JVGPucks really doesn’t have anything to do with being a junior version of varsity. We’re certainly not a ‘feeder’ program for varsity. Though some of our players move up to varsity, we’re really a totally different animal. Their game is fast and skilled, graceful and explosive. Our game, in no way inferior, is just played at a different pace. Our action is fierce, we’re working hard and we’re getting better by the week. What I tell people is that our game, in terms of entertainment value, is actually more exciting because the suspense of each play is protracted and often unpredictable.
At varsity level there are clear patterns and flows, and players know the game well enough to anticipate what they’ll need to be doing next. At our level there isn’t quite that same awareness (hockey IQ), yet, of what is about to, or should, happen, and we can’t always easily do what we know we want to do, so anything can happen and we’re continually surprised with how things play out…or don’t.
Varsity plays happen in split-seconds. At our level the action around the goal areas can stretch out over several seconds as players orient their feet, hands and sticks to try to get a job done. Gut-wrenching, teeth-gritting, fist-clenching, hold-your-breath extended action, with sticks thrashing and bodies flailing, remains sustained and unresolved for 5, 6 and 8 seconds. The puck can be right there, teasing like a Golden Snitch, with nobody able to get a handle on it. The prolonged tension can finally peak with a release of tremendous relief or giddy joy.
And the secret’s out. People want to play this game! (Who wouldn’t!?!) We have 28 players on our roster and our hosts today have even more. Like us, KU coaches Scott Domingos and Maura Doyle are having a blast every day with their group. At the end of the congratulatory handshake line today, with a twinkle in his eye, Scott facetiously said, “A real chess match!” It was a spirited contest with dramatic moments throughout. The only real challenge for the coaches was to keep the lines organized and ‘rolling’ one after the other.
We had a lot fun today. Several of our players were in Concord at the Women’s March (with our full support!) so that meant scrambled lines but also more ice-time for the remaining players. Hannah stoned a breakaway. We had a frozen rope miss top ched by inches. Bar down Mexico next time. 1 trip to the sin bin but our PK did the job to keep the game tied. Our on-the-fly line changes allowed us to sustain pressure in the their end. Our F1s were amped up and forechecking with abandon. We knocked on the door repeatedly. Players blew tires and self-bundled, but we also hustled to the dirty areas and got a net-front equalizer. Magnificent effort.
‘Rolling’ lines means just putting out the next line in order rather than favoring one line with more time or putting out the top group in key situations. Today we rolled ‘em. With the score tied 1-1 and just seconds left on the clock, the game came down to one last faceoff in our defensive end. The next line up was our 4th group…and out they went. Talk about suspense! We won the draw, we kept the puck away from our net, the horn sounded and the team scrambled out to congratulate their netminder, each other and the host team. Another fabulous day at the rink.