Today, during 110 game day, Team Picasso went out to an early lead. While their celebration of good point-earnings remained throughout the game, their hand-raising and answering of questions got less sharp as time went on, and as Team B took over the scoring and eventually ended with an insurmountable lead.
In response to this movement, I felt moved to quip, "You're having the same problem the hockey team had last night."
Like Team Picasso, the Falcons came out strong last night; they looked slightly overmatched, but willing to grit their teeth and fight for a win with confidence. The team looked a little more physical than it should, which led to a lot of penalties again, but other teams have used physical strategies before. As long as you have the pass efficiency to back it up, no biggie. And for a while, they did. Plays were being made, and cleverness came into play when plays went sour or when loose pucks needed to be collected. I love looking at the team make something out of accidents, or have the presence of mind to capitalize on another team's lapse in concentration. It's beautiful, like poetry. I love it!
That energy and display of smarts deteriorated after Notre Dame scored their second goal. The play became scrappy. A few good plays were still made, but on the whole it looked like the Falcons were scrambling, as though they weren't thinking anymore, couldn't see what to do with quirky puck movement. Exhaustion plays a role, especially with recent games and with so much PK time (PK still succeeding pretty well, by the way--hooray for the slide block, used to great success by MSU back in the day). But concentrating through the exhaustion...I'm not seeing it. And, once tipped off their early momentum, they were never able to recover the same strength and coordination as a team with which they began.
The team this year has great potential to succeed in games. They can win, and I think they know it. I think they're smart, and are capable of showing that throughout a game. But I saw ghosts of last season lurking in that arena, especially in the third period, and it had nothing to do with Halloween.
Win or lose, I love my team, and I'm generally pretty proud of them when they're working hard and playing like they mean it. I understand better than most the sheer exhaustion of being under the lights for long stretches of time and straining your body past its limits. But my training from day one was in performance--not letting on that you're tired or discouraged until you are out of those lights, and practicing that vitality even in rehearsals, when you're the only one to motivate yourself to care. So, it hurts when I can tell the boys are discouraged. I saw some good things last night, and even some great things. But I want to see them in the third period just as much as the first. I'm greedy, I admit it. But I want to think my men are just as greedy.
Which sounds a little naughty. We'll just go with it.
I heart you, BG hockey!