Eli 11.5Eli 11.5 displayed all the qualities that mark him as an a high-potential goaltender last weekend. He was aggressive and disruptive, and his reflexes were crazy good.
In the first game he played, at 6 a.m. Saturday morning, his team had outshot the opposition 10-3 in the first period. In the next two periods, though, they were outshot 16-6, and their opponents never took a shot outside the dots, which is the first time I've ever seen a junior team so disciplined. They just refused to try low-percentage shots, and in the third period, they were completely in control of the game.
They weren't in control of Eli, though. The game was tied 2-2 for a long time, but he refused to let anything in, and late in the third, his team got a lucky deflection off a shot from a terrible angle, and they stole a win.
His other game in the tournament was just as strong. 28 saves in 30 shots, and both of the goals were deflections off his own teammates.
One thing his defense did do very well in this tournament was cut down on uncontested breakaways. Guys got loose, but usually someone was at least skating closely enough to make them feel some pressure (and reduce their possible shooting options). So Eli faced hard shots, but only faced a small number of uncontested breakaways.
Eli has played 8 games for his development team this year, and his goals against average (GAA) is 2.5. He had one tough game in a tournament where he gave up 5 goals (and I meant to write about that, but the process of pulling him back from the ledge was so emotionally exhausting that I just buried it), but every other game has been 3 goals or less. That's a very high level of consistency for an 11-year-old.
We had a ton of free time during this tournament, especially on Saturday, when his game was at 6 a.m. and he was done for the day by dawn, so we went to a new science museum (Perot Museum of Nature and Science) that recently opened up in Dallas. It's tremendous, and if you're in the Dallas area, I highly recommend it. A few pictures:
That's the entrance (you can see people walking at the very bottom).
Here's a view of the Dallas skyline from inside the museum:
What Eli enjoyed the most, by far, was the "sports performance" wing. He was able to perform a motion (many sports to choose from) and have it recorded, then play it back in super-slo-mo. Even better, he could compare his performance to that of a professional athlete.
Since Eli loves to kick (I've mentioned before that he's made a 29-yard field goal off a tee), he decided to try kicking a football. Now before you see this video, which is a comparison of his kicking motion with Dallas Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey, please note that Eli didn't see the video of Bailey before he kicked, because you don't see any videos until after you've been filmed. Here's the side-by-side (random museum chatter in background):
I'm sure he would have stayed and done this for the rest of the day, if there hadn't been a line.
On our way home yesterday, Eli took an extended nap. This last image is a cautionary tale about the dangers of car napping: