It’s fair to say that not much about the Army/Navy weekend of December 10th and 11th turned out exactly the way any of us would have preferred. When considering the West Point Club Hockey team, it wasn’t as if they weren’t ready to play, or that they were somehow overlooking their opponent. Not a chance. As cliché as it may sound, try as they might, sometimes the puck just doesn’t bounce your way. At least not in the first 10 minutes or so. Such was the case on the evening of December 10th, in East Rutherford, NJ, on the ice, steps away from a place where you can buy huge slabs of 50 different flavors of fudge, in one of the largest shopping malls known to man.
Losing is not fun. Losing to your biggest rival cuts even deeper. Even so, there were a number of extremely positive things that came out of this contest. Consider these 3 for instance:
We could have given up. We didn’t.
Six goals in the first 10-minutes is blitzkrieg on ice. Shock & awe. Too much, too fast. Yet, the team was able to regroup and recommit and from that moment on outscored, outhit, and outplayed Navy for the rest of the game.
We could have gotten intimidated. We didn’t.
Maybe we didn’t have the ability to compete with a D-1 team? Maybe we didn’t belong after all? These type of questions are part of a path previous club teams have walked all too often—and facing a 6-goal deficit ten minutes into the game it was a route the cadets easily could have taken–but didn’t. Ironically, down 6, it was Army that began intimidating Navy.
We could have hung our heads. We didn’t.
Watching Navy celebrate a goal ain’t easy. Seeing them do it 6 times in a row, in an average of less than 90 seconds apart, is flat-out disheartening, discouraging, and depressing. But instead of looking at the ground, the cadets took another approach. They got angry.
Perhaps the best way to look at it, is that we actually played 2 games. The first one was a 10-minute quickie, which we lost 6-0. The second game was a 50-minute affair that we won, convincingly, 3-1. In fact, Navy only managed 2 shots on goal for the entirety of the 2nd and 3rd periods. Had anyone watching not known the score they would have sworn Army was winning.
Short of the victory, what can the team learn from their experience? First, that they can take a punch and handle any adversity that comes with it. Second, that they don’t back down; they play all 60 minutes. And third, they can play with almost anyone, including a D-1 team and beat them.
Yes, a different outcome (both on the ice and the football field) would’ve been nice, but if we were some how destined to lose, the effort this team put out was might impressive. Make no mistake, their day is coming and it’s sooner than you might think.