Sunday, December 09, 2007

Hockey weekend

Assistant coach Neil arranged for our Novice B team to visit the Habs practice Saturday morning. We watched the Canadiens do break-out drills and practice shooting and missing the net, it seems. Assistant coach and former Canadiens captain Kirk Muller came out to greet us afterward, although Child Three had chosen that moment to go to the bathroom and missed him.

That evening, we met the third NDG team in our division, having lost the first NDG-NDG match-up against the second team last week. We took it to our rivals, and our kids executed the game-plan to perfection to take the game 3-0. Our final goal was scored doubly shorthanded with the opposing goalie pulled, so that it was six on three. It wasn't a long shot, either. Two of our three penalty-killers kept the puck along the boards in the opposing zone until the goal-scorer was able to deke his way to the slot and put the puck in. The second NDG team, meanwhile, forfeited a game Saturday and that put us back into first place.

Today, we won again, against a team we previously beat 2-0. Child Three could have had a shutout if he'd used his stick on a looong shot instead of going to his knees to make a glove stop. Ah, well.

I had my first coaching crisis as well. I wanted to move one of our forwards back to defence and move our weakest defenceman up to forward, as he wanted to do. I had another kid, who'd been a forward, who asked to go back to defence but he didn't make it to this game. I had to choose a forward to put on defence.

As soon as I told the new defenceman for the day that he'd be playing back, he started yelling, whining, and crying. I assume he felt it was a demotion. He needs to research Bobby Orr. As I explained, I wanted him on defence because he's one of the top skaters and puck-controllers on the team, but he doesn't have much of a shot. In our first five games, he had no goals despite numerous opportunities. He also has periods when he doesn't bother to backcheck, although he's much improved in that area. For one game, I wanted him to play back and quarterback the team. I didn't want to move a forward who always backchecks to D, because such a kid will be back to help defend anyway.

If my chosen defenceman had just decline politely and quietly, I could have accepted that better than his loud outburst and tears (he tends to complain). With his tantrum in front of the team, he devalued, insulted, and demoralized the five kids who do play defence. If I accede to him, I'm agreeing with him in front of the team. When he gave me the ultimatum "If I'm on defence, I'm not playing," all I could do was agree.

In the end, I decided a sulking defenceman would do no good at all, so we went with four defencemen and eight forwards. The chosen non-defender scored his first two goals to lead us to a 3-1 victory. I guess he showed me.

Unfortunately, one of our players received an inexplicable ten-minute misconduct penalty at the end of the game. That lost us a Franc-Jeu (a provincial fair-play program) point in the standings, dropping us into a tie for first place. The refs took off without explaining or even informing us of the penalty, for verbal abuse of an official. This is a good kid, too, who appeared to say nothing. Ah, well.


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