I tried. I really did. I tried to be a pro. To be objective and fair and rational.
I tried to plant my feet in the sand and not get buffeted by the waves of the season. When I was only in up to my ankles, I could do it. Waves would only swish the sand around my toes, or send seaweed brushing up against my ankles.
But now, I'm in too deep. This Aeros team has sucked me in and the waves push me and pull me and rather than being frustrated at my inability to resist their force, I'm giving in. I'm on my knees, my hair is wet, I'm laughing and spitting out saltwater.
And it's fantastic. This is how I came to love hockey, and for the purposes of this blog, this is how I will write about hockey.
This 2-1 win tonight over the Griffins was a lot like playing in the ocean. Messy, scrape-your-knees, leave it all out there in the sun wonderfulness. The messy part coach Yeo didn't like so much, and I get that. Lots of breakaways and odd man rushes that Tordjman had to turn away (and if he hadn't, it could have been really ugly). But the good stuff -- the part where every man on the team is doing what it takes to win -- he is proud of and should be.
It takes an awful lot of buy-in from a pretty large group of individuals to get the kind of commitment he's gotten out of this team. He's doing something very right, as is the leadership of this team.
John asked Jon DiSalvatore after the game about this onset of what I would call "stick-to-it-tivness."
"It's a big push and Coach Yeo is stressing the importance of and what it means to be a winner. And the whole system and every learning experience we've had has been geared towards that and it was a huge commitment from the guys to make this big push at this point in the season. We knew that either we've got to make this big push right now or we're going to be the odd man out," DiSalvatore said. "So I think it's just a top to bottom team commitment that's really pushed it. It may seem real cliche but it's really what it's been all about."
Great stuff. The "big push" is a phrase that came out of Yeo, DiSal, and Noreau's mouths tonight so it's obviously been much-discussed in the inner circles of the team. It makes sense. This is often a time when teams that started hot burn out a little. The dog days of winter. Bodies and minds are weary from the grind of the first half.
But teams like the Aeros... late bloomers who have been hanging in there but seeing only middling results... if they can own these dog days and start filling up the win bucket while the other teams are catching their breath, boy can that go a long way in March and April, when the rest of the division is making their "big push."
It's been a long time since I had to watch an Aeros game with my hand clamped over my mouth to muffle the gasps and squeaks that don't belong on press row.
I really never paid much attention to Tordjman before, even though I saw him plenty. All I knew was he's Kate Moss-skinny and he played for those devils in San Antonio. Feh.
So, I have to admit, he was a revelation of hand-clamped-over-mouth proportions tonight. I haven't been so completely moved to gasps over a goalie since Brusty was here.
First of all, he handles the puck with this sort of terrifying nonchalance and clumsy confidence. I know those seem contradicting, but how else can you explain how he really never has great control of the puck on his stick but seems utterly unconcerned about it?
Something about that just thrills me to pieces. I fully admit that seems like crazy talk.
Also, the decisiveness with which he makes saves, even if they're huge rebounds into the middle of traffic, he just does it with such conviction, and then he stops the rebound shots with the same conviction, like, "I MEANT TO DO THAT! TA-DAAA!!!!" *cape swish*
I was utterly transfixed by his entire game. And by the end of the game, I was smitten. When he batted that puck out of the air in front of him OVER the back of his net with his stick, I didn't move, except to giggle, for 5 straight minutes. Who DOES that??? Josh Tordjman does that, bitches!
It just felt so good to be excited about an Aeros goalie without having to convince myself that, "Well, he's a GOOD goalie, so I SHOULD like him." Nope. In fact, I was fully prepared to be unimpressed.
But you win, Torch. You got me. You, too, Aeros. Surf's up...