When is the end of the season not really the end of the season? When you are the host team of the Royal Bank Cup! The Streetsville Derbys took on the defending 2005 Dudley Hewitt Cup champions and the 2005 RBC representative, the Georgetown Raiders in round 1 of the OPJHL playoffs. The Derbys were a much improved team after Christmas. In their last 18 games the club won 11, tied 3 and lost only 4 while building a winning percentage of .694. The Derbys however lost the series to the Raiders 4-2.
It is difficult for outsiders to imagine the situation that the players and staff find themselves in during this RBC year. In a normal season, part of a team’s motivation comes from the fear of having the year come to an end. It is the same type of situation that teams deal with if they are fighting for a playoff spot. In the case of the Derbys, we had focused so long on chasing the RBC dream in May that it was difficult to “fool” ourselves into thinking that we would hang up our skates if we lost to Georgetown. None the less, the Derbys do not use this lack of success as an excuse or as a means to garner sympathy. Quite the opposite! It turns out that series loss hurt our club as much as if it had actually ended our season. We were embarrassed by the result because of having to explain why we were the RBC host and yet found ourselves out of the playoffs so early. As a result we are passionate about our SECOND CHANCE. We are the only Jr. A team in Canada to get this second chance and we are working exceptionally hard as a group to make the best of it.
The team has been off of the ice completely since Feb. 21/06. Our strength and conditioning coach has been working with the players on a program that will increase our overall fitness. The team will be back on the ice soon. We are driven by the desire to represent our league and our organization with pride and class. We are feeling the pressure of being the host team. Most of the comments that we receive suggest how “easy” it is for our team because we have been “handed” the right to play for the Canadian Championship. The opportunity is certainly something that we value. It is not “easy” but achieving anything worthwhile never is! We are now able to live the dream of every Jr. A. Hockey player in Canada. Our second chance is our big break!
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