Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Coupe De France 1/16

The Coupe de France gets underway for us tonight with a game against Gap, a team we know pretty well from Coupe de la Ligue. This is a single elimination format where it will take 5 wins to reach the finals in front of 14,000 fans in Paris.

Last season, while I was with Epinal, we reached the 1/4 finals, losing to Angers. While Briancon, one of the best teams in the league last year, were ousted in the first round against a much weaker Dijon team.

My main objective this season was to play on a top team and help them to a championship. After attending the Coupe de France Final the last two seasons as a spectator in Paris, I am really hoping to have an opportunity to take part as a player and win the very coveted Coupe de France Title!

Mission Begins: Tonight 20h30 at René Froger!

Thursday, 15 October 2009

A BIg Month

The month of October has been my favourite month for as long as I can remember and as we have hit the half way point now, I would like to take some time to explain my reasons. Obviously a lot has changed since it became (in my opinion) the best month of the year. As a young boy, my reasons were pretty simple as I would look forward to October because my birthday is on the 22nd. Then things started to evolve with the NHL season starting in early October so that was a big thrill as I would wake up early every morning to watch the highlights on TSN's Sports Desk (now Sports Center). Also the new hockey video game would be released in October. NHL 93 was a hit for SEGA and then it evolved into Playstation 1, then PS2, and eventually X BOX 360. Wow, as I read that last sentence out loud I realize that for the past 18 years I have been excited for a hockey video game to be released.

Thanksgiving which just passed was always a highlight for me, mostly because we had a 3 day weekend and more time to play road hockey outside as the weather was just perfect to wear jogging pants and my Stéphane Richer jersey. My best friend growing up, Matt Holland had his birthday on the 17th, followed by his dad's on the 18th, then my dad's on the 20th and two days later my own. So Matt's birthday was always fun, I remember one year we went to a Monster Truck show at the old Pontiac Silverdome, where the Detroit Lions NFL team used to play. Then for my party, I believe for 8 years straight we rented the Optimist Community Center's gym to play floor hockey.

Halloween topped the great month off and pushed us into November, which to me just served as a month of preparation, before the fun began for December. But I will not discuss the details of 2 weeks off from school, Christmas, playing road hockey in the snow outside or more importantly the World Junior Hockey Championships, that is another story to be told at another time.

So here in Briancon, France October is still my favourite month, I love the clothes I get to wear in Autumn, the leaves are changing colours, our hockey team is starting to gel and we are playing more games. It is a great time of the year, and the more I think about it, the more I realize that almost everything is related to hockey. This month in particular we have some of our toughest games of the season. We already played in Epinal, which was great, then we played at home against our rivals Grenoble taking the win 4-0, now this weekend we head to Angers to play one of the top teams in our league, then we play undefeated Morzine and travel to Rouen for our last game of the month, on Halloween.

Looks like I wont be doing any trick or treating this year but on October 31st when we play Rouen, I might try to dress up like Al MacInnis

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Gastro Attack

Lying in my bed right now as I write this email, I strongly believe I am on the road to recovery. After playing Tuesday night at home against Villard in Coupe de la Ligue action, I got home and was severely ill. I do not want to get into too much detail but it was a Gastro Terrorist Attack in my stomach, with all the screaming and explosions. Suffering from severe dehydration from the game the night before and the planned attacks on my intestines, I was in the hospital early Wednesday morning with an intravenous. I returned home, feeling a bit better, but still under attack "down below" and with severe cramps and further dehydration, I was forced to return again that day for the same treatment and some blood work.

With Wednesday also being team picture day, I was able to find enough energy to make it down the 4 flights of stairs from my apartment and get to the rink. I will be the guy sitting in the front row whose face blends into the white on the jerseys. Heading home that night I was awake every two hours but awoke feeling a little better. I began eating Thursday with rice and carrots and started getting some strength back (so I thought). Then about 4pm things started to turn for the worse, I had a temperature of 39 and cramps so strong I honestly thought I was going to give birth to something. So you guessed it, back to the hospital Thursday night, more blood work because of my high temperature and I think they noticed my dry lips and pale face and thought I could go for a 3rd intravenous of 1L.
Oh, and they also requested a sample. Yes a sample of that, yes it was a very uncomfortable procedure. Did they get their sample? Damn right they got it!!!

Anyways, I awoke Friday feeling better, started thinking about the game in Epinal and how I had marked on the calender the day the schedule came out. I was going to do anything to play in that game. It was understood that I would not be making the trip with the team Friday night and if there was a miracle, maybe I could drive up on Saturday. Well, lets just say I forced the issue, I ate lots of food, gained a bit of strength and someone convinced my team to let me come. We only had 4 defensemen playing so I thought I could be a spare every once in a while and play some power play for us. Well that is what happened, but after losing 10 pounds in 3 days, competing for the World's Worst tan against Frosty the snowman, lets just say I was not at my best. I played probably about 6-7 minutes in the game, made a few mistakes, took an elbowing penalty (which is French for Body Checking) but was on the ice for 2 of our power play goals.

Not a performance to remember but certainly a game I will never forget. The Supporters in Epinal, which was home to me the past 2 seasons gave me a very warm welcome. They sang my name for minutes at a time, they even chanted Gervais Gervais when I took my penalty haha. That was the only thing they could cheer about. After the game was very special, I shook hands with many of my old teammates, wished them well for the season and when exiting the ice the fans again were chanting my name. I was about to enter the room once more but I was called back onto the ice once again to salute everyone and thank them for the 2 great seasons we had together.

A special night for sure, we got the victory 3-1, Briancon's first win in Epinal in 3 years so I was glad to be a part of that too. Now I will have to take a step back and really try to get back to 100%, because any energy I had was all from emotion last night and getting my strength and weight back will be the next step as we have a very big game next Saturday against Grenoble.