After coming off of a disappointing weekend against Holy Cross, the Griffs knew that we had a tough week of work ahead of us. At our first meeting together on Tuesday, the coaches addressed that we needed to focus on our defensive zone play.
For the three days of practice we had last week, we worked relentlessly on improving our defensive play with an emphasis on competitiveness. We had been playing well in our recent games, but we just did not seem to have the edge that is crucial in being successful in this league. By the time the weekend came, the boys were chomping at the bit to get back into a game and prove that we would not be outworked on any part of the ice.
We opened the weekend with a game against the Air Force Academy on Friday night. In the past, Air Force has always iced a strong team and we knew this year would be no different. The Ice Griffs took the ice and put everything we worked on all week in action as we looked to be much stronger in our defensive play.
Air Force struck first but the Griffs didn't quit until we tied the game with less than 10 minutes left in the third period. The game ended in a 1-1 tie, but the boys were proud of the game we played. After missing many chances to score throughout the game, we could have easily became frustrated, but we kept our cool and stuck to our game plan until we found a way to score.
Saturday night we faced the league-leading and nationally-ranked Robert Morris Colonials. It would be our first time meeting the Colonials in Atlantic Hockey play and a great chance to show how good of a team we really are.
The Griffs found themselves behind the eight-ball early on as the Colonials found the back of our net in the first few minutes of the first period. Once again, the Griffs showed resilience as we did not let the bad start bother us and bounced back to play a strong two periods. At the end of the third period, the game remained tied and went into overtime. With only a minute left, Kyle Gibbons tipped a shot into the net to win the game. The on-ice celebration that ensued was a highlight in itself. The boys were finally rewarded for our solid play with a win and it coming in overtime only made it sweeter.
The overtime period against Robert Morris marked the seventh time the Griffs went into extra time this season. Considering we have played 14 games so far this season, this means that we have gone into overtime in half of our games. For the Griffs, this comes to our advantage as we feel as though we are a very well-conditioned team. When some other team's cardio level seems to fade during the game, the Griffs stay strong. Our hard work training on and off the ice has proven to pay off.
It was a successful weekend for the Ice Griffs and we feel as though we showed our best on the ice both nights. It felt great to be rewarded for our solid play, as this has not always been the case this season. Losing for playing poorly is tough, but playing well and losing brings a whole new level of frustration. With the Christmas break fast approaching, we find ourselves with only four games left. We are confident that we can carry over our play from this weekend into next, and hope to make winning a habit.
See you at the rink,
Scott Jenks, #3