Category Archives: penalty shots

The Greatest Comeback

There are many flavours of memories that come with playing, coaching and watching hockey over the years.  There are the people themselves that you remember, the strange plays, the great goals, saves and hits, the funny one-liners heard in the dressing room and then there are those memories involving a specific game.   One of my favourite memories was from my recent past, two seasons ago where I was one of the assistant coaches on my son’s minor Bantam select team.  This particular memory involved a come-from-behind win that was as crazy as it was fun.

We were playing in an end-of-year tournament in Toronto and had done well enough in the three game round robin to advance to the semi-final game.  We were playing a Toronto team and while we believed we were pretty evenly matched, we fell behind early and just couldn’t score.   By the time the ten minute third period began, we trailed 4-0.   Our head coach had been yipping at the refs most of the game, hoping that we’d get a call that might result in a powerplay where we could get on the board.

As luck would have it, we did get a powerplay around the 8 minute mark of the third.   And we scored.   Before we could even start talking ourselves into the idea of a comeback, we scored again less than two minutes later.  So with six minutes and change on the clock, we were suddenly in a 4-2 game and the boys we’re feeling pretty good about themselves.   Our head coach being a motivator and quite excited about all this, yipped yet again at the ref and promptly got tossed from the game with about 5 minutes remaining.

But no matter, our guys killed the penalty and with about 3 minutes to go scored to make it a one goal game.   Now by this point there was bedlam on the bench, bedlam on the ice and bedlam in the stands.  Myself and the other assistant were yelling at each other at stoppages in play trying to coordinate when would pull the goalie.   It turned out, we didn’t need to.  Our guys scored yet again with a buck thirty left on the clock and we had a tie game.

In overtime, the Cinderella finish played itself out in the most exciting way possible.  Our top gun, and one of the funniest kids I’ve ever coached, got tripped on a breakaway and was awarded a penalty shot.  Never one to shy from the spotlight and big moment, he went in and deked their goalie so cleanly it was ridiculous.  Beat him like a rented mule as the saying goes.

Funny thing was, we then moved on to the final and trailed 2-0 in that game with less than two minutes to go.   Again, by the time the buzzer went we had scored twice to tie it.   However, in overtime in that one, the hockey gods decided to look the other way and we lost 2-1.

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Filed under Coaching, Comebacks, penalty shots, tournaments

How Not To Score on a Penalty Shot

“You skate like Ovechkin!”  At first, I thought it was a compliment.  However, I had just missed a penalty shot at the end of my Monday night game earlier this week and quickly realized that the goalie who had stoned me, Moose, was probably trashing me instead.   I’ve just googled Ovechkin’s shootout stats and sure enough, while he’s not at the bottom of the league, at 12 goals on 46 tries, he’s pretty unimpressive.   So…me and Ovie eh?  Who’d have thought.

Anyway, to provide some context, our league has a rule that if a team is leading by one goal in the last minute, and they ice the puck, the trailing team gets a penalty shot after time expires.  We play straight time so this avoids the leading team from taking a wussy way out in the last minute.  This rule also applies if the game is tied.   Since there are no league standings kept, this rule merely adds a little spice to some of the close games.

So…on Monday night with the Blue team down a goal, one of the boys on the other side fires it the length of the ice with 30 seconds to go.  Oops.  After regulation, I take the penalty shot.   Interestingly, last week after the game against this same team ended, I stayed out with Moose in the nets for a little friendly showdown action.  We both had our moments over the course of a half dozen tries.    But this is a new night and as I start in from centre, I notice two things.  First, Moose is halfway to the blueline, or so it appeared.  “What is he doing way out there” I think?  He’s a big guy and so I can’t even see the net.  Second, as I strain to see the net, I realize a toddler on boots who had started at centre with me would be travelling faster to the net.   In I go.  I fake high right on the glove side, only the fake doesn’t fake anyone.  I then move left on my backhand to Moose’s stickside, remembering how he beat me there earlier in the game.  With one final attempt, I go back right and try and wait him out and go over his glove.   As I go right, further, further, there’s Moose, sliding right with me.  Hmmmm.  This isn’t going to work.  Finally I try to lift it over his glove and hit his pad.   Good one.

As I skated off, I remembered a shootout attempt I took a few years back in the high tech league after either a playoff game or a tournament game.  That was one of those goofy setups where shooters from both teams go at the same time.  I didn’t like my angle on that one and it also took me half a shift to get to the net.   I tried to deke 5-hole and the goalie, another huge guy, had an easy save.  I also remember taking a penalty shot mid-game against a friend (and monster goalie) in my house-league days named Sean Fitzgerald.  I started off slow, finished slower and shot like I had two broken wrists right into his pads.

It occurs to me that penalty shots haven’t been kind to me.   But wait, there was one a few years back in the WOHL where I actually did score.   Skated in hard and let a low shot go to the bottom left corner and I have no idea how big the goalie was.

So…from now on, if I ever get another chance, I’m going to start skating from the other end of the rink and go in fast.   I may not score but with my eyes not as good as they once were, and the speed being a little harder to control as I get older, I’m hoping I won’t be able to see the goalie for the first bit and will be going too fast to focus on him for the last bit.

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