We were pretty good last weekend. It was great to get a win under our belt leading into the 2010 North American Hockey League Showcase Tournament, which will be held at Schwans Super Rink in Blaine, Minn. The Kenai River Brown Bears won their first game Wednesday 4-1 over Springfield. The Brown Bears take on Texas today at 2 p.m. Alaska Daylight Time.
* On Sept. 10, we came out very nervous. We were up against an older team and a team that we had very little success against in previous seasons. Just last season, we lost three straight to the Alaska Avalanche leading into the showcase by a combined score of 17-5.
Last weekend, our boys proved that last season has nothing to do with what lies ahead. We have a group of boys that want to be here. We have a group that is playing for each other and learning to put the team first. I do not know what will come of it on the scoreboard, but I think we all are enjoying the process.
* On Sept. 11, we pushed the pace from the drop of the puck. I was completely taken aback at the way our boys came out that night.
Our bus actually broke down right as we made it up the mountain to Independence Gold Mine. Originally, we decided to take the team up after breakfast that morning to get some air and stretch out a bit. We ended up spending more than five hours exploring, taking pictures, panning for gold (a few boys actually found some), and napping in our broken down bus. I have to say, not one player complained or spoke a word of negativity all day. I saw a lot of smiles and athletes preparing, despite the setbacks, for our big game later in the evening. Looking back, I was worried about being in the sun and not resting and keeping the schedule as planned, but we didn't make excuses. What a day it was.
* The Showcase: Each team will play four games against teams out of their division. We will face a tough and storied Texas Tornado franchise, a relocated and newly staffed Michigan Warrior team (previously the Marquette Rangers), a relocated Coulee Region team (previously the North Iowa Outlaws), and a very respectable Springfield Blues team. Needless to say, we will find very worthy competition in each of the four squads.
Our boys are prepared. I am certain of that. We are ready to compete. How we respond to success and failure during the event will tell me what type of group we have. The boys and I are looking forward to the challenge the showcase inherently presents.
Oliver David is the head coach of the Kenai River Brown Bears.
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