Thursday, September 20, 2007

finally, a challenge...

that's strictly hockey speaking, of course. goodness knows i've had my fair share of challenges beyond the hockey world since i've been here. but back to the topic at hand.

yesterday we departed for our first EWHL road trip to bratislava to play Slovan. last week we beat them 3-0 (ending a 26 game winning streak for their club). but last night they were a different team and came out with all cylinders firing. they gave us the best game we've played since we've been here. there was less time to think, react and shoot and it was great. i felt more at home in last night's game than the sad blow outs we've had against lesser teams thus far.

at the end of the first i broke the puck out of our zone and went down on a 2-1 with Simon, one of my teammates. we played it out textbook style and put the puck in the net for a beauty of a goal. it was by far one of my favorite moments this year. i loved her (and our whole team's) excitement afterwards. it was about time we had a goal that needed celebrating. we put in another before Slovan replied with 2. our team had not been challenged much in our defensive zone, previous to last night's game, so it was good to have to battle it out and struggle at the same time. it was the first two goals that have been scored on us yet this year. about time, i might say. if that doesn't seem logical, go talk to a competitive person you know... they'll tell you a good battle with some struggle is much more satisfying than an easy win.

with the game at a 2-2 tie, we went into overtime. after an unsuccessful 5 minutes, we went into a shoot out. i was so nervous, feeling the pressure of being the import player, and i knew i was going to shoot. there was an excited energy in the stadium (which could have just been my imagination, considering the 2500 empty seats in the building). but i was excited at the same time and took a moment to enjoy the circumstances. as an import, this isn't my world and the only reality i'm a part of. but for my teammates and coaches, this is it, this is the big time, this is what they've been pouring into for many years. i'm really building this up to be something great, but don't get too excited, i didn't score. jackie shot first, no goal. slovan - no goal. then i shot, no goal - same for slovan. on it went until finally, the 6th shooter from our team put it in and there was much celebration!! the team president, mr. kott, was so pumped he grabbed both jackie and i (as we stood against the boards with the team) and gave us a big hug! it was precious, though we were both perplexed as to why he was hugging us when neither of us scored. i think it had something to do with our play helping the team to get to the point we were, i don't know. i did play the best hockey i've played since i got here, and it was so great to smile, relax and enjoy each moment like i usually do at home.

i'd like to report that sara was in net for the win, but she sat out last night's game so that one of the slovak players could play. sara was stellar as a teammate who was positive, encouraging and just an all-around example of the attitude someone should have when they're thinking of the team, and not themself. dobre sara! ("good job, sara"... in czech) she wasn't alone on the sidelines though, as our new friend, jason from virgina, and our old slovak friend from the aia tour, martina, kept her company. jason's pretty much canadian, now that he's experienced the excitement of a good hockey game. he was right into it! it was great.

on another topic, i realize i haven't given a good update (or any update at all) on some of the, ahem, spectacular food here, so i'll be prepping a good lesson, for next entry, on the ups and downs of the czech food culture. now THAT is something to look forward to...