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A LEARNING EXPERIENCE: HARD LESSON FROM THE OIL BARONS (Write Up: October 14)
Posted October 17th, 2017 @ 1:28 pm

Copyright TG Storey

PERIOD ONE

How else should you refer to a 5 – 0 beat down on home ice, in front of an expectant home team crowd, other than to say it was a learning experience? And what a tough lesson?

Early in the first period I figured that the Grizzlys had another win wrapped up. “It’s in the bag,” I was telling myself. Wink, wink. Nudge, nudge.

Wished there was a para-mutual window I could put some money down on the home team for what’s gonna be a sure win. Baby needs a new set of shoes, and all that.

Or, as famed Las Vegas odds maker, Jimmy the Greek, reportedly said of a sure thing. “Bet your lungs.”

I was wrong, as I often am. I am the first to admit I know damn little about hockey.

But when I saw Grizzlys # 15, Forward, Jack BERGER, dispatching members of the opposing Ft. McMurray, Oil Barons with body crunching body checks, like those fellers going after zombies in the Walking Dead, what was I supposed to think? Seemed like a damned fine strategy that might have worked, if he’d kept at it.

But those zombies from the Walking Dead are sometimes faster than they seem. And better organized and adaptive too. Before too long some of those Ft. McMurray zombies, er sorry, Oil Barons were blasting up at the ice with tight, lattice work, rink wide passes.

Like a hockey playing, diesel powered, turbo equipped Swiss clock.  Unnatural is what it was. But deadly effective.

The first of five unanswered Ft. McMurray goals came at 4:11 of Period 1. It happened so fast I had to ask hockey league officials to talk me through it.

It was a rebound play is what it was. A Ft. McMurray player fired a shot from low in the faceoff circle to the right of the Grizzlys’ goal tender, Andrew Henderson. Henderson stopped it. But the puck bounced off, right onto the stick of Oil Barons player, # 19, Forward, Ryan COX. He was low, on the faceoff circle to Andrew Henderson’s left.

Cox fired the puck the millisecond it hit his stick. It beat Henderson on his stick side.

But really, how is a goal tender supposed to stop something like that? He stops the first shot on the right side of his goal. Then he has to move across the net to try and get a piece of a quick, close in shot from his left. Sometimes there just isn’t time. An example of magnificent, tight, quick, lattice work play on the part of the Oil Barons is what it was.

This type of play continued throughout the first period. Jack Berger didn’t seem to be checking as much later on. Checks from other Grizzlys players seemed, at times half hearted, and ineffective.

The Ft. McMurray team remained, fast, fast, fast. Accurate passing. And fast. Shots on goal are rising, in favor of the Oil Barons.

At 14:06 of Period 1, there is a second Oil Barons goal. It was a lot like the first one.

A shot is delivered from low in the faceoff circle to the right of the Grizzlys goal tender. It is deflected off a body or a stick.

The puck goes to Oil Baron # 25 Forward, Will CONLEY. He is low on the inside edge of the faceoff circle to the left of Olds goal tender, Henderson. Conley fires the puck. Henderson can’t get there in time.

Period 1 ends 2 – 0 in favor of the Oil barons. Shots on goal are 6-13, also in favor of Ft. McMurray.

The Swiss clock zombies retire to their dressing room for whatever between period maintenance Swiss clocks receive. The Grizzlys are perhaps strategizing.

And me? Geezer that I am, I’m thinking about soccer, another game I know nothing about. I’m thinking about the 1958 World Cup final between Brazil and Sweden.

Sweden was a Swiss clock type of team, a technical team, famous for its tightly controlled checkerboard, lattice work style of play. Brazil tried to become proficient in that style, to beat the Swiss at their own game. But the coat didn’t fit.

So Brazil resorted to its own style of play. Some kind of hybrid, Amazon jungle boogie, called Ginga. According to one Internet source Ginga is about, “dribbling, juggling, and controlling the ball with all parts of your foot. Ginga is about doing that surprise move or trick.” Famed soccer legend, Pele, was a master at it.

In the 1958 World Cup Final, Brazil used Ginga to hose the Swedes to a 5 – 2 loss.


PERIOD

And so, as Period 2 opened, I hoped to see a modern day Pele, in Grizzlys uniform, lay some hockey Ginga on the Ft. McMurray Oil Barons. It just didn’t happen.

The Grizzlys did pick up their game in the Second Period. But it looked to me, the guy who knows nothing of hockey, like they tightened up in a Swiss clock kind of fashion. More checkerboard, lattice work style of play. And the Oil barons were just better at it than the Grizzlys.

Play was hard and fast. And the Grizzlys gave it their all. But they couldn’t beat the Oil Barons in that style of play.

With more practice? Yeah sure. The Grizzlys have some great talent, and heart. And I see them improving every game.

Sometime during the Second Period the game became a blur to me, an ugly car accident kind of smear.
As mentioned, the action was quick, continuous. I imagined my camera lens, snapping pics at a rate of 8 per second, to try and keep up, overheating and coming to a smoking, steaming stop. But like the game, it raced on.

The Grizzlys almost matched the Oil Barons in shots on goal in Period 2. Almost, but not quite. The tally was 12 -14 in favor of the Barons.

The Grizzlys kept the Barons from scoring for most of the period. But at 19:57, it happened.  Ft. McMurray scored again, making it 3 – 0.

The puck was up against the boards, mid faceoff circle level, off to the Grizzlys’ goaltender’s right. Three players were fighting for it, two Barons and only one Grizzly. The puck got loose, was passed to a Barons player positioned at the hash marks on the inside of the playoff circle to the right of the Grizzlys’ net. He let it  fly and beat Olds goalie, Henderson. Scoring credit to Ft. McMurray Forward, # 15, MORRISON


PERIOD THREE

The Grizzlys battled on with heart in the third period. But they were out played, and out shot, by Ft. McMurray team that was bettered practiced at checkerboard, lattice work hockey.

Shots on goal favored the Barons 5 – 7.

The final two goals of the game, Ft. McMurray goals, were scored in the far end of the rink from my camera. And quite frankly, the quickly diminishing possibility of a win by Olds had my concentration waning.

The score card tells me that the fourth goal against Olds was scored on an open net.

Grizzlys’ goal tender, Henderson, was in the crease when, goal number 5 was scored. I was too disheartened to record a description.

Nonetheless, had I been choosing the games stars, Olds Goal Tender, Andrew Henderson would have taken the honors for Olds. He stopped an amazing 28 of 32 overall shots fired at him.

There are shots on net. And there are shots on net. The goals that I saw that got past Henderson, were well orchestrated, well-engineered affairs. An initial shot would draw him to one side of the net where he would make the save. The scoring shot would come from the other side. That’s how the first two goals happened.

The third goal was, as mentioned, a shot from close in, from mid-way up the inside of the faceoff circle to Henderson’s right.  Maybe he should have had this one. But human reflex is only so fast.

As it was, Olds Forward, # 14 Quentin GREENWOOD, took official home team, star of the game honors. And well deserved honors they are.

And the home team fans? If they were anything like me they left the Sportsplex drained, exhausted, by an hour of non-stop, end to end action. And gratified by a hometown team that fought hard, right to the end.

The Olds Grizzlys were bettered on this particular night. But watch out Swiss clock zombies from up north. This was a learning experience. We will meet again.

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