Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Of Ice and Tails

Hello again.

What a weekend we had last weekend.
Not entirely a great weekend but a pretty good ending for the most part.

It started out with a lot of promise and we were all pretty stoked up about it.
The boys had a regular league hockey game in Fredericton on Friday night.
Then the next day we were heading out for the weekend to stay in Saint John and play in a tournament in Hampton, New Bruswick.

We had been looking forward to going back there since last year. Last year the boys' team missed the gold and won silver but this year it looked good for us to bring it home.
B mentioned to me one day last week how good he felt about their chances.

As luck would have it, especially with our Scammells, something happened to screw things up.
At the very beginning of Friday night's game B slipped and landed on the ice directly onto his tailbone.

I didn't see exactly what happened but I knew that he was hurting when he didn't get up right away.
He was able to get up and skate off of the ice. He even tried to go out for another shift but there was no way that was going to happen.
So he left the game to get showered and changed while the game continued.

It would have been almost acceptable if he was in pain that night and woke up the next day feeling somewhat better. At least enough to play in the tournament.
That was not to be.

We applied ice to his tailbone area and gave him ibruprofen to help ease the pain but the poor guy has pretty well been in agony ever since it happened.

For the first few days at home he was up with me to do his paper route but I was the one taking the papers to the door.
He tried like heck to tough it out a bit and do a paper or two but it was easier that he just handed them to me and I dropped them off.
It was better for the last few days and he delivered the papers but it's clear that the pain is still pretty bad.

Cheryl took him to the doctor to get a proper examination.
The doctor doesn't think that anything is broken but a big nasty bruising is almost as bad.
I'm afraid that ice and ibruprofen is all we can do to help him.

One thing that ticks me off about this is that the boys have a practice for the NB Junior Selects baseball team on Saturday and I'm not sure if B will be up for it.

I won't go into it all in this post but we decided that the boys would try out for the provincial team this year. The practices have gone through the winter and the team selection takes place in the spring.

The way I see it, even if they don't make the team they are keeping their baseball skills sharper than most players by continuing through the winter.
In addition, the coaches there teach the guys some great stuff and awesome drills.

We'll see how it goes. At least T will be able to participate and B can watch if he can't participate.

Anyway, back to last weekend.
The first tournament game on Saturday was against Sussex.
It went well and they won that game. It was a dirtier game than we're used to but nobody was injured.

The second game wasn't so great. They weren't able to pull it off.
Coincidentally, remember my last post
Remember the kid who swatted B with the stick and cross checked him from behind? Guess what team game 2 was against? Yep, they were the home team too.
I told people to watch number 3 to observe his antics.
He didn't disappoint. He was worse than the last time we played them.
Fortunately the officiating was very good and penalties were given where they were needed.

I'm afraid that Game 2 didn't go so well though and our guys lost.
That's okay though. Our guys played a clean game and gave it their best.

We had several hours before Game 3 which gave us time to go back to the hotel to pack up and check out. Most of us did check out but a few decided to stay an extra night since the kids are on March break anyway.
At this point it seemed unlikely to me that our lads would be playing in the finals on Monday. I had to return home to work anyway and would not be able to stay.

Again, B had to sit Game 3 out. His pain wasn't really improving and I didn't want him out there like that. We all agreed that his health was more important.

Game 3 was a bust. They just couldn't seem to catch a break out there. This team was another home team but the opposite of their sister team.
These guys played a clean game of skill which was nice to see.
Their goalie was a wall. The one goal we did get seemed to be a fluke.

Nice try though on our part.
The team had fun and was able to get away and hang around together but it was time to go home.
One victory and two losses wouldn't cut it to make the semi-finals.

In one of those weird twists of tournament fate and points, it worked out that our lads were heading into the semi-finals on Monday while the team that just pounded them was out! That seems weird to me but we weren't going to fight the system.

I wish I could have stayed but it wasn't possible.
Cheryl and the lads booked a room for another night and I headed home.

Now, the team that they had to play in the semi-final was another team from our league in Fredericton. We have beaten them and they had beaten us through the season.
They had won all 3 of their games to get to the semi-finals.
We had only won 1 and lost 2.

Add the fact that B was sitting the game out and wouldn't be scoring against them as he often does.
Another of our top scorers had to leave the tournament Sunday and couldn't be there at all on Monday.

I'd say the odds were stacked against our lads.

But, the hockey logic fairy wasn't around for the semi-final game and whackiness ensued.
Our guys beat the other team handily and was going to the final game later that afternoon.

Another bizarre thing was that the final game was against that Sussex team that we beat in the first game. They had also managed to make it to the finals with a less than stellar tournament record.

B was determined that he was going to play in the final game. I was dreading the thought of someone smacking into him or him losing his balance and falling making his pain worse than ever.

He took it easy though and played defense. He was suffering after the game but at least he was able to go and be part of the team for the big game.

Our guys gave it a good shot but couldn't quite pull it off.
They lost the game 3-2 and took the silver medal.

Pretty darn good considering the day before we were convinced that the tournament was over for us.

I don't have to say how proud I am of them.

Another interesting thing to point out is that for every game Cheryl was behind the bench coaching the team.
She is the team manager and has taken the courses required to be a coach but she had never coached the boys' hockey before.

The team has 3 coaches. Two of them are university age guys. At first I thought that they had taken the coaching positions as part of a school course requirement but I was told that one mentioned that they wanted the experience for their resumes.

If that is the case I think the FYHA should have suggested that they start out with a team of younger players and work up to coaching our boys' level.
At this point in our boys' hockey they should have coaches that are fairly experienced and know a bit more about what they are doing.

In previous years our coaching staff decided that the Captain and Assistant Captain positions would rotate among all of the team members throughout the season. I liked this system a lot, especially since this is Recreational level play.
Every kid on the team had a chance to feel important and be a leader for at least a short period.
It didn't matter if they were the top scorer or fastest skater.

These coaches took their favourite kids and gave them the C and A's and that's it for the season.

It doesn't matter that B has scored a ton of goals and assisted almost everyone else in scoring or that T has showed repeatedly that he is arguably the best defenseman in the league.

In one of my videos from a game, B makes an amazing drop pass faking out the defenseman and giving the puck to a teammate to score a snap goal.
Following the goal, B skates over as the goal scorer is going by to give him a congratulatory fist bump. The other kid skates right past B, the guy who made his goal possible, and heads for the rest of the team.
I'm thinking that the other guy probably didn't see B and missed his fist bump.
It's still an upsetting video to watch though and I feel so sad for B.

I had learned many years when I played hockey that an unwritten rule is that if you score an assisted goal the FIRST member of your team that you seek out to celebrate with is the player who assisted you.
I have stressed that to my guys and they live by it without exception.

I sent a note to one of the young coaches suggesting that he may want to have a little chat with the team and mention this as a suggestion to them.
He blew me off and said that it wasn't necessary.
Fair enough. It's his team to coach as he wants.

One of the young coaches was away for the weekend. The other decided on the day of the tournament that he couldn't afford the cost of the hotel and was not going to attend. I can understand that.

It would have been nice though if he had told us sooner rather than as we were on the highway to the tournament.
No matter. Cheryl stepped up. Her and Coach Raymond took care of business and got the job done.
Nice ending for her first coaching outing wasn't it?

If I sound a tad harsh about the other coaches I apologize but will explain.

The team has a Facebook team page with those two coaches and practically the whole team as members. I had asked to be part of it and was accepted.
It worked out very well. Cheryl constantly sends out emails to the parents about upcoming games and practices and general league goings-on.
Most of the kids on the team never see those emails but are always on Facebook.

When Cheryl sent her emails I was a recipient so I would copy the message and paste it onto the Team group wall.
Numerous times one of the kids would post a question or concern, I would get a copy by email, and get an answer for them.

On the night before the game I was feeling rather sad that I was going to miss the game so I posted this message on the team wall in the hopes that they would see it before their games the next day.

"Good luck in the semi final tomorrow boys. I wish I could be there with you. I'm really proud of you all no matter what happens.
Special congrats to Cheryl who stepped up and went behind the bench to coach like a champ. We know that her and Raymond won't let you down.
Go get em guys. :)"

That seems like a very nice message doesn't it? I wished them luck and toasted Cheryl and Raymond for their great work.

Withing ten minutes or so of posting B had seen it and had "liked" my post.

The young coach who was away for the weekend and was the Facebook page moderator also added a note to my post wishing the boys luck.

Then a few minutes later I recieved an email that the moderator had changed the group from "public" to "private".
I was curious as to what that was about and went onto Facebook to have a look at the group and see what was going on.

It turns out that the "private" thing means that I'm not part of it anymore.
The boys are still in the group and I found out that my inspirational post was removed.
I sent a couple of messages to the coach/moderator to find out what is going on but have not yet had the courtesy of a reply.

Several times I reread what I had posted to make sure that it was worded properly in case something in it was misinterpreted. It looks fine to me.

Truth be told, I really don't care.
On the day it happened I was bewildered and wanted to sort it out.
Now that I've thought about it I don't care. I haven't seen him yet since then but even when I do I won't bother saying anything.

It's a shame that the players who took advantage of my informational postings won't be able to anymore. They'll have to rely on the email messages and their teammates now.
I was doing it as a courtesy and didn't mind at all.

The season is less than a month away from being over and petty things like a Facebook group aren't worth caring about.

I will say that if next year the boys are picked to play on a team with coaches like this season I will politely ask that they be switched to another team.
Even if they end up winning the final gold medal as they did last season I don't think my guys have enjoyed this year as much as before.

We still have a great time watching and the boys totally love playing but the team doesn't seem to have bonded together too much.

As manager, Cheryl has done her best to plan team activities such as the bottle drive and the parent/player game.

She spent hours planning for the tournament this past weekend. She arranged for the team to stay in the same hotel at a discount. Cheryl worked with the East Side Marios restaurant near the hotel and planned an excellent team meal at a great price.

The rest should be covered by coaching staff.
A good coach should talk to the players about unwritten rules, manners and matters of etiquette.
An exceptional coach will leave a positive lasting impression on a player that stays with a kid for their whole life.

Not to worry. Hockey season will be coming to a close soon.

There's still a ton on snow on the ground but we're already preparing for baseball season.

Stay well,


No comments: