The tale of Kyle’s wild Arizona State (the Grand Canyon State Games) / Sonoran Youth Hockey League Championships.
First the background. We ended up 18-0 in league play for the season. Undefeated. It wasn't easy and it wasn't pretty sometimes, but we did it. (we won lots of other games in tourneys & stuff, but all that counted going into this weekend was our league play record.)
The first portion of the tourney, “the playdowns”, were held in Tucson. (every division played at a different rink in the state.)
Went into the league playoffs in 1st - the setup for the playdowns was ridiculous. We had to play the 2nd, 4th & 6th place teams in round robin. We truly expected to meet the 2nd place team in the finals, as they were, by far the best team all year. (there was actually 7th team in our division - but being a girls team, they couldn't compete for the championship as they don't check.)
Went out game 1 and played #2. Won, soundly 4-1. Not our best effort, but it worked, and that was a pretty decent score.
Game 2 vs #4. Okay, background on this team. Jocelyn Lemieux (yes the former NHL goon, for those of you that follow hockey) is the coach. He's been an ass all year. Knows they can't beat us, so they just try to physically take us out of our game. They have lots of goons on the team and Jocelyn spends his time on the bench yelling at OUR kids. Trying to get into their heads. Well it worked. We have consistently beat this team all season. Usually resoundingly. They tied us 0-0. Oh yeah, Sean Burke's (the NHL goalie – used to be a Coyote, now he plays for the LA Kings) son is their goalie. Let me tell you, the genetics thing is good. The kid stood on his head. In the last 3 minutes alone we had at least 20 shots.
Game 3 vs #6. Should be an easy game as this team is only 3-14-1 for the season. Right? Not so easy. won, but only 3-1. Where are these goalies coming from? We outshot them 5-1 (I think it was like 40 shots to their 8.) And, their goalie had never played an ice hockey game before. He's an inline (roller hockey) goalie. (this team we played is a dual team – most of the kids play on both the ice & inline hockey teams.)
So, now we're the #2 seed going into the semis, as another team went 3-0. We have to play Lemieux's team again. Ugh. Kids came out on fire. Game got rather ugly. Mr. Lemieux got himself thrown out of the game - AND MOONED THE REFS (or it might have been the parents who were applauding his departure) on his way off the bench. Lovely. We won 4-0. Which put us in the finals.
Most amazing thing? That little team we beat in game 3? Went through a shootout to win their semi and were going to meet us in the finals.
So we come to today. Championship game. At our home rink in Chandler (all the championships were played at this rink.) Should have been a gimme.
Unbelievable game. We get one goal right off the bat in the first. Second period - no goals. Third perios - we're up 1-0 in the 3rd (yes, that inline goalie stood on his head. Can't believe the saves he made.) A tiny little girl defensemen on their team takes a shot. Our goalie never sees it. It sort of lobs over his shoulder and drops. Right over the line. Tie 1-1. Now we're going to OT.
5 minute OT. No goals. Ugh. Now we're going to a shootout. Their goalie just went through a shootout yesterday to be here today. Our goalie hadn't seen a shootout since April of last year. But thankfully, he was the goalie, as our other goalie has NEVER seen a shootout.
Five man shootout. (for those of you who don’t know hockey, a shootout pits one skater against the goalie. You get one shot to get the puck in the goal. Just one chance.)
Shooter #1 for them. Stuffed by our goalie.
Shooter #1 for us – Kyle. My son shoots first. Can I tell you I was between crying and throwing up??? Goes for the shot - tries to deke him on the blocker side, and gets stuffed. He just monkeyed around too long with the puck and didn't have any room left.
Shooter #2 for them. Scores. Shooter #2 for us. Misses.
Shooter#3 for them - misses. Shooter #3 for us - perfect lift goal. 1-1.
Shooter #4 for them, misses. Shooter #4 for us - our #1 scorer - awesome, perfect in. 2-1
Shooter #5 for them - scores. Shooter #5 for us - our most creative goal scorer, misses.
Tied 2-2. Now it's sudden death shootout. One shooter each until someone wins.
Now I'm really ready to throw up, cry or faint. I'm too numb to tell which. Oh by the way, I'm sitting with our goalie's mom, who I'm amazed is still standing.
Our first shooter out misses. Theirs misses too.
Second misses. Theirs too.
Our third shooter makes the most amazing goal. We win. Hallelujah, praise God. It's finally over.
That wasn't the way it was supposed to go!!!!
But we won. It was wonderful. the kids so deserved it after the season they had. And the 2nd place team for the season - knocked out and played for 5th. How sad.
Check out the league website for the championship photo. It runs as a slideshow - you'll have to wait to see the PeeWee B picture.
Next weekend – Provo, Utah.