In just my first year of travel hockey, here I am in the Pee Wee championship game. In this best 2 out of 3 series we, The Jr. Rampage, are one win away from being the 2015-2016 DSTHL champions.
It was quite a struggle for the first 10 minutes or so; anybody’s game at this point. Then I get sent to the sin bin for interference even though I’m certain the Tulsa kid was interfering with me! If you don’t believe me just ask my mom. Regardless, my team masterfully kills the penalty and I blast out of the box cleanly behind the defense. At that moment, the rink explodes with the same scream. “He’s up here!!” Half of them yelling for my teammate Levi to headman the puck to me, half for the Tulsa defense to get back and cover me. Luckily Levi reacted first and flipped the puck to me tape-to-tape. I received the puck behind the defensemen, but he was coming back fast. I protected the puck well but he had me locked in tight coverage so I cut to the outside slowing up a little as I did so to the to gain space. He flew by and I powered a shot that climbed its way up the goalie’s blocker and found the top shelf. I was relieved and pumped that the shot went in. The feeling I got was just unmatched by any other. It was a true mix of joy, satisfaction, and my confidence soared. I felt, “At last!” I made a significant contribution to my team.
That goal totally fired us up and changed the momentum of the game. Tulsa knew they needed a win to get a chance to play us in a third game on Sunday, but that goal flattened them for a bit. The next shift (which was in the 2nd period) they took a stupid tripping penalty, and Levi capatilized on the opportunity to make it 2-0. Unfortunately, Tulsa got on the board with a lucky five-hole shot. Coming right back, Jack scored a power play goal about 2 minutes later.
So, 3-1 three quarters through the second period, how can we lose, right? We started to picture our names on the banner a little too soon though. The Oilers came back scoring 2 more goals in the last 5 minutes of the second period. After that, Tulsa gained the lead scoring in the opening minute of the 3rd. For the first time, I think we could all felt a chill go through us. We realized we hadn’t won the championship yet. We needed to tighten down our game and play like the TEAM we worked hard all season to become. Skate. Hustle. Communicate. Pass.
Just as I was trying to make a play, I took one for the team. Receiving a headman pass with my back to the defensemen he hit me from behind going at full speed and landed square on my hip. I didn’t have the luxury of feeling the pain the, but it still hurts now, more than a week later. However, Keegan Macarthur tied up the game 4-4 soon after. No more scoring in the third sent the game to overtime. Hey, we might not make the playoffs every year. You have to make it last when you do.
Just to keep it interesting, we fought through overtime with stone hard defensive play and absolutely no shots on net for either side. No one wants to give up a sudden death goal. Extending the game further we went on to the shootout. We sent our stealthy shooter Adrian out first. He set the tone with a nice deke to the backhand. Next, Colton caught an edge and Tulsa’s first shooter got lucky and scored. Keegan glided out on the ice for our next shot. He put a similar move on their Goalie and seemingly effortlessly put the puck on net. Though the Oilers next shooter gave good move, Colton sprawled out with his glove acrobatically. We’re up two shots to one. Levi then turned on his Spidey Skills and scored his shootout goal with a slick backhand move as well. Tulsa’s 3rd shooter got a taste of brick wall as Colton effortlessly stuck out the right pad. Jr. Rampage 3, Tulsa 1 after 3 shooters. Our big man, Cameryn, takes the ice but unfortunately loses the puck. No shot. Their 4th shooter approaches the puck and Colton is ready. He stops the shot with his blocker and flings his gloves in the air, unleashing a Jr. Rampage team celebration full of Woooooing, hugging, laughing, fist pumping, and chest bumping. I wanted to savor this moment, but the referees reminded us we still needed to line up for the handshake and presentation of the trophies. We fought hard, battled, and won TOGETHER. The look on the guys’ faces in the team picture says it all…FORCE!
Jr Rampage Peewee Celebration. Photo rights to Cooper Owens.