February 9, 2017

All By Myself

I just marked my fifth year playing net after coming back to hockey after 25 years away but this isn't a retrospective entry. It's a reminder that no goalie stands alone on the ice.

Regular readers here know that my Puck Hawgs team ran through the Lower 'B' division like shit through a goose last season and won the championship. This season we haven't missed a beat since moving to Upper 'B'. Last week I had the nerve to remind the team before the game that we had a 17 game winning streak going.

What was I thinking?

We were down 4-0 by the beginning of the second period. I had "that" game. The kind of game that nearly every goalie has had- usually more than one. I couldn't track the puck. I was out of position and off-angle. The goals poured into my net. Every time my team managed to get something going, I let another one in and we sunk back into a hole. I was not only losing the game for us but I was ending the kind of winning streak rarely seen in beer league hockey.

Then this happened.

I was done. I resigned myself to a loss and worse, letting my guys down. But I guess they didn't believe it. I watched as the twelve other guys on the Puck Hawgs worked harder and dug deeper for the next five minutes of that game than maybe any other time in any game or season before. We tied the game with two minutes left and the game-winning goal was scored with under a minute remaining.

I was numb skating through the handshake line and I grinned and again shook the hand of every Puck Hawg in the locker room. I couldn't believe what they'd done.

I've had a week to think about that game. I don't want to break sticks and act the idiot and I don't think I inspired anyone with my antics. What I have been reminded of is that, win or lose, it doesn't happen by myself. I've long known that at this level, I'm not winning any games single-handedly and I guess my team is trying to make sure I can't lose a game all by myself either.

18 in a row baby. I don't think I'll mention that before tonight's game.