Monday, April 03, 2006

We Made It... Toledo vs St. Louis For the National Championship

Thank You God!!!

We've done the unthinkable... we made it to the national championship game on Tuesday night... A heart-stopping, overtime 3-2 win over the Minnesota Ice Hawks on Monday night put us there... It was an end to end thriller with both teams on the edge the whole night... I was screaming like a schoolgirl on the air when Toby scored the goal. It wasn't a highlight reel spectacular goal. Toby just picked up a loose puck and skated wide and fired a 25-footer towards the net and captured the Ice Hawk goaltender completely by surprise. It triggered off a wild celebration on the ice... To give you an idea how special it is to have made it there, I should tell you, it has been all season, never getting respect. We've never been considered a top team this year. We finished the regular season in a tie for third. We had the tie-breaker to occupy the third spot in the playoff seeding. But the league put us in the fourth spot anyway. Our arguably two best players (twin brothers) got called up to the next level halfway through the season. Our parent team was supposed to send us a couple of players to help us since we gave them our 2 best players. Of course they sent not one player to us to help all year and we were left in the cold to fend for ourselves. When we went to the playoffs, most folks said we might get out of the first round but that would be it. So, what happened? We play the first round against a team we hadn't beaten all year and swept them. Next, at Hurster Cup, we beat the #1 team in the nation but lose to them in the league championship game. But by beating them the first time and not losing any games in the round robin portion of the tournament, we qualified for nationals. At nationals, we were told that the teams in our pool weren't too bad Syracuse, Connecticut, and Twin Cities... If we were able to pull off two wins against Syracuse and CT., we would most likely lose to the Twin Cities Northern Lights. So, we beat the Northern Lights 3-2 with a goal scored by Nate who was taken down and sliding on his back and still flipped the puck over the Twin Cities goalie. And then Semi-finals Monday night against Minnesota... Minnesota was picked to win the National title. To even beat St. Louis... And we were not even given much thought. Ran into some of the players the night before the game. They said stuff like "have a great trip home" and "have a safe bus ride back"... We just stayed focused and I never seen a group of young men so devoted to each other. We beat the Ice Hawks Monday night with Toby, the most unlikely of heroes, getting the game winning goal. Back when we lost the twins due to call-ups, Toby had given up playing hockey. He was sitting on his couch and doing nothing when his dad and our coach had a conversation. The Michigan Ice Dogs (a team in our league) had his rights, and the rights of his younger brother Roo... so we were able to obtain their rights. That was nice, but they weren't as aggressive and talented as the twins. Roo was very quick and has some talent. Toby on the other hand, was a broken down, out of shape, slow skater with two really bad knees. If he was a horse, he would've been shot and at the glue factory by now. He and Roo played a couple of games 3 years ago but left the team cause they thought that they could dominate the high school level and play elsewhere. A move that Toby to this day says is the biggest regret of his life. This year is his last year of eligibility and then his career is probably over. But he had heart and he had experience. So he helped us out a little bit. It wasn't till the last couple of weeks of the regular season and throughout the playoffs, Toby and Roo both have stepped up their games. Especially Toby. He was a long shot to do anything special and yet it was Toby who scored the overtime goal to put us into the National Championship. I never seen him able to leap so high in the air. The whole team mobbed him. He climbed out of the pile and went over to one of our coaches and fell into his arms and started sobbing like a little kid. It was so satisfying to see such a good person who is in the twilight of his career, at the ripe old age of 20... Prior to this, he had never been to any kind of playoff or post-season... this is the first time he's been to anything in the post-season... and in his last season as a player. I found myself crying on the broadcast when Toby was on the ice and being mobbed by his teammates. Even people in the stands had tears in their eyes while watching all of this unfold... I felt such pride as a member of the Toledo Cherokee. We have to beat St. Louis again, this time in the National Championship game tonight at 7:30pm ET... I'll be broadcasting it on http://cherokee.totalink.net and in my heart I'll be rooting for the underdogs, including an outta shape, broke down, old horse with two bum knees to get a ring... and for Toby too...

3 comments:

Riccie said...

What a story...brings tears to my eyes as well. All the best tonight. You guys are already winners.

Jackson said...

what??? I listened to what was the last quarter.........I thought. How many quarters are there? lol Shows how much I know about hockey :(

Mik said...

There's three, 20 minute periods in hockey. At nationals, if the game is tied after three periods, the teams have to go to overtime. Then it's first goal wins... We're in the title game tonight at 7:30pm ET... I'm just a human pickle poopin' machine... I am soooooooooooo NERVOUS...