It felt like the team was ready to fold up before the puck would even drop. With it being an early Sunday game, missing our three strong centers on an already offensively challenged team was going to be a big problem. One of our stronger defensemen moved up, and a winger played back.
The game was only a total of 42 minutes, but the roller coaster ride it was for me felt like it was six different games. I played ok for the first handful of shifts. I got the puck out of the zone when I could, and I'd make myself an option regularly. I then hit a string of bad plays. I wasn't winning battles along the boards, I wasn't catching passes, I wasn't clearing the zone, and I missed the net on a gorgeous 2 on 1 opportunity.
As I was going through the second stretch, I was fine as it was just one or two mistakes. But as these mistakes add up, they cause scoring chances in the opposite direction. In a one goal game, if you can't be viewed as a reliable player, you're just a liability on the ice and you may as well get off. I cannot stand that feeling. I figured it was my lack of focus, but that just helped me focus on my mistakes more.
Somewhere near the start of the third period, I became frustrated. I was missing easy passes, losing easy battles, and I felt like I was responsible for multiple goals against. I couldn't remember the last time I played well, and I thought about how the Goaldiggers have not won a game yet this session while the Piranhas new season was around the corner and how their last season was 0-19-1. Frustration just seemed to peak. The next shift I decided I had to let some frustration lose. I'd forecheck as hard as I could. I'd hit the defensemen if he was going to get that puck. It didn't matter, there was going to be full effort from me no matter what. This caused more chances for me, and I broke up a lot more chances for the opposing team. I would back check hard and pin the winger along the boards on his rush. I'm getting bigger, stronger and improving my skating. I could feel it at this point. I had the energy that I'd expect I have from playing frequently.
I guess I frustrated the other team a little bit. I definitely felt more whacks, pushes and contact from this point forward. I think that only helped our team and me especially. When I'm getting pushed around, tripped, and such, it reminds me that I'm not going to get hurt. I forget I have pads on and how much of an impact they do take. I definitely get tired much faster when pushed, but it tires out the opponent as well. I'd say I'm in better shape than 90% of the players I play against. We would go on to win this game by one.
I felt the first part of the game I was a liability, and at the end I was a big asset. I needed a few shifts where I felt positive about them. I needed a victory, and so did the Goaldiggers. Confidence is key and it'd be nice to have it for a bit.
The Goaldiggers are off for a bit, and the next game I have will be the first Piranhas game of the summer.