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Just Off-Camera

"They respect you if you write. The dumber the world gets, the more the words matter." -Dan Jenkins


Saturday, January 07, 2006

Trouble, Indeed

In retrospect, the best part of the Trouble in the Bubble was talking smack leading up to the big event. I knew going into it that winning would be tough; since I usually win only one out of every three or four games I play against Ben, I would need to channel Herb Brooks to pull out a best-of-seven series win.

We weighed in and got ready for the event around 2:30 on Saturday. The tale of the tape had me at 5-10, 160 pounds, and my brother checked in at 5-’8”, 162. Of course, this has no bearing whatsoever on the games. Using no good analysis, we also decided that I was probably a 5-1 underdog.

Here's how the games unfolded:

Game 1 - Ben 4, Alex 3 (Shots: Ben 6, Alex 6)
I scored off the opening draw and went up 3-0 midway through the 2nd, but then Ben'’s left wing scored three to get him back in it. The game went to overtime tied 3-3, where, as I was overcompensating toward the left wing's shot with my right defenseman, he one-timed it to the center to win. I had been riding high up 3-0 halfway into the game, and perhaps if I could have held on to that lead and taken Game 1, the series might have developed much differently. But that wasn't to be.

Game 2 - Ben 4, Alex 1 (Shots: Ben 6, Alex 5)
I let in an own goal in the 1st, but I tied it up at 1 with a shot from the right defenseman. Ben'’s left wing scored again to put him up 2-1, and then he scored with the center. About two-thirds of the way through the third, Ben'’s left defenseman came loose (as it sometimes does), and I lost valuable time for a comeback as we put the d-man back. Ben scored an OT goal to make the final score 4-1. I probably wouldn't have won even without the delay for fixing the defenseman, since I would have needed two goals to win even if I could have scored one to get back into the game.

Game 3 - Ben 2, Alex 0 (Shots: Ben 5, Alex 0)
This one was just about a must-win for me, since I was pretty sure winning four in a row against Ben wasn't going to happen. I was able to hold him to only one goal, from his defenseman, throughout the game, but I couldn'’t seem get any offense going at all. Ben's center sealed it with an OT goal, and I was now just trying to avoid a sweep.

Game 4 - Alex 4, Ben 3 (Shots: Alex 15, Ben 6)
Ben took an early lead and, frustrated, I had a feeling the wheels would come off altogether and I'd get blown out in this game. However, I was able to get a goal, and then, despite another third period mishap with a player coming loose, I scored a buzzer-beater to stay alive and enter the overtime down 3-2. I tied it with a shot from the left wing, and then I had a potential game-winning shot go in and out of the net. This was followed by a shot from Ben that also hit the back of the net and came out. Despite the lopsided shot count, Ben controlled the play for most of the OT. Finally, I scored the winning goal when Ben took a shot from the left wing that I saved. The puck ricocheted off my goalie and into the net at the other end of the ice, and I staved off elimination for at least one more game.

Game 5 - Ben 4, Alex 1 (Shots: Ben 8, Alex 3)
I scored early in the first to take a 1-0 lead, but Ben reeled off three straight goals to put the game out of reach entering the overtime period. Fittingly, one of my shots bounced out of the net, and Ben scored thereafter to make the final margin of victory 4-1 -– the same as the score of the series.

The series pretty much went how I might have expected it to: close games, and mostly wins for Ben. If I could have held on to the leads I had in games 1 and 5, I would have led 3-2 heading for Game 6. But Ben did a lot of damage with his left wing and center, as he always does, and I hurt myself with a couple of own goals during the series. Anyway, there you have it: I lost, and here are the results.

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