Last Saturday we had four games with different flavors, reflections of the different human realities in the league. The first game, between the Vipers and the Czechers, ended with a convincing victory of theyellow team, a second only in regulation this season. Surprisingly, the Czechers do not seem to have been in the game for so long, according to testimonies I have been able to gather. Still, they have shown great things in the last few games. Despite their difficult season, Ludovic Helias' men finally found a winning recipe, and especially maintained it throughout the game. The faces were probably much more smiling in the room after the game, compared to the last few weeks!

for a couple of seasons now, a game between the Rhinos (known before as the Tomahawks) and the Avengers is synonymas with intensity and excitement.. (Archive photo by frederic serre takin from last year's winter classic)

The second game pitted two league powers, the Avengers and the Rhinos. We expected a close game, but the Avengers took the measure of the men in red from Éric Champagne. Is it a question of substitutes or exchanges? A bad work ethic? The mystery remains as complete as the surprise of the game's result.

The third clash was a reflection of the past weeks and of the efforts of the administration, with its many shootout sessions. The Meteores and Loggers have played an intense match with many twists and turns, which was completed by the victory of the men in black and the first of their goalkeeper in the shootouts! A game that reflects what the league is trying to achieve and has kept players and spectators on the edge of their seats!

The fourth part of the evening, between the Shamrocks and the Kamikazes, is a reflection of the less glorious side of adult hockey in general. Even before the beginning of the game, seeing the forces lined up on either side, I predicted my teammates a one-way win for our team. Each team had several substitutes in its ranks, including an elite goalie for the Kamikazes in the person of Patrick Bouchard, who at the same time tested his knees after several months of absence. With several last minute cancellations (one just over an hour before the game), our president had to make decisions that unfortunately were not happy for all. Wanting to offer a little more power to the Kamikazes with the elite goalie and a high-caliber defenseman, he thought it best not to weaken too much the men in green in fear of an uneven game.

Unfortunately, with the last-minute cancellations and an underestimation of the Shamrocks' tenacity, it was the reverse situation and the leaders in the standings were overloaded with speed and talent thanks among other things to the substitutes Alex Lamarre and Cyril Boucard. It was obvious to both sides that a major problem of balance was there, which did not immediately appear with the fiery play of the Kamikazes in the first half of the first period, but the reality quickly caught up with Sébastien Mainville's team . It is my personal opinion that the best team should automatically have a handicap, especially when the first team in the ranking faces the last one or so. In the same line of thought, two similar teams, such as mid-ranks, should be adjusted more evenly. A victory for a team with few, even with more talented substitutes, can change the momentum in the room and help rebuild the confidence so important in hockey. The feeling of being cheated by the choice of substitutes, even if this is only one of the possible reasons for a defeat, can on the contrary demotivate some players and harm the team spirit.

Several explanations can be given to explain these situations, such as absenteeism, but I think that the last minute cancellations from regular players or those who were to replace them are generally much more damaging for team balancing. Often, our president finds himself having to make last-minute decisions with very few alternatives before him. Considering the players available and too willing to do well, sometimes some decisions prove to be the worst, as in many situations of everyday life. All of this comes down to the difficulty for a single human being to manage close to a hundred people with their personalities and egos, family impediments, and more then often justified reasons for missing a game at the last minute.

The 2015-2016 Shamrocks have shown that a team with good work ethic and constant efforts can win over more talented opponants. (Photo Miguel Legault)

To conclude, I consider that Saturday's results show in general that the teams that obtain victory more regularly are those that demonstrate the best work ethic and the best team spirit. We have seen it in the past time and time again. Of course, talent is important. But a smart passing game and a 5 players effort can often overcome the skillful game of one or two top players in individual talent. We saw beautiful and exciting play yesterday, as well as the contrary. It's what makes hockey so exciting and so intense, every little detail making a difference!

I am confident that the rest of the season will go well and that the experiences gained will help to prevent embarrassing situations. Perfection does not exists, but at least the LFA is constantly trying to achieve it!

With those reflections, see you soon!

Jacob Poliquin