As the last few remaining leaves fell from the trees, signaling an end of fall, the new beginning of another season brought with it the promise that temperatures would drop and Marlboros games would really begin to heat up… and so they did!
The team motto is “United in our Relentless Pursuit of Excellence!’ These are not hollow words, designed to inspire some form of ethereal concept of what it was that a team could potentially aspire to. These are the words that form the foundational ideal of how this year will unfold and exactly how it is that this team will function: Player to player; practice to practice; game to game; period to period; shift to shift; shot to shot; and breath to breath!
During the month of November, the Relentless Pursuit of Excellence included 7 regular season games plus 5 tournament games; each one better than the last, and 12 all-out, gut wrenching practices. The pressure is on! Everyone on the team knows it, and when you distill each moment down to its core essence, sayings that all elite athletes have heard at one time or another are no longer just platitudes, they have become the “law of the bench” and the “pathway to more ice time!”
Sayings like: “Ice time is earned on this team and not just given;” “Players that can execute team systems will earn the right to play on power play and penalty kills;” “You’re only as good as your last shift, so make every shift count;” actually contains great meaning to each player on this 2001 Toronto Marlboros team.
Why? Coach Gialedakis has raised the bar to new heights, and commensurate with raising the bar, he is really coming through for those players that have proven they earned the right to be on the ice for special teams and extra opportunities. This level of competitive pressure, within the team, is where character and talent are forged in the heat of battle and the tenacious pursuit of being the best hockey players they can be, while striving to always be there for each other, in the United Pursuit of Excellence!
Here is how the 2001 Toronto Marlboros month of November progressed after the completion of a very successful team trip to Chicago:
November 8, Marlboros 11 vs. Don Mills Flyers 0. This game had it all! High scoring, excellent execution of all the fundamentals, a well earned shut out, and a very dedicated focus on sticking to the game plan, for the entire contest.
November 13, Marlboros 7 vs. Mississauga Reps 1. This game was actually quite a bit more challenging then the score sheet might suggest. The Reps brought their “A” game, and everyone in the arena was treated to excellent hockey at both ends of the ice!
November 15, Marlboros 4 vs. Mississauga Senators 1. Once again, the final tally was in no way indicative of what happened on the ice. Great zone to zone execution, coupled with very crisp passing, by the Marlboros, was met with some very hot goal tending. This was not an easy victory, but a well earned 2 points!
November 17, Marlboros 5 vs. Vaughn Kings 0. From the bench to every player on the Marlboros, this was a very satisfying victory, primarily due to the fact the “D,” forwards, and obviously the goalie, worked seamlessly to cause several neutral zone turnovers, and that created a lot of 2 on 1 and 3 on 1 plays.
November 18, Marlboros 1 vs. Toronto Young Nationals 1. This game was completely one-sided. The Marlboros clearly out-chanced and out shot their opponents on this occasion! Their goalie was clearly on his game that night.
November 24, Marlboros 1 vs. Toronto Jr. Canadiens 4. Another good effort by the Marlboros was met with by a very determined opposition and their goaltender. Quite simply put: “Although the team carried the play for the majority of the game, the Marlboros ran into another hot goalie!
November 29, Marlboros 0 vs. Mississauga Rebels 3. Here was a perfect example of the score sheet obliterating the truth! What was the truth? The Marlboros carried the play throughout every period of hockey! So what happened? On this particular night, credit must be given to a hot goaltender that really came through against the Marlboros, for his team!
As one person was overheard to say: “If the police where anywhere near the ice, they would have arrested the entire opposing team, and especially their goalie, for stealing a game, right out of the Marlboro jaws of victory!”
Despite the score, Coach Gialedakis’ heart was bursting with pride, and in the dressing room, after the game, he let the team know just how pleased he was with their efforts, despite the final tally.
Throughout the month of November, Coach Gialedakis was extremely proud of the way the team came together! The forecast for December: “Colder temperatures outside, and significantly hotter play inside,” by the Toronto Marlboros, in their Relentless Pursuit of Excellence!