Rev plays again.]
[Carly and Micaela may be seasoned juniors but they still gotta pick up the pucks.]
[Mari did a terrific job on the Anthem again.]
[The first Card assault and Mel is right there.]
[Micaela splits the Spuds.]
[Rachel has a breakaway!]
[A Spud tries to catch her.]
[A backhander . . .]
[Hanah’s on the doorstep!]
[You’re getting the idea – we said “Ooooohhhhh!” a lot! 😉 ]
[And the puck again dribbles away to the left.]
[Finally, we score. It was Mel, shortly after the Spuds scored first. The Cards seemed to be the better team through this point, so we weren’t overly concerned when they scored first.]
You’ll note from the direction we’re going, this is in the 2nd period. Late in the 1st period, we noticed Rachel was rubbing her face under her mask – she obviously had been hit and was unhappy that no penalty was called. We didn’t see anything happen, but she must have retaliated and got a 5-minute major penalty. The Cards produced a great penalty kill – the Spuds only got one shot on goal in those five minutes.
We pause here to recognize a couple of noted quotes that have pertinence here. John Stewart recently interviewed Malala, the Afghan girl who survived being shot for defending women’s rights to be educated. She was so impressive, Stewart told her that he knew her parents were backstage but would they mind if he adopted her? Second, when Lou Grant first interviewed Mary Tyler Moore for a job at the TV station (on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” of course), he told her she had spunk. Mary beamed. Lou grumbled, “I hate spunk!” But she was hired! Somehow that applies here. I recently commented on basketball coach Wendy Kohler’s FB page that I hope Karly Betterman’s parents wouldn’t mind, but I wanted to adopt her. And from the hockey team, that similarly would be Rachel. She stuck around until her senior year to get regular shifts and does some exciting things.
[Back to the game, we all know the drill that when Mel scores . . . she always scores again!]
[So, she did – not long after her first goal! 🙂 ]
[The supervisor’s hand signals GOOOOOAAAAAALLLLLL!]
[The calmness of a scorer?]
When pause again for . . .
A SCORER: Hockey, like all team sports, requires a team effort to be successful. But teams are made up of individuals, and the team has to rely on certain individuals to do certain individual things. A hockey team needs scorers. I knew going into the season Melissa would be our leading scorer. I knew this merely by going to the 10 home games or so that the Super Fans attend. There’s nothing in particular that jumps out about her. She has good speed. But when you watch the team in warm-ups, there’s . . . in the now 11 years we’ve been following the sport, the skill level has improved exponentially. The state championship team of merely 6 years ago had only one player with a slapshot – now assistant coach Ashley Holmes. On this year’s team, everybody can blister the puck – and “spunky” Rachel has a backswing on her slapshot that rivals Phil Mickelson’s. And as the team goes through drills, they can all hit the corners, high and low, with both slapshots and wristshots. Mel would not be distinguishable from anybody else during these drills. But somehow, in the course of game action, it all must “slow down” for her. I wonder if she (or other scorers) can explain it? You see it in all games, players from both sides, when there’s an open net and in the rush (and nervousness) to get a goal, the shot is fanned, mishit, or shot wide. That’s why it has to be a gift. Scorers do not miss that opportunity. You can teach players how and where to shoot the puck, but in game action, it must be instinctive? When Mel goes in alone on goal, you expect a goal. It’s not a given for most players – the goalie is there to stop you.
[After two periods, we have a lead and the Super Fans were feeling comfortable.]
[Early in the 3rd we got a penalty. We thought it was ticky-tacky, and I think generally we’ll acknowledge when we deserve a penalty. The supervisor thought it changed the whole flow of the game. The Spuds scored on a power play, and we never seemed to get our mojo back. That’s Rachel above – but this wasn’t the penalty.]
[We’re sprinting back on defense. Happened too much in the final period.]
[Hanah tries to get us the lead, despite being in a head lock!]
[Now she’s in a half-nelson!]
[It was a good game, Mel got 2 goals, but with 5 – FIVE – seconds left, Moorhead shot from the point – a shot that was way off line – but a Spud close to the goal get a stick on the puck in mid-flight and deflected it past Amy and into the goal. Had to be totally accidental. Oy! What a way to lose!]
To the Cards credit, they went up to Fargo South the next night and came away with a 6 – 0 victory (Bailey in goal). I think they said we had three short-handed goals, two by Melissa.