Tag Archives: world league

How does it feel to be the Leafs?

“Errr… Welcome to Vancouver, the temperature outside is 15 degrees and slightly overcast… please remain seated until the seatbelt sign turns off… ohhh and for those looking for an update in the hockey game the Leafs are up 4 – 1 in the 3rd period… flight attendants please prepare for cross check… “
 

These were the first words we heard after arriving back in Vancouver from Paris and the many Leafs fans on board our flight AC181 from Toronto to Vancouver were quick to burst out into cheering and applause. Little did they know that by the time we had passed the first bar in the airport the score would be 4-3, by the time we had reached the baggage carousel it would be 4 -4 and by the time I climbed into my car and turned on the radio the Bruins had scored in overtime to win Game 7. On the drive home the radio hosts were already talking about how this was one of the greatest chokes in playoff history, and the front page of the Toronto Sun the next day sums up perfectly the general sentiment in the GTA…images

The irony of the situation did not escape me and I was quick to draw parallels to our own result in Paris at the FIH World League Round 2 Tournament only 36 hours earlier where we blew a 2 – 0 first half lead against France to lose 3 – 2. It was a win and your in scenario with only the top 2 teams progressing into the next round and thus we were extremely disappointed to come away with nothing… the wounds were still very fresh…

As I watched the highlights of the Leafs collapse later that night I couldn’t help but continue to draw parallels between the two games as at both the TD Bank Garden in Boston and the Saint Germain Hockey Club in Paris the home fans had helped to propel the comeback.  Their passion and energy helped to shift the momentum in the matches and we were unable to swing it back in time to hold on to the match.

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As an athlete I hate the word Choke and I feel for those Leafs guys getting blasted by the press and their own fans. Games are a constant roller coaster of momentum and in my 7 years as a member of the Canadian Team and 2 years in the Bundesliga I have seen this roller coaster shaped in countless different ways. The mistake we made in Paris was allowing that roller coaster of momentum to shift to such a degree that you feel like there is nothing you can do about it and you are merely out there waiting for them to score…

From my experience I think that solving this scenario is super simple and does not require 10 years of experience or 200 caps to learn. You need solid basics and to win fouls in order to slow down the match, decrease the tempo, allow your own team to reset and begin slowing down the momentum shift. Scooping the ball 70 yards seems at times like the best option to relieve pressure however often the ball is merely picked up and pumped back into your own half putting yourself on the back foot again. It’s the same in ice hockey where teams holding a lead tend to just hit the red line, dump it in and then retreat, allowing teams like the Bruins an easy opportunity to start an effective breakout. Our team, like the Leafs needs to learn from this experience and recognize the reasons for failure in order to prevent losses like this in the future. Solid basics, a strong mentality and an ability to recognize and respond correctly to situations and the shifting momentum in the match is critical and provides a framework for success.

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Overall this was certainly a disappointing result and progressing to World League Round 3 would have been a huge accomplishment and reward for our hard work, however I have to keep in mind that this is a young group at the beginning of a journey and we will have more chances for glory on the Road to Rio 2016

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