Monday, January 09, 2017

The Goalie

It's pretty chaotic here.

There was a Tier One Elite Showcase at Eli 15.5s home rink last weekend. It was the last one of the season before the playoffs.

Eli's team went 3-1, and he was 2-0 in his games, winning 5-2 and 3-1. The 3-1 game was against the #11 team in the country.

They scored on their first shot against him, in the first 30 seconds of the game.

That was it. He was dialed in the entire game, his team dominated (but couldn't score), and it was 2-1 until they added an empty netter with 9 seconds remaining.

It was an incredibly fast, intense game. I was exhausted when it was over, just from watching.

Eli's team finished fourth in the league, out of 23 teams. This is the strongest tier one league in the country, and the teams they finished behind are #3, #4 and #13 nationally. Eli's team is #19, but they finished ahead of 4 teams that are currently ranked higher.

It was a very, very good showing, and I think it's the highest finish in the league for any team from Eli's organization.

He went 7-1 in 8 games and finished tied for 2nd in winning percentage (behind the goalie for the team that won the league). GAA 1.98.

The thing about Tier One, though, is that it never lets up.

This week, league playoffs. Next week, a game in Detroit. Then a huge tournament in Detroit, followed by a trip to Pittsburgh for games against 3 teams in the top 15 nationally.

Eli described this pretty well. I said something about how the game Sunday was going to be a big game, and he quietly said, "Every game is a big game. Same preparation. Same focus."

He's right of course. I said, "Hey, a teachable moment for me," and he laughed.

The difference in good players and great players is that great players are intense for everything. They practice at that level. They play every second of every game at that level. In an important way, the opponent isn't the other team.

The opponent is them.

This is an impossible thing to grasp, for almost everyone, but Eli understands it very well now.  Even if you're doing all the right things physically, and he does, he still has to go to a place mentally that very few people ever reach.

Most people aren't even willing to go there.

He is, and I think he's staying.

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