Aalborg lost their Game Seven battle with Gentofte today by a 3-0 score, and it was the first time they were shutout in back-to-back games all season. Coach Brandon Reid indicated that there were a number of banged-up players who were out of the lineup, but he wouldn't let that be an excuse in their series when we spoke last. With key players such as Andrew Blazek on the shelf, the Pirates lost some firepower they had relied on throughout the season, but I'd be remiss in not mentioning that Gentofte played incredibly well to dismiss the top-ranked team in the Metal Ligaen. Putting those factors together, the Pirates almost overcame some odds they hadn't really faced all season, but will now watch from the sidelines for the remainder of the season.
Let's all take a collective deep breath here for a moment.
Losing sucks. I'll point out this fact again, but there isn't a person on the planet who likes losing. It's brutal. However, there is a silver lining to this dark cloud, and that's the fact that mistakes were made. In making mistakes, we, as human beings, learn. From those mistakes, we get smarter, wiser, more experienced, and the result is that we're better off for it. There's an old mantra in sports that one must first learn how to lose before one can win. The Aalborg Pirates suffered a loss today of a large magnitude.
The expectations that the Pirates carried with them into these playoffs were certainly deserved after finishing first-overall in the Metal Ligaen. However, we should look at the bigger picture when it came to this season's success in that a lot of these players had never experienced the kind of success they had this season. When adversity hit in the form of injuries combined with the pressure of playing a team who had risen to the occasion, the Pirates threw all they could at the Stars, but fell in the final two games - both being shutouts - after never trailing in the series. Again, it's a bitter pill to swallow, but look beyond this year's doubloon, fans.
I spoke about a month ago about how a loss in the opening round of the playoffs would hurt. The linked article, though, spoke of the growth of the team's fan base through sustained winning seasons and how the Pirates are doing things right by changing the culture. Brandon Reid stated, "About three years if all according to plan, we have 5000 spectators for each game, not only because we continue to win, but because hockey culture is back in town," and it should be noted that this was Year One. The doubloon is nice, Pirates fan, but why not grab the pirate ship?
While this loss will sting, the growth and steps forward this franchise made this season will lay the foundation for future successful seasons. If we're talking about a three-year plan, the Pirates stepped beyond the blueprint with this first successful season. They'll have some hard work to do in the off-season and there will be difficult decisions to make, but the Pirates are certainly on their way to securing the pirate ship rather than the individual doubloon.
Look beyond the doubloon, Pirates fans. There are bigger treasures out there, but you'll need a ship to get there. And a ship doesn't sail anywhere without a fantastic crew. That's on you, Pirates fans, so get onboard!
Yo-ho, yo-ho, it's a Pirates life for me!
Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!