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The Cornered Coach - Staying Alive


"We're not dead yet!"

That was the brilliant catchphrase one of my assistant coaches came up with in the aftermath of our big upset victory over the first place Blues. Going into last week's sudden-death game, the fourth place Avalanche were the big underdogs in the semifinal showdown of our Toronto Atom house league playoffs. Especially since our most dangerous goal-scoring threat spent game day lying on a warm, sunny Spanish beach—the price to pay when you schedule a big playoff game during March Break. Upon learning of our top sniper's impending absence, one of his Avalanche teammates spouted a line that the little guy will never be allowed to forget.

"We're dead!"

But, lo and behold, the troops rallied (shocking, admittedly, even their head coach) and they played their best game of the season, beating the powerful Blues 3-2. So, now it's on to the championship game against the Hurricanes—another tough team (second place in the standings) who will be difficult to knock off.  

The good news?

Our top scorer will be back in the line-up, tanned and refreshed from enjoying the pleasures of Spain.

The bad news?

One of our best defencemen is an "unhealthy scratch.” It seems that messing around on your scooter isn't the best training method to get ready for a championship hockey game. Down went the scooter, and down went our solid d-man with a busted knee. So, once again, the Mighty Av's will have to defy the odds to hoist the championship trophy.

But while we'd love to win the big game, News Flash: the other team wants to win, too. No matter what happens on Saturday, there's going to be one team posing for a victory photo while the other team wipes away a few tears of disappointment. My son, Max, for instance (another member of the Avalanche blue line brigade) is set to play in the fourth title game of his minor sports “career." He's come out on the short end of the stick the first three times and we've already kidded him that if he loses his fourth straight championship tilt, we'll have to start calling him "Buffalo Bill.” The National Football League Buffalo Bills, you see, are famous for losing four straight Super Bowl contests in the early-90's.

But hey!

It takes a great team to actually get to four championship games and, even though they would've loved to win at least once, the Bills are bonded together forever thanks to a bittersweet mixture of success and failure.

Life is a lot like that. Tremendous highs, followed by gut-wrenching lows.

Come Saturday, the Avalanche might be celebrating our success or we could be patting each other on the back following a heart breaking loss.

Nothing, after all, comes easy on the ice or in life. But no matter what we're facing—a difficult hockey opponent, a challenging employment situation, or a frightening health issue—the new slogan of the Avalanche actually makes a whole lot of sense.

"We're not dead yet!”

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