As I stood gazing down at the melee on the ice, I could barely comprehend what Ryan Irvine had just told me, “There’s an article for ya eh man!” he said.
The fog was still thick and as he made his way to the arctic air, I made my way back into consciousness. Along with about 4500 other hockey souls, we had witnessed one of the most thrilling endings to a hockey game in recent memory.
Hounds 4 Storm 3.
It was far from a pretty game for most of the night, but the undercurrent and lessons and adversity made this the absolute Game of the Year! So far.
The game featured errors and miscues, but it also featured the superhuman efforts of extremely exhausted and depleted teenagers who had just been through hell and back physically.
Rasmus Sandin flew in from the other side of the planet, others arrived in the Soo from Christmas holidays late Wednesday night only to be met with “How was your Christmas? and btw get some sleep we have a practice in the morning”
After the morning practice, the kids then boarded a bus for five more hours of travel before lacing up and playing a rested Saginaw Spirit squad.
After the game it was back on the bus for some overnight travel-rinse and repeat the previous scenario. It was the hungry and rested Flint Firebirds who were waiting at the face off dot Friday night. For good measure, why don’t we tack on another “repeat”, at this point, we have Guelph waiting to put a wrench into our 22 game win streak Saturday night.
That is three grueling hockey games in three nights including one on the road. These kids need to be commended for playing as hard as they did under those circumstances. Night after night they came out and gave it their all and as fans, we appreciate it.
This shorthanded team (Boris/Conor) utilized every resource available from rolling four lines to motivating & pushing each other on the ice and in the dressing room. The kids, I am sure would have rather slept off the tryptophan from Christmas, but they took care of business they did it in a dynamic fashion.
Mind over matter is what took place at it’s best.
These bodies were depleted to the max and yet they won….and won…and won again.
This last win against the Storm was not just a game on the ice, it was a test of mental and physical strength for everyone involved, players, coaches, and of course Greyhound fans.
This game see-sawed back and forth a few times and when the Hounds were down 3-2 at the end of the second period, I was trying to convince myself that if we lost, it was OK.
Streaks were meant to come to an end and if it did, I would be ok.
Welllll- I was lying to myself. I would have been one unhappy camper until the next game.
You see, these losses stay with me, they fester 😜
For the next 25 minutes including three on three in overtime, we saw a very tired, but nonetheless non-quitting team battle, a shark that smelled blood. Time after time after time, when the puck was in deep, or out of view near the net, I thought it was over.
Our goalie…I forget his name 😝 -stood tall and kept us in the game and gave us a chance to win.
He no doubt, is responsible for many Storm players seeking the services of the local psychiatric registry in the Guelph region this week. Matt is also responsible for the long wait to be seen at EMERG post game as people filled hallways on gurneys waiting to have their hearts monitored and/or shocked back into life.
And if you think I am joking…well I am.😜 -but you know what I am saying.
I have a to admit I, on some twisted level enjoy the nail biting, heart fluttering, and palm sweating experience of the shootout.
The entire streak all boiled down to which player hit the net and which goalie had the most composure.
The Storm goalie played a great game and really had nothing to lose; his team played the best in the country and at that point secured a point on the road. I don’t think his stress level was as high as #31’s at the other end of the rink.
Matty, on another level really, had nothing to lose. My logic was that he is one of the main reasons we are streaking like this. He need not hold his head in shame if we lost in the shootout. BUT, Matty did have enormous pressure on his hands. He put it on himself, he knew that the air would be let out of the SSM balloon very quickly if he didn’t attend to business and stop these three breakaways.
Well, he did.
One after another one after another one. They skated in unabated from center ice and were denied by MV (Most Valuable).
The striking thing about young Matty is that he is so relaxed and composed between the pipes. I have not seen a goalie play like this at this age…..in my life. He is truly a star in the making.
His style also impressed me during the shootout. It’s like poetry. As the skater starts his ascent Matt pushes off about 3 feet from his crease and slowly blends back into the net. It’s like a kind of camouflage. It’s almost like a trick of light. By doing this he is deceiving the shooters angle and giving fewer options.
When he made that final save- the crowd erupted! People passed out, women and children removed their hands from their collective eyes and we realized that we will live to fight another day for the streak record! That day will be Thursday in Mississauga.
*Ryan Irvine who I had mentioned earlier was kind enough to send me a pic of his Hounds tattoo. I believe that perhaps the Hounds marketing department should look into some sort partnership with a local tattoo shop for a Hound tattoo special. A set size tattoo of the Greyhounds could get you $2.00 off your ticket when shown….or $50 off of your season ticket renewal!? Just a thought.
**The controversy and fact that Matt Villalta didn’t get a star after playing a great game and stoning the three shooters in the shootout Saturday can be explaine. Spanky Robinson said during the post-game show that the stars are submitted with about 5 minutes left in regulation time. I think this definitely needs to change. Everything is lightening speed with social media etc. There is no reason why they can’t wait until the end of the game to send that text. No reason at all.
Imagine if it’s a 1-0 game for Team A and Team A’s goalie is playing a pretty good game and then he lets in 4 soft goals in the last 5 minutes and they lose 4-1. How stupid would that goalie feel to skate out to a chorus of boos if he was already chosen as the star ?? It makes no sense. I feel this practice needs to change.
So, for the record, the stars were 1) Matt Villalta 2) Anthony Popovich 3) Noah Carroll
Go Hounds Go!
24, 25, and 26, and Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhh