What a Long Strange Trip

That was hard.
We went up to Connecticut this weekend to play in the Men’s Club National Playdowns with modest goals. First was to get some experience playing together as a team. With 7 games in 4 days, we definitely accomplished that goal. Next was to win a game. We accomplished that in our first game. We were a bit fortunate in that the other team didn’t start playing well until later in the tournament, but it was a win. The other two goals were to beat the other teams from our club and to finish with a winning record. We came out in our second game against the #1 seed and had them on the ropes, but let them off the hook. My memory of that bleary 8am game (the first of three that day) is fuzzy, but we had the lead all the way through, and I even had a shot in the final end that would have had us sitting pretty for the win, but we were overzealous on the sweeping and the shot went through and we lost. But we came back nicely that afternoon and had a lot of fun beating one of the Potomac teams. Unfortunately, we had to rush to eat dinner and get back on the ice for our 8pm game, which we lost in a close battle. Our opponent also had three games that day, but they were able to defeat their second opponent in only 6 ends instead of 10, so they had a good bit more rest, and that may have been the difference. We were just beat after a long Friday. Even so, we were sitting at 2-2, with two winnable games on Saturday.
We slept in a bit on Saturday morning and got to the club for our noon game. It was a tight one all the way down, but we were still down by two points in the 9th end, and we were in trouble. With our skip’s first shot, we had a difficult shot called, but our opponent for some reason was talking quite loudly behind me that there was a better shot that we should be playing. I called down to my skip and we changed to that shot (the opposing skip even showed us the line to play it!), and even though he missed, it enabled us to score one point and make the game close. In the 10th end, we made some great shots and aggressively went for the steal of a point, which we made and forced an extra end. In the extra end, we had to do the same thing, and we did exactly that, playing our guards and getting our one rock buried behind, for the win.
After a thrilling victory, we again had a short time to grab some sustenance and get back on the ice for another game. Luckily, or so we thought, this game was against the team that hadn’t won a game all tournament. So of course, we proceeded to play our worst game of the weekend, and they managed to force us to an extra end. I absolutely sucked the extra end, missing both of my shots, but we still had our rock in position to score our point. Then came the crucial decision for our team: with our rock still on the button, and the opposition with a rock sitting about 8 feet in front of it for a possible “run back,” what do we do? I’m still not sure what the best shot would have been, but the shot we picked was probably the wrong one: the try to guard our middle rock. The idea with the last rock advantage when you only need to score one point is to keep the middle open for your last shot, and we effectively blocked that. Sure enough, the other skip made his run back, and the crowd at the club went wild. Since it was Saturday night, and we were the only teams left playing, it was probably the biggest crowd of the weekend. So that left us with a virtually identical run back shot of our own rock for the win. It was close the whole way down, but our sweepers managed to keep the shot straight when I yelled at them to sweep, and we made the shot for a thrilling win, guaranteeing ourselves a winning record.
In our last game at 8am on Sunday morning, we had the chance to play spoiler and prevent the other Potomac team from getting into a tiebreaker. It was a double knockout round robin, so even though one team was undefeated, the one loss team had to get a second loss to be knocked out. Unfortunately, they just outplayed us, and it was not to be. Still, we finished 4-3, a winning record, and also finished well above our 6th place seed, in third place. Our only losses were to the top two teams, and in that grueling third game on Friday. We were quite happy with our results, and we are definitely psyched up for the Dykes bonspiel in a couple of weeks.
I also have to mention that it was great having my family there to cheer me on. The couple of times when I might have gotten down on myself after a bad game, it was great to come off the ice and get a hug from the kids and mom. The kids were pretty good too, even if they didn’t want to take naps to let Lisa have a rest. Lisa should definitely be nominated for sainthood for getting through the weekend with the two kids mostly by herself.
After our 8am game yesterday was over, we stopped by my grandparents’ place in New York, since it was pretty much on the way home. We had a nice visit, and the kids charmed them like they had charmed the state of Connecticut all weekend long. Soon enough though, we were back on the road, with shockingly little traffic. We made it all the way into Maryland before Evan woke up hungry from his nap. Then we made it about 5 minutes from our house before he started getting cranky from being in his car seat so long.
We unpacked some of the stuff from the car, and I went downstairs to watch the big NFC Championship game. Luckily, I actually remembered to set the Tivo to record it, so I quickly caught up on the first half action. From what I saw, the Giants were dominating the game, except for one Favre to Driver 90 yard TD catch and run. Ridiculous how open he was and how that changes a game. Watching the second half live was a torment. McQuarters picks off Favre but fumbles it right back! Aargh! Tynes misses two field goals, including the game winner! Aaaaarrrrgh! I couldn’t even watch the last field goal, but I was bouncing off the ceiling after it went through. The Super Bowl should be a lot of fun. I think the Giants’ coaching staff has done a heck of a job getting them to this point, and I hope that they can come up with the game plan to keep the game close, with a chance to win at the end. Either way, our neighbors who usually host the Super Bowl party are big Giants fans, so I will be joined in glee or misery for the game.
So now it’s back to reality. My sore muscles are already thanking me for not sweeping today. Work is quiet due to the federal holiday (that we don’t get off but nearly everyone else does). And the busted dryer and dishwasher beckon me to call an electrician to take a look. Sigh. It was fun while it lasted.