After a year of separation, my son and his best hockey buds are reunited on the same team again. This year, as the Squirt AA Montgomery Blue Devils. Some may remember the heartbreak of defeat this same team suffered in Detroit two years ago (as Mites) when they lost with 3 seconds left to play in the International SilverStick finals.
Despite demonstrating great promise, tournament success has eluded them. In fact, only a few weeks ago, our boys suffered a colossal loss in the quarter finals against the Lambton Sting in the Detroit Warrior Tournament. But, as it’s said, that which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
Having a pretty good feeling going into the Nike Bauer Tournament last weekend in Chicago, The Maven asked her husband to park in short term parking at BWI….if you know The Maven’s penurious nature -and the price of the hourly lot – the strength of that feeling would be obvious. (The Mave was banking on a late return on Sunday)
To qualify for the finals these 9 and 10 year old boys must play and win 4 games in two days. They then face possible elimination in the quarters and semi’s…so flexible plane tickets are critical. (Thank you Southwest!!)
Our toughest qualifying match was against the Soo Greyhounds. This team proved to be formidable both on ice and in the bleachers. Their fan-base was expansive and to be honest, intimidating, replete with cowbells, jingle bells, face paintings, signage and a frickin MASCOT. Spotting the talisman in the parking lot prior to game time, Miller mom –-texted The Maven asking if our opponent might be the “Wolves?” So, yeah, the mascot wasn’t the perfect rendition of a Greyhound…but to our little rag-tag team from Maryland, that level of organization is enough to cause a little disquietude among the parents. Thankfully, our boys sent the hounds back to the kennel club and advanced to the finals.
So, we found ourselves playing in the championship game in Chicago on Sunday at 3 o’clock against the white hot LA Jr. Kings. (eliminating several Canadian teams along the way…just sayin’…)
From the stands it was an often exhilarating and at other times oxygen depleting game which, of course, went into sudden death overtime. Whereas in regulation - 5 a side - the play was fairly even between the teams, overtime was played 4 a side and our boys clearly dominated. They kept the Jr. Kings pinned in their end and in a magical moment with textbook passing, our guys got the final goal and won the tournament. We were thunderstruck and thrilled all at once.
The team, parents and coaches have all been riding the most epic wave since the tournament ended. However, trying to convey the significance of winning this tournament to those who haven’t drunk the travel-hockey-Kool-aide remains a challenge. News of the win typically elicits the quotidian responses…namely, with few variants of: “Oh, that’s nice.”
Really? That’s all you’ve got? “Nice??”
So, for the uninitiated, those non-drinkers of the travel-hockey-Kool-aide, here’s a quick primer for you:
Things considered “Nice”:
A nice hot bath
A nice cup of tea
A nice walk in the park
A nice chat
A nice place to visit
Things considered “WHOA! Holy SMOKES, are you FREAKING KIDDING ME? AMAZING!!”:
Winning the Lottery
Winning the Bauer Invitational Hockey Tournament.