As the season winds down, a team needs to be peaking. The power play should be about 20% effective. Team statisticians should be recording 100% efficiency on the penalty kill. Workouts should be easy- not because they’ve gotten lighter, but because the team is in great shape. Team practices should be effortless. The first line should be producing, the second line should be holding down opposing offensive threats, and the third line should be the best forechecking unit on the ice. And games should result in wins.
Last weekend, we were five regular season games out of our playoffs tournament. The Huskies were facing off against the top two teams in our conference, St. Francis Xavier and Universitè de Moncton. St.FX is sitting on an undefeated season. We’ve only managed to beat UdeM once before in this season. While both of these teams had esteemed records and seasons behind them, my girls were really anticipating the opportunity to test our skills and systems against the best in the AUS. In the buildup to the weekend, our practices were sharp and intense. The overall team atmosphere was buzzing with excitement and determination.
The Huskies faced off against St.FX on Friday. For the first time in our season, the Husky penalty kill was painfully exposed. Prior to the weekend, we had the number one penalty kill in the conference. St.FX scored five of their six goals while on the powerplay by repetitively exposing the same area of our kill-formation. My role in special teams is predominately PK, and this break-down aggravated me immensely. The Huskies managed to score two goals, but it wasn’t enough to counter St.FX’s offensive attack. We went down 6-2.
To compound our frustration, the Husky performance against Moncton wasn’t much better. Again, our PK was exposed mercilessly. To be fair, we had an equal number of opportunities on the powerplay; we just couldn’t put the puck in the net. Our luck was awful- it was the kind of game where pucks were guaranteed Husky goals, but one of our own teammates’ skates would knock its trajectory away from the open net. We lost 5-2.
It was not the weekend we had hoped for. Instead of reinforcing our confidence in team systems and line effectiveness, our weaknesses were exposed and exploited. Our team bonding plans on Saturday night shifted from celebratory to depressive innature. It was a sad weekend in Halifax…
But we rallied on Monday. We paced hard through off-ice training and finished the session laughing and sweating hard. All the single ladies (about 85% of the team) laughed at the corporate coercion that is Valentine’s Day, and we shared supper and a show (J. Biebs is surprisingly inspiring). During the week’s practice, we returned to the fundamentals, sharpening our basic skills while tightening up the areas of our game that obviously needed correction. With three games left in the regular season, I feel like our unit grew stronger, closer and better. Maybe two tough losses were the catalyst we needed to push us to that next level of performance. Hopefully our harsh learning curve will bolster us above the rest and secure our success at AUS Championships in March!
Sey was recently involved in the University’s competition for naming the 2011 Graduating Class’s Valedictorian. She had to write a speech/essay that captured her valedicotrian thoughts. It was good enough for a second place finish. Read it here!