I can remember playing mini-mites in Tonawanda where I grew up, just 10 minutes outside of Buffalo. While I was one to take those games very seriously, we were all just out there to chase a black puck until we were escorted back into the locker room. "Dad, we lost 6-2! Ugh Johnny is gonna rub it in my face at school tomor-...wait...are those freezie pops?"
As we grow, we begin our own little recruiting games, talking to the best players at school, trying to get them all to play on the same "travel team" the next year. I would play up to 60 games a year, with half of them being somewhat close scores due to the stacking of teams. While we all worked hard, it was obvious some teams were able to win games purely because of their talent level. I was lucky enough to be on both sides of that coin at some point, from easy wins to brutal beat-downs that made me question whether I was in the right sport.
While things grew tighter through high school and into junior hockey there was still a bit of the same. It was rare to see a team at the top of the standings lose to one at the bottom. Games decided by 6 or 7 goals weren't all that uncommon. Then I got to college. Here, every team is good, and every game is a battle.
It is the moments after we win a one-goal game, when guys are wrapped with ice bags and others can't stop sweating even after their post game shower that are the most satisfying. It's the gratification of knowing how much effort it took to beat that team in the other dressing room by just one measly goal. One shot, one deflection, one mistake, or even one inch may have been the difference. It's knowing that we gave everything we had for 60 minutes and were rewarded for our work throughout the week that feels so great.
We put in countless hours of work throughout a season. But, we must remember we do it all for just 60-minute games. It is those 60 minutes that can be the most strenuous, but most rewarding times we have in college. Going into the last couple weeks of the regular season those are the kind of things we need to remember. Trust the game plan and when the puck drops just bring it.
Until next week, keep your head up.
Scott Moser, #24