I started to build Reno Pond Hockey’s adult league team back around October of 2020. At one point we had thirty-plus players committed to playing on two Reno Pond Hockey teams with a third affiliate team hosting extra players. The idea was that both the Reno Pond Hockey teams would have around fifteen players while playing in two different levels. Additional players would have been loaned out to our affiliate team who would have played in the same league as the second Reno Pond Hockey team. This didn’t materialize. After a few months of delays, the league was announced and Reno Pond Hockey moved forward with putting a team together. The delays had caused the previous team put together in October to dissolve. A new team was put together.
Going into the preseason, we didn’t know where our talent level was compared to the rest of the league. The goal of our preseason was to get to know each other and evaluate our talent level. Preseason saw two events. The first event was a practice. The second event was a scrimmage with another team from B-League. Neither event went that well. Not a lot of players showed up for our first-ever practice. The same can be said about the scrimmage. Only one of Reno Pond Hockey’s top three players showed up. The result coming out of preseason wasn’t what we had hoped for. Coming out of the preseason and heading toward the regular season the attitude had shifted from optimism to a more grounded realization that we aren’t as good as we thought we were.
The first game rolls around and the whole team is there. That was the first and last game with the entire team. Our first couple of games gave us hope in making the playoffs. We started the season with a 14-2 win followed by a 7-1 win. We lost the next game but that was changed because of a technicality. At this point, early on in the season, we were fighting for a top spot in the league. Our 4-5 loss to the Desert Dogs in game four was the turning point in our season. This game was our first-ever loss. It was a hard-fought game. It saw the suspension of our top goal scorer. He had scored eleven goals in those four games. He was suspended for the rest of the season after he jumped off the bench to pull a Desert Dogs player off of one of the Reno Pond Hockey players. After that, the decision was made to point Reno Pond Hockeys culture in a different direction than what it was becoming. We were a new team with no previous culture. One was going to be created and established by the end of the season. We pushed it in the right direction. Even now we are still working to build what the culture should be.
The loss to the Desert Dogs started our losing streak. We followed up our first loss by losing every following game. Losing our leading scorer was a big part of why we struggled throughout the rest of the season. As we came down the final stretch, we had no hope to make the playoffs. We did have the chance to go 6-6 as to not have a losing season. Our final three games were against opponents who were below us in the standings. On paper, we should have won those games. The first two of those three games were back-to-back nights. We struggled to put together two shifts for the first game. In the second game, we played with only five players. We did very well for not having any subs. The last game of the season was close up until the third period. We couldn’t get much going. It was an unlucky game. A few good shots hit the posts, a few wide-open chances missed the net and penalties killed the team morale. Going into that game the attitude was at least we could win one last game. Then it felt like every force in the universe was stopping us from winning.
This season was a learning curve for everyone involved. At the end of the day, not everyone can win the championship. Moving forward we want to focus on the positives while addressing the negatives. We want to continue to build our team culture in the right way. Moving forward we have a lot to work on and we have a good group to work with.
The off-season was in the back of my mind going into our last three games. To start off the postseason, a second Reno Pond Hockey team was reconsidered. This team would have been called the Reno Pond Hockey Gunners. They would have played in the C-League. That didn’t materialize either. The core of about five to seven players was there, the league however isn’t expanding for the fall season. They are also moving towards trying to keep players on a single team at this point. That would have made it difficult (not impossible) to run an affiliate team. This idea may return in the future, for now, it is just being shelved.
We have already had a few curve balls thrown at us this off-season. Nothing that we cannot fix. I think the attitude is positive right now. I think we know as a team that moving forward we have to work on improving as a team. Our aspirations for a championship haven’t gone away. We just understand now that we need to work on ourselves first. If we are working on ourselves and are consistently improving the results will come.