Jr. Everblades 14U A head coach Rob Girard recaps the team's experience at the SAHOF State Championship below:
The 14U A Jr. Everblades played at the SAHOF State Championships this past weekend in Ellenton Florida making it to the the semi finals with a 2-1 record.
The team got off to a tough start in game one playing the 1st place Toros. We dominated the first period, and into the second period but couldn't score, the game stayed 0-0 for the first half of the game. The Toros broke the ice and scored on a power play to open the scoring. The game ended in a 5-0 loss which was tough as it was not indicative of how close the game actually was.
In Game 2, we knew we needed to win to have a chance. We played the second place Gulf Coast Flames Red. We won the game 7-5 despite being out shot 35-17. We made a statement and had something to build on.
Game 3 was even tougher for us as we were playing the Scorpions who had beat us 6-0 in the MLK Tourney in Orlando. One of our players asked if they could address the team prior to the game. It was a moment that I will never forget as a coach, it was unbelievable. This clearly rallied the team. We won 4-2 in a come from behind effort. It appeared that we had made the Semi Finals, but it was not so. There was a three way tie for wins. We watched the Toros play the Gulf Coast Flames, and fortunately for us the Toros came back and won which put us in the semis. Nothing came easy for our team.
Game 4 was the Semi Finals and we faced The Breakers, a team we had tied, and lost too, but had never beaten. We got down 2-0 early, but fought back to tie the game up 2-2 going into the third, with the shot 20-20. It was tight. With five minutes left in the third the Breakers went ahead 3-2, and despite our great scoring chances, posts etc. we were unable to tie it.
The team and players really came a long way, most of the team had been skating together since June. This was a real team in every sense of the word. The locker room was tight and the players all got along well. This was a terrific group of young men and the parents should be very proud of them as myself and the other Coaches are. We did a lot of great things together this season, and more importantly they all became much better hockey players as a result, mentally, and physically.
What I liked most about this team and season was this; Nothing came easy for us, the players had to work hard and dig in and chip away all season long. Before Christmas it did not look like we could even make SAHOF, but the players remained committed and really worked extra hard despite injuries to key players to achieve our goal to make it to SAHOF. Against what appeared to be insurmountable odds they pulled it off. It was amazing to witness.
I am proud to be part of what seems to have been a great season for JEB overall with five out of the six teams making SAHOF, all five making the semis, 4 teams making the final round and two winning state. This has to be great for the organization as a whole.
I would like to thank the Assistant Coaches Tom Zebley, and Devon Rodriguez who without their help and commitment, we could not have had the season we did. Also Tony Lessel for giving me the opportunity to coach at JEB after moving here from Dallas, TX. Tom, Devon, and myself couldn't be more proud of these players.
Please continue to visit JrEverblades.org for more information on the 14U A program and the entire organization.