Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Go.... Tigers

NCAA Men's Ice Hockey has the culminating event starting tomorrow with the CC Tigers vs. DU Pioneers at noon Mountain time. As a Colorado resident I have been lucky to see a few Stanley cups, and of course last year's Final Four champions - in both cases Denver managed to be an underdog against bigger markets. This year however I'm hoping for a win by a real underdog team, the CC Tigers. These students attend a small school (so small the other Division I teams tried to have them excluded) in a small town, and yet they play big hockey.

<soapbox> Not to get off on a rant (hattip Dennis Miller) here but I see lots of players at all ages and skill levels use brute force as a crutch when their skill is lacking - not as a tool to supplement the game. Nothing is worse than watching a game devolve into a demonstration of the physics of inelastic colisions. The bigger body mass usually wins merely by hammering the smaller body. In rare cases I see small teams out hustle, out skate, and out score an opponent with grit. The CC Tigers are such a team, they can hit but when their game is flowing its part of the play instead of a demonstration of hammers and anvils.</soapbox>

I am always impressed with coaches, especially when their team is losing, who coach the skill game and push their players to hit only when necessary - and I'm always a bit resentful of coaches who yell out "play the body" - "hit him" - "finish your checks" - because I can predict about 75% of the time I'll hear that same coach complain when I issue a boarding, cross-checking or check from behind to the player that listened to the advice and forgot to play the puck.

Here's hoping this weekend's Frozen Four is an example of skilled athletes competing at the highest level with the spirit of sport in their blood, not their blood on the ice. And whoever wins - keep your sticks on the ice eh!

T...I...G...E...R...S Tiger Tigers Tigers


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