Saturday, May 02, 2009

Conference Finals, Here We Come!

Being realistic last fall, after seeing the Cyclones win the Kelly Cup and then, logically, losing most of the team, I was content to see them make the playoffs this year. I wouldn't have been disappointed but not upset if they got bumped in the first round; it would have been understandable. Then with the rough start they had, I was just hoping for them to bounce back to a .500 season so fans had at least a 50% chance of seeing a win.

Stupid me! There's an old saying in leadership that you get from your team (crew, shift, squad, etc.) whatever you expect from them. Have low expectations, you'll get low results. Coach Weber and Coach Stork clearly never lowered their expectations for the Cyclones, for we find ourselves again in the Conference Finals for the second year in a row. I know that sometimes I sound like a bootlicker of Chuck Weber's. It's not that at all. I've studied leadership for a long time and I simply recognize that he is an outstanding leader, in the truest sense of the word.

We would not have what we have if here were not. He's also a brilliant strategist. Going from Johnstown in basically a playoff series at the end of the regular season, to Wheeling, to Elmira presented three different styles of hockey to face. This is especially true from Wheeling to Elmira. Weber and Stork had to adjust their strategies and devise systems to defeat two totally different styles. They had to prepare the players to face this challenge, give them to tools to accomplish it, and "sell" it to them in a way that they actually used the systems taught.

Obviously, it worked.

I expected the Elmira series to go 5 or 6 games, just because it is so hard to run with a physical team. The Cyclones showed they can play the physical game and give it right back to them - and keep their skill up & score goals. A sweep, ending in a shutout. Awesome.

I took some pot-shots at Mike Sgroi in previous posts. I should say now that it is over and I have to give respect to the Elmira Jackals team. They made it as far as they did; they are doing something I only dreamed of doing as a youth hockey player. Minor league players are truly in it for "love of the game" because they sure don't get paid the big bucks. They played a style that I do not like and I hope never comes to Cincinnati; but still they played professional hockey in a successful regular season and through the second round of the playoffs.

Hats-off to Elmira, they were a worthy adversary. But now, let them be gone. They taught the Cyclones some lessons in toughness and patience in the series. This boosts the confidence of the Cyclones that they can go deep and it reaffirms their faith in their leadership (including on-ice leaders like Ehgoetz).

Let the Cyclones take that education all the way down the stretch!

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