Hockey can be broken down into many components. Some believe it is a game based on strategy and the “x’s and o’s”, while others are convinced that hard work alone can win you hockey games. In my opinion you cannot execute one of these without the other. To master new systems it does not come easily. It can be a very frustrating process…especially if effort is not being put in. You must have the drive to learn and overcome old habits in order to gain knowledge of different styles of play. Furthermore, hard work also has to be smart work. There is no point putting in maximal effort to make the same mistake numerous times. Part of working hard means recognizing fault and making the correct adjustments to assure that mistake doesn’t happen more than once.
A major component in the Gryphon philosophy this year is DETAIL. We have become a team that focuses heavily on specifics rather than merely grasping a very general concept. Of course, this did not happen after just one week of practice and it took some bumps in the road to realize the importance of detail in our systems. The most recent piece of adversity our team has had to overcome was a terrible loss to York a few weekends ago. After the game, a sense of defeat and failure was evident in the dressing room. Team play was very average and in this league being mediocre will not win you a hockey game. Forechecking routes were not executed properly, backchecking was not done with a purpose and passes were not connected on the tape. All these mistakes boil down to focus and detail.
The following week of practice was critical. We had two big games against Queens and UOIT coming up that weekend so we could not afford to take any days off. We went back to the drawing board and reviewed all three zones of the ice. It was slowly becoming more apparent that commitment and determination to learn systems was being seen in each player.
Walking into the rink Saturday, you could feel the fire that had sparked back into our team and we were ready to rebound from our mistakes. The game against Queens was a great team win where we played a full, hard 60 minutes! Our forecheck smothered the Gaels, we were communicating on the backcheck and passes were crisp. We not only understood the game plan but we BELIEVED in it and that alone created momentum going into the next game against UOIT where we recorded another win.
The next true test for the Gryphons will be having the discipline to continue their work ethic and remain composed when they are seen as the team to beat.
Next up, Guelph takes on Waterloo Warriors Thursday night and Laurier Golden Hawks Saturday night at the Gryphon Center.
Bye for now,