Last night I had the pleasure of attending my first high school hockey game in about a year, since OYS played in the yeshiva league championship. Ahhh! Nothing like the aroma of a gym full of sweaty teenaged boys!
In any event, the Good Guys
beat their crosstown rival by a score of 3 - 0 in the semi-final and now go on to play a rematch with the team that beat them in last year's final (the Good Guys' only loss of last season).
What I found striking is that although the players have changed, the Good Guys' style of play was virtually identical to last year's team. The formula is simple (if not so simple to execute):
* Find excellent Coaches whom the players like and respect.
* Pick lots of talented, athletic (but not great), team-oriented players who hustle.
* Use lots of those players and change lines frequently.
* Sprinkle in a few very talented players.
* Add a great goaltender.
* Build a gym with a very large court.
* Win enough games to gain home court advantage through the playoffs.
* Run like crazy and put relentless pressure on the opposition.
* Swarm on defense.
And, last night, the formula worked to perfection. After a scoreless first period, the Good Guys' took advantage of a power play and scored on a nifty shot from the point. Two more goals, both scored on beautiful long range slap shots (one a ridiculous backhander from the point) by one of the very talented guys sealed the win. The goalie did a great job of turning aside the few tough shots that went his way (and could, possibly turned the momentum around).
The third period was typical. The crosstown rivals would have been well-served by oxygen tanks on their bench. They were gassed. The Good Guys swarmed all over them and totally dominated the period.
A final word about the team (based on my keen observations of one game!). On the one hand, they are not quite as physically talented as last year's team. Amazingly, their goaltender is probably even better than last year's (and we are talking about a kid who won four championships in six years of school hockey and lost about six games through that entire period). But beyond that, they don't match up. For one, while their top defenseman is REALLY good and has an insane slap shot, they are missing OYS, a dominant defenseman (if I do say so myself) who played an entirely different, stylish kind of game. They also don't have the offensive firepower or creativity of last year's team. On the other hand, they are faster and more aggressive than last year's team. (Last year's team was beaten by a team that didn't match up with them talent-wise but out ran and out hustled them in the final; aggression, speed and hustle can make up for a lot of talent in this league).
So, next week, The Good Guys put it all on the line one more time. I like their chances.