After the Wild 19U Rep team’s tournament in Alaska, a friend said to me she was sorry the team didn’t do well. I realized in that moment how easy it is to see sports competitions from a win/lose perspective. While the Wild lost four of four games in Alaska, the stats paint a picture of a team that is doing a lot of things right.
First, let me tell you about the Anaheim Lady Ducks/Team Alaska game. That game’s result was 6-0 (Team AK). The Lady Ducks have 16 skaters. Team Alaska, 17. The girls on both teams presumably have an average age of 17 years old. Now consider the Wild/Team Alaska game. The score at final buzzer was 5-0. The Wild held Team Alaska to five goals. What’s impressive about that is the Wild has only 11 skaters, and an average age of 15 years old. The Wild didn’t allow any goals in the third period, a time when lagging teams can easily give up. The Wild’s net tender worked up a sweat, stopping 36 of 41 shots; Team AK 6/6.
The Wild’s short bench and young average age present a significant challenge in going up against older, fresh-legged teams. However, the Wild prove over and over that they are worthy opponents.
Going into second period versus the Pioneers, the Wild had two points, and the Pioneers also had two points. The Wild had more shots on goal (48) than the Pioneers (19), but the Wild had difficulty with accuracy. The Pioneers scored three more times in the second period, but the Wild managed to keep their 14 opponents to one point in the third period. The game finished at 6-2 (Pioneers).
The Alaska Allstars beat the Lady Ducks by 9 points. The Wild faced the Alaska Allstars one day later, and must have felt some trepidation going into the match. The first point on the board went to…the Wild. And that was deep into the second period. The Wild’s goalie got a robust workout with 70 shots on goal made on her. The Allstars’ goalie stopped 12 of 13 shots. The final score was 3-1, only a two-point difference.
The Lady Ducks/Wild game went into third period with the Wild down by one point. This game had a closer range of shots on net, with the Wild’s goalie stopping 37 of 40, and the Ducks’ net tender stopping 31 of 33. At 3:47 in the third period, it became anyone’s game, with a point going up for the Wild. Nearly a minute later, the Ducks got the puck in the net, bringing the game-ending score to 3-2 (Ducks).
So, the Wild lost their games by only 1 to 5 points. The Wild goalie made 154 saves, with a ratio of 91%. The Wild kept their penalty minutes to 50–24 minutes shorter than the team with the most minutes.
Can the Wild be proud of their performance at this tournament? Definitely. Can the Wild learn from this experience? Absolutely. They can evaluate where in a game the tide turns from a tied game or one where they’re ahead, to one where they fall behind. Much of it has to do with running out of steam against bigger bodies and larger numbers; however, the Wild can learn and employ strategies to sustain their energy and stamina in a game. They can keep their attitudes in check and maintain focus at all times. That alone can make or break a game.
Hockey is about numbers, and players can choose to focus on the final score, or they can review the stats, reflect on their performance as individuals and a team, and put their time and energy into strengthening their (physical and mental game) skills. It’s all in how you choose to look at it.
Bellingham freelancer Victoria Reeb travels to ice rinks far and wide to support her daughter’s love of playing hockey for Washington Wild. When the weather warms up, she can be found at the motocross track, cheering on her son and daughter. She writes about finding the positive in any situation, and gets lots of inspiration from her active family, three pet dogs and job at an elementary school.
- Photos courtesy of Hope Webster