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Poke Check Comes Through

On the left: Poke Check grinning after a goal earlier this season.

Just a note on Poke Check for the bloggers at HLOG who read the "My Gift, My Girl" post last week.

The little digger has been buried on the third line most of the season, the coach calls it a checking line but they seldom get chances to score. She plays LW and much of her work boils down to being gritty along the boards.
Last season playing for the same coach, she led her team in assists. She is a very willing and adept puck passer.

She's unselfish, knows what teamwork means, and is smart enough to understand she cannot stickhandle through 5 players like some girls attempt every game.

About 10 games into the season, with the team floundering, it was decided that our 2nd best center would move back to shore up an inconsistant defense. While the tradeoff had some positive points, it robbed one of our lines of much offensive prowess and punch.

The coach is a good guy, stuck in a tough spot. I didn't like seeing my daughter placed in such a minimal role. She was chosen for it, in some ways, because she's always been the "just happy to be here kid", never complaining and always smiling, loving every minute, win or lose.

PC is #93, lining up at LW on the faceoff.

This year our record at one time (I lost count) was somewhere near 8-22-3. My kid had about 10 points and was losing confidence, I felt. There was much termoil on the team, bickering from parents, and kids who didn't want to play with such and such a kid. It hasn't been fun, not for this Dad anyways.

I did my best not to get caught up in the B.S., but I was gritting my teeth every game. I pulled completely away from the parents, tired of listening to accusations. I couldn't be an ear to this bad blood. As a former coach, with much knowledge of kids hockey, many conflicting parties came to me with problems and perceptions. After the upteenth "let the coaches do their work" plea, I just removed myself from situations which might find me caught in the middle.

I pulled back on the newspaper articles written. I slowed the website posts. Eventually I went the entirety of last month without having a single conversation to one parent about the team or the games. My reasons were selfish, but protective. I did not want to add to the negativeness and poison that was rotting team spirit, and my Poke Check was still smiling when she came off the ice.

While I was somewhat absent in physical presence, it tore me apart not to add my voice and opinion to the growing disatisfaction in search of a solution.

My daughter appreciated me biting my tongue.

Due to a school trip to the snowy Quebec mountains, we both missed a game that resulted in a parent and coaches meeting that didn't exactly clear the air. I was happy not being part of it. I'm not sure I could have been one of the non complainers.

I'm still unsure as to whether my gestures have been the right thing to do.

Much of the team's bickering had to do with the teams lines. Since Poke Check was only making a mild contribution, stilted as she was on the teams "checking" line, I don't know that my complaints would have added any positiveness.

I would always prefer that my own dirty laundry, if you will, not be aired before an audience. I always assumed that if it were to reach a boiling point, a one on one with the coach, privately, would have the best dividends.

For reasons that I do not know, because of my purposely distanced stance, there has been a turn for the better.

As kids started missing games, new line combo's came into effect. Poke Check was henceforth put on the top line for the tournament this weekend in Nepean, Ontario.

In the 1st game, against Stoney Creek, she scored the game winner just two minutes in, on her first shift, by jumping on a rebound. we won 2-0. She finished the game with 5 shots on goal.

In game 2 of the tourney, she set up the first goal with a cross crease feed to her center. Leading 3-1 against a very strong Peterborough team, we were on our way to an upset when we got a penaly call with 1:30 to go in the game. The opponants pressed us in for a good minute, with some scares, but we were finally able to ice the puck with 40 seconds left.

Poke Check beat the icing a foot from the goal line, and tipped an insurance goal into the empty net. We won 4-1.

Needing a win against a North York team that had gone winless in two to reach the semifinals, our team came out and played as if the game was in the bag. We were so confident, we started our backup goalie, and almost blew it.

Tied 2-2, late in the third, the team was playing as though their feet were firmed in cement. Poke Check was a pylon all game, tired from getting up at 6 a.m. and waiting around 4 hours to play a second game in the day.
She did one thing well this game. She hit her centerman with a long pass and she fired the game winner from just inside the blueline.

We finished the round robin at 3-0 and we have a semi final game against an opponant we've already beaten twice this year. We ranked 2nd due to goals against in the round and have a good shot at making the final tomorrow.

My kid is absolutely beside herself. She feels awesome that she was able to make more of a contribution than usual.

I'm thinking that I did well to shut my big mouth.

PC was a defenseman four years ago, before her current coach noticed her working like mad to win skating drills in which other girls were nonchalant. He converted her to a center, which I thought was amusing. She'd scored all of 1 goal on D in 3 years!

She responded by scoring 28 goals that year, in 33 games.

Trust the coach!

Four very tight teams remain in the hunt for this championship. Anything can happen. Tomorrow could be a turning point in our tough season. Who knows what could happen?

Poke Check and I are going to be purchasing a video of Game 1 tomorrow on DVD. I will be adding a quick clip of her goal soon as I have the opportunity and updating how the finals went.