Yesterday was the first day of games since the return from well deserved vacations of the LFA CEO Jean-François DesBois. It has been an evening where several new substitutes played for the first time; close to ten players have put the LFA's jerseys on and tried to impress their teammates and the direction, hoping to become regular players.
We've seen a few surprises, some players being more skilled than expected and others having some adjustments to do to their play to be able to follow the LFA's rythm, who offers a competitive yet friendly game. Once again, yesterday's games showed the importance of the players dedication to their team, in terms of preparation to the game. A couple of players are taking their league very seriously and are at the arena sometimes more than an hour before their own game, to prepare themself physically and mentally, or simply to watch the other matches. Those who arrives only a couple of minutes before their game often have a slow start and are at their best only in the second half. It is no wonder why a universal unwritten law says that you arrive at least 30 minutes before your game, no matter the sport! The match starts in the room and finish in the room. Furthermore, a global tendency in the league shows that the teams who obtain success are the teams who set up and respect a game plan. The LFA is not a traditional beer league where you can win without team structure or implication from the players. The LFA is a competitive adult hockey league.
All that being said, some modifications to the selection and trade sessions will have to occur for the next seasons, and a couple of players will have to do introspection if they want to keep their place in the league. After close to the two thirds of the season played, several players are still unknown to the majority because they are too often absent. They make the evaluation of the players and the teams a lot harder than it should be, and substitutes are not always the same level as the player they replace. Those difficulties and analysis errors from people with different hockey knowledge will have resulted in the Vipers being clearly disadvantaged on a global perspective. Nonetheless, we must congratulate the hard work and perseverance from their players who show up every game. Yesterday, it was a team filled with substitutes that played against the Czechers. Thinking that almost all the Vipers subs played for the first time and where unknown from everybody, the match could have been black or white. In that case, it has been gray, the Vipers taking an early 3-1 lead in the first period, but lost it afterward only to score a couple of quick goals in the second half of the game to make the game closer. Thinking that their goaltender allowed 2-3 unlucky goals (he played is first game this season), it is realist to think that the game's result could have been a lot different.
The other matches where played under the sign of speed and opportunism, the Tomahawks winning the game in the last 5 minutes of the third period, where the Avengers missed a couple of scoring chances. The Shamrocks once again counted on a rock solid goaltender and a strong defensive unit to limit the scoring chances of the Loggers, who were playing without their scoring Ace Patrice Vichier. The men in green capitalized on errors by the Loggers caused by the Shamrocks relentless pressure and scored quick unanswered goals to cut the Men in Black's momentum.
Something that never changes are the after games at our sponsors, who are always really fun for those who show up. Animated discussions, beer, good food and brotherly atmosphere can be found every time. Yesterday, it was at Brasserie Saint-Denis that more than 10 players gathered to enjoy a nice evening, followed by a visit to Bily Kun bar, the Czechers sponsor. On the picture, you can see the Czechers defense Maxime Florant with his girlfriend, the marvelous Avengers Donald Turcotte and his turtleneck, the flamboyant Éric Champagne and the distinguished Arnaud Guertin, both players of the Loggers. Also there were Patrick Blais from the Tomahawks, an after game regular, the Czechers Simon David and Jacob Poliquin, the LFA's vice-president and Shamrocks hulk Laurent ''Larry'' Quesnel, as well as the league's CEO Jean-François DesBois.
It is in my personal name and in those of everyone who were there that I invite you to assist to the fourth act next Saturday. It is a unique way to get to know players from other teams, to make peace with someone after a conflict on the ice or simply to live one of those rare time where fun and brotherhood take over normal life obligations and hockey rivalries.