Thursday, 12 March 2009

Season 2 in France done!

Well I have taken some days to reflect since our elimination last Friday, and I have to say that despite losing three straight games to Rouen in the 2nd round of playoffs, we are all happy with our season. As a team we finished 6th out of 14 teams, our best finish in team history, and we also won a playoff series against Chamonix. Nobody expected us to beat a big club like Rouen in the playoffs, but it would have been nice to have stolen a game from them. Maybe if I had not hit the post late in the 2nd period of game 3 as we were trailing 1-0, things would have been different???

Not only were we happy with our season as a team, a few players stood out this year with outstanding individual seasons. My close friend and former roommate here in Epinal, the Finnish Sniper, Ilpo Salmivirta had a very dominate year burring 18 goals in 18 games. Our captain Jan Plch had a career high 52 points and Jan Simko found his form and with his lightning speed was able to record 836 breakaways this season, hahaha ok not really a stat and slightly exaggerated, but he did manage 13 goals and provide with exciting end to end rushes every game.

For me I am happy with my season, most of my individual goals were achieved, as I led all defensemen in points and goals and was named first team all star. Now it is contract time though. I have a meeting with our president this weekend in which we will open up negotiations and contract talks for next season.

Well, not much news here, the season is over, we have been saying our goodbyes this past week and everyone is interested to see what will happen with our team, who will come back, who will coach, and who will find some big contracts elsewhere???

Monday, 2 March 2009

2nd Round vs Rouen

We did it! We eliminated Chamonix to take the best of 3 first round series 2 games to 1. Now a date with Rouen awaits us as we travel there tomorrow morning for games Tuesday and Wednesday night. I thought I had seen it all here in France until after the victory against Chamonix, when Guillaume Chassard informed our players that we were going to honour Chamonix as they skated off the ice by forming 2 parallel lines facing each other and have the Chamonix players skate through us as they exited the ice. Kind of weird but we went with it, and the opposing to was shown respect from our fans as well with loud cheers as they left the ice for the last time this season.

Now our focus is on one of the most offensive powered teams in the league, Rouen. Driven by a mostly Canadian offensive and complemented equally with their Finnish contingent on defense, this Rouen team are the reigning playoffs champions from only 1 year ago. Having beaten them twice this season, once in Rouen in league play, and once at home in a Coupe de la Ligue match up, we know the task is not impossible.

Our keys will have to start with staying out of the penalty box and playing as much 5 on 5 hockey as possible. Also, we do not want to trade scoring chances with them as they seem to capitalize on any errors a team will make, resulting more often than not with a puck in the back of the net.

With 2 wins in a row and our offense rolling smoothly, if we can continue improving our play on defense, we will be looking for nothing less than a split in the series as we come home to play on Friday and Saturday night. In the playoffs momentum can be a very dangerous factor and since Rouen has not played a game in over a week, we will try to get a good start against them and try to keep the momentum going throughout the series.