By Lonny Lovins
The longest day of the tournament started bright and early for us, and if I thought yesterday was moving, today is flying.
The games today have tightened up a bit, as there are a lot fewer lopsided affairs. Most of the teams who had rough games yesterday, have refined their play and come in today refocused. This is a good thing to see especially when you have a lot of caring parents who want to make sure their kids are playing in the right place.
I have gotten to see quite a few of the teams play, and again I am impressed with the level of play at the Club and Silver level. I have seen a bit of the Gold play as well (it is just getting underway), and there is a noticeable jump in skill from Silver. While this should be expected, it makes me see that overall in the sport, the skill level is increasing. As hockey becomes more mainstream, we are seeing kids develop at even younger ages. Coaching is getting better, and everyone is becoming more educated. As a true fan of the sport, and someone who loves every aspect of the game, this is something that truly makes me happy.
Our first skills competition is coming up in couple of hours, and I always look forward to seeing the little guys and gals do skills. We kick things off with the Atoms, and while they may not have perfected their “Michigan” moves, or the perfect stride, they always seem to have the most fun, and the smiles never leave their faces. Although I must admit, I feel a little bad for the keepers trying to reach those far posts to make saves…sometimes they just run out of appendages.
You can check out the Atom’s skills, as well as all of the other skills and finals games on our live stream. http://new.livestream.com/accounts/4598756/events/2226335. They have been dialing everything in over the last day, and when the final games start rolling around, it should be really exciting to watch. Last night when I got a chance to check out the production room, and then watch the game on the score board big screen, it was pretty exciting. It felt like I was back home at the Tank, watching an NHL game. While the hockey level may be a little different, the production value is pretty quality. More importantly, how many of the players here are going to get the opportunity to play in a setting like this, on the big screen, or really feel like a pro for a day? Maybe a few at the higher levels, but for everyone else this is a once in a lifetime experience. I wish they would have had it when I was playing as a kid. I know I would look back on videos like these with fond memories…and it would surely make me want to work my tail off to get to that championship game for the chance to be on that screen. Heck, I might dust off my skates and try to latch on with someone just to get on television.
In all seriousness, I think it is a great idea, and I am glad to be a part of it. As we head through midday here, the hockey is getting more competitive, and the atmosphere more electric. I look forward to seeing you all at the rink, and on the rink.