A Wonderful Adventure Ends (for now) in Heartbreaking FashionBoy, this is going to be a tough one to write.
Trying out in Michigan for tier one hockey is hard. Trying out for tier one in Michigan when you live 2,000 miles away is much, much harder.
Still, though, Eli 14.8 had a tryout with a terrific team, top fifteen in the country.
The tryouts started with twelve goalies, and eventually, over several nights, whittled down to four. Eli was one of the four, and the team had one open spot (one had been decided previously).
Last night was the final skate, and Eli played brilliantly. Better than he had at TAC, which I didn't even think was possible. In a 90-minute session against all AAA skaters, he let in less than ten shots, including drills where guys were flying down, unopposed, to shoot on him.
It was sensational, and when he skated off last night, I really felt that he'd done it--come from nowhere and made a tier one team in a premier hockey state.
Which made it all the more crushing when the coach called at 11:30 last night and said he'd offered another goalie.
Eli was next, he said, the first goalie not to make it, and if either of the other kids faltered during spring, he would be next up.
I've never heard a kid bawl like poor Eli did in my whole life. Then he woke up this morning and started again.
I am in such terrible pain right now as a dad.
Ironically, the quality of Eli's technique actually worked against him. The coach said the kid they took was "more athletic" because he had been flying all over the place during tryouts.
That's true, but the reason he was flying all over the place was because he was often out of position, and he was trying to recover. Eli wasn't off balance once in five hours. Actually, he was once, when a kid deked him out. Otherwise, he was always on balance and on angle.
With exceptionally good technique--part of which is being athletic enough to always be in the right position/posture--you don't use your "sexy" athleticism as much.
Instead, you use it to be correct.
Flying around the crease is sexy, though, even if you're letting in way more goals, which is what happened last night.
Eli has a courtesy skate with another tier one team tonight, and I like the coach, but I don't think they have any open spots. It gives one more coach a chance to see him, at least.
Such a sad day for such a good kid.