Saturday, 19 September 2009

Happy Birthday André

I must start off with a Happy Birthday to my big brother André, who turns 35 today! He is the reason that I play hockey in the first place and was my role model growing up. Tonight we play our first regular season game so I will try to have a very solid game and a convincing victory for ya bro!

It is early here in Briancon, I set my alarm for 9am, as we have a morning skate at 10:45, before leaving for our game at 2pm. Considering it is the first regular season game though, I have been up since 7am. I watched a few NHL pre season highlights on TSN, ate my breakfast, and might make a protein shake before leaving for the rink. I figure the earlier I can wake up, the more fuel I can put in my body to give me energy for the practice this morning and the game tonight. If this works, I might wake up at 6am next Tuesday and start dominating some French Toast.

Tonight we will look to play a more complete game and get off to a strong start. Defense remains our priority but as the coach has been preaching: "the best defense is when we have the puck."

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Quick Fix

So some people have been giving me a hard time about not updating my blog (F.P.) as of late so this should serve as a quick fix to that problem. The main reason for not updating was mainly that I was not too motivated to write about our 1-0 loss to Grenoble in the Match des Champions. They scored on the power play in the first period and with strong goaltending, they cruised to the 1-0 victory.

On Tuesday we faced off against Gap in the first official game in Coupe de la Ligue action. Again, the team did not respond well in the first period and went into the dressing room after 20 minutes of play tied 0-0. With a power play of our own, I was able to get us on the board early with a nice pass from Damien Raux. We went up 2-0 with a great individual effort from "Speedy" Rohat, blowing past the Gap defense, toe dragging and ripping one top right corner or as the french say "lucarne" I wouldn't bother going on the translator on that one because the translation will come up "attic window."

Continuing on, Gap tied it 2-2 before our Captain Edo Terglav potted a rebound on a scramble in front of the net and then added an empty netter to secure the win for us.

We did not seem to have the legs or the jump that we wanted in these last 2 games so we took Wednesday off, making it an optional off ice workout "musculation." Though we have a pretty motivated group so we still had about 12 guys show up. 10 of the 12 did a solid workout, whereas the other 2 had more of what we call a "sauna focus." I think they did 3 sets of the sauna x 10 minutes, super setting that with a 15 second cold shower. Whatever works guys!!!

Hopefully the optional day will give us a bit more juice for our first league game on Saturday in St. Gervais against Mont Blanc.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Shootout Loss in Final

After a few days rest, we were back at work today as we hit the ice this morning and finished the day with a post practice workout. This was our first day back on the ice since returning home from our tournament in Slovenia. Reflecting on the weekend tournament, we were very pleased with the organization and especially the level of competition.

Our first game we faced off against the reigning champs from Klagenfurt of the Austrian Elite League. This team had the likes of former NHLers Jeff Shantz, Mike Craig and Sean Brown in their lineup and after getting over the fact I was battling in the corners with guys who have been at the top (NHL) our team settled in and played a solid game. Going down 1-0 early, we responded off a faceoff win and I was fortunate enough to one time a shot from just inside the blueline. It was very hot that day and the fog on the ice must have helped provide a screen, preventing their goalie from seeing the puck clearly.

After tying it 1-1, we did not trail for the rest of the game and were leading 4-3 late in the 3rd period when we started scrambling and allowing KAC to tie the game. With no Overtime in this tournament format, we went straight to a shootout. I could not really see how Joni Lindlof scored because the fog was so thick, but I think he went 5 hole, opening the door for Ramon Sopko to win the game for us with a save. He stopped the next shot and in fact made all 3 of the saves from KAC's shooters giving us the win.

I feel I am giving lots of detail here so I will try to sum it all up quickly so my readers don't lose interest. Our next game was against Langenthal from the Swiss B League. A very good skating team, very defensive minded. We played a solid game and was 4-2, improving our record to 2-0 sending us to the finals against Austria's Jesenice. Their fans were pretty crazy so it made for a good atmosphere in the championship game.

The final game was very defensive, we scored the first goal of the game on the PP in the second period but it was quickly equalized on a 5 on 3 PP. The game finished deadlocked at 1-1 and again, we headed for a shootout. This time, after 11 shooters, we came out on the losing end. But what a game and what a tournament.

We faced some really good teams and keep coming together as a group as well. One thing that has been implemented as well is that for team meals, we must sit at a different place every time and avoid having too many players from the same nationality together. This way we will get away from the groups within the group or as some put it "team within the team." Guys make jokes about it but you still see a French guy get up and go sit next to a Swede or Slovak etc... In the early stages of team building, it is a good way to get to know everybody as well.

Our final exhibition game is at home on Saturday against Villard de lans. Then the real games begin!