That’s a long time by any standard. For a team that has been almost completely rebuilt and then nourished in the shadow of past success, it’s a long time to struggle for those rare rays of light. Already at the end of last season we felt that we are definitely on the right path, and the team headed into the off-season with a clear goal to make the last push to the top. A lot of hard work has been put in, the countless hours of practises have finally started to pay dividends. Helsinki Cyclone won again.
As we set off to Ikaalinen, we caught a nice glimpse of sunshine as can be seen from our earlier post. The weekend started off on a good note, and we all started to have a certain feeling already from the get-go.. Even the chilly weather in Ikaalinen while we were walking the field in the evening couldn’t get our spirits down . We found out the field was laid out very accurately, and all of the lines that existed on paper could also be found from the field. The only significant drawback was the sloped field itself, where one tape is higher than the other. We felt that it’d be more important to have accurate bunker positions than to be 100% level. Hopefully the field could also be leveled out for next possible tournaments.
The next morning we got up early and enjoyed a nice breakfast at the hotel before heading off to the fields. The guys from Urho started the mind games already at the breakfast table by semi-jokingly pointing out our “favorite” status for the event. We laughed it off, but it still left us with a quiet confidence more than anything else.
National League games
In the tournament, the league games were scheduled for the morning and the divisional games were to be played in the afternoon. Our preliminary group consisted of NVP, Urho Musta and Trivoga Silver. The first game was game 4 of the day, so we had plenty of time to get our gear together. We won NVP 4-0, leaving the team feeling quite pleased.
The second game of the preliminaries was against Urho Musta, a traditionally strong contender in the Finnish scene. In that game we were struggling with penalties, receiving at worst 2 penalties in a point. Urho took the game 4-3, and we had a quick debriefing about avoiding the penalties and being more focused in the game.
The last and final game of the preliminaries was against Trivoga Silver, who had stepped up from 1st Division to the League for this season. Trivoga played a happy and aggressive game, but we won 4-2.
The Semifinal game was against the ever-tough Trivoga Gold, who took the first point, but we were able to take three consecutive points to bring the game to 3-1. Trivoga was able to squeeze one more point on the board to be 3-2 with less than a minute of game time left. We had anticipated their push, and the time ran out with 1 Trivoga and 3 of us still on the field. Final score of 3-2 took us to the final.
In the final we were to meet Urho Musta again, as they had won a rejuvenated Dream Team Turku in their semifinal. In the huddle before the finals, we set our goals to playing aggressive but smart and not taking penalties. It was great to feel the commitment and focus of the team, and we had no doubt that we will earn ourselves the victory. The firstpoint went our way, but Urho was sure to come back swinging to tie the game up. We won the following point tightly, and fortified the lead by taking the 3-1 point as well. There was not too much time on the clock and we could hold off the push leaving the field clear of opposition. Raffe had a few seconds on the clock, so he did a little dance of victory for the crowd before the buzzer declared us the winners of the first league event of 2010.
We wish to thank everyone that has supported us, DYE, GoldHammer, Virtue, Maxs, Paintball Games, The Tiger Nightclub, BullitProof Monkey, Pakkotoisto.com and KM. Also, every single person that has had faith in our rebuilt team, we appreciate the trust and the support you have given us. The 1st Division team did a fantastic job on the pit, we could not have been as focused if we would not have had your help! We still have a lot of work to do so we can compete consistently for the top placements, but with this team and with these people, it’s a privilege to bleed black and blue!
Stay tuned for a 1st Division post!