The early anticipation for the New Year was palpable. Expectations were supreme! Not only could you taste it, you could feel it, hear players talking about it; and the smell of victory in the air… until the first game, bordered on a point of absolute certainty – until the first game.
Some people refer to “the Hockey Gods,” as if they were a definitive part of every game, something “real,” stating: “The Hockey Gods were smiling down upon us tonight!” Or, “The Hockey Gods were not with us tonight.” Whether you believe in hockey deities or not, something very strange visited upon the 2001 Toronto Marlboros, in the very first GTHL game of 2014.
They lost 3-0.
How does a team, that absolutely dominates a game, lose 3-0? The answer doesn’t really matter. What matters is: this was a wake-up call! Any thought that the Marlboros would “steamroll” over, past, and through the competition, on any given night, was quickly eviscerated! Reality had set in. The opponents would not only bring their “A” game, it was obvious that they had done their homework, prepared to the best of their abilities, and were prepared to execute on their game plan, to beat the Marlboros!
Complacency is not a part of the Toronto Marlboro lexicon. Nowhere in their vocabulary will you ever find reference to “resting on their laurels!” No! Absolutely not! Due to the sheer volume of games, tournaments, and especially high tempo practices, the Toronto Marlboros collectively heard the wakeup call that was received in their first game of January 2014, and with the effect of a double shot of espresso coffee, on a well-rested, highly conditioned elite athlete, the team “rose in unity” to the challenge!
Quite simply put: The Toronto Marlboros won every GTHL game, throughout the month of January, and some of those victories saw the team achieving shutouts and ringing up as many as 10 goals in one game! No, “complacency” would not visit this team! Inspiration combined with perspiration and expectation, blended flawlessly to set the stage for the first round of playoffs, which would begin in February.
To say “the Toronto Marlboros were on fire, would be kind of like saying “gee there sure was a lot of snow this winter!” Put the snow plows away, the steamroller is primed and ready! Humor aside, this team was hot and the great expectations of a powerful first round showing for the playoffs, was obvious!