Every hockey game tells a story. It starts long before the puck drops, long before the gates open, and long before the players arrive at the arena. Every hockey game tells a story, especially in the Ontario Hockey League
, where amateur players compete to develop their on-ice skills and take the next step towards achieving their dream of playing in the NHL. BlueJackets.com traveled to Erie, PA last weekend to take in an OHL game between the Erie Otters
and the Oshawa Generals
. These are just a few of the moments that stood out from that experience.
The building was already buzzing with anticipation two hours before the puck dropped. Members of the Erie Otters staff moved around the arena, making all of the necessary preparations for the evening’s match up against the Oshawa Generals, the top team in the East Division and 2nd overall in the Eastern Conference. It was an organized frenzy, but another kind of excitement existed beneath the game day checklist – an excitement that can only be credited to a hockey game.
While anything can happen in a game, hockey is rooted in routine. For the players on the Oshawa Generals, part of that routine is making sure they are ready to go when the referee blows the whistle for the opening face-off. Passing a soccer ball around helps them to loosen up their muscles while working as a team towards a common goal: keep the ball from hitting the ground.
No matter how the scoreboard reads at the end of a game, there are more important things than a hockey game. The players for the Erie Otters and Oshawa Generals demonstrated this on Saturday when they came together before the game to hoist the American flag and honor Veterans and members of the armed forces.
The opening face-off is a moment of both elation and suspense. The anticipation reaches a breaking point as the players line up at center ice. It seems as if the entire arena releases a collective breath after the puck hits the ice and the game officially starts. Finally.Oscar Dansk
started in net for the Erie Otters. He would go on to make 49 saves in the game and shut down an Oshawa offense that has been dominant this season. The final score of the game was… why spoil the surprise?
On the back of the Generals warm up shirts is the slogan, “Be all in.” It doesn’t just mean give your best when called upon. It means take every necessary preparation to succeed. No player does this better than Blue Jackets prospect Boone Jenner
, captain of the Oshawa Generals. From warm-ups to the buzzer, Jenner goes all in, all of the time, which is why he is the second leading scorer in the OHL with 17 goals, 15 assists, and 32 points in 20 games.
Imagine you’re 15 years old and competing against older, more experienced players. Some of them have already been drafted to play in the NHL; some may have already signed entry-level contracts with an NHL team. Now, imagine that you’re one of the BEST players on the ice every game. Yeah, we can’t either, but Connor McDavid
can. He leads all rookies in the OHL in points with 10 goals, 14 assists, and 24 points. He ranks 17th overall in points in the OHL.
The excitement that hockey brings isn’t just confined to the goals that are scored. Every race to the puck, every play along the boards can lead to something great. These players know it – just look at the intensity on their faces.
Every great moment has a beginning. Sometimes, the beginning happens while the clock is stopped. Great moments can start by winning a face-off, which is why Jenner and Jake Evans from the Otters are fixated on the puck in the referee’s hand. They know that in order to win the game, they have to win the small battles.
While the players are smooth skaters, hockey is not always graceful. Oshawa fell behind in the second period 3-1, and despite peppering Dansk with shots and parking as many bodies in front of the net, the Otters held them off.
The final score was not pretty for Boone Jenner and the Oshawa Generals. They lost 6-1 after Erie scored an empty net goal to make it 5-1, and then just to prove they deserved to win, Otters centerman Luke Cairns capped off the scoring with another goal in the final seconds of the game.
The players on the Erie Otters surrounded their goalie in a post-game celebration huddle. It’s one of the best sights in hockey.
After the game, BlueJackets.com talked to Boone Jenner about the game and his success with the Generals.
“If your team can play the right way whether you’re winning or losing, it’s going to be a big part of your success,” Boone said.
“You have to keep on it and stay committed; that’s what any coach wants and that’s what we’re trying to do. We’ve been going well so far.”
A hockey game starts long before the puck drops. Every game tells a story, and all stories come to an end. Usually, they end just in time for another story to begin.RELATED LINKS READ: Jenner a real "Boone" for OshawaWATCH: Jenner Prospect Update