Scott Tupper checking in here and bringing the Euro blog back to Brussels, and more specifically back to Royal Racing, where Mark and I are playing this season.
This is my second year at Racing, as I played here last year when we had a fairly successful season that saw us fall just short of EHL re-qualification in the playoffs, however a solid top-4 showing in the Euro Hockey League itself to finish off the year.
We’ve got some new faces in the mix this year, both on our coaching staff and with new players, so it’s an exciting time to be at Racing and I think we’ve got a good base to have a great season.
All that being said, we had a bit of a slow start to the year, managing just two draws to go with two losses through the first four games. We felt like we’d played quite well at times, but hadn’t been able to turn it in to victories.
After answering the typical ‘Is Racing in a crisis?’ questions from the media (the papers cover hockey well, but can be very dramatic), we continued to train hard and stick to our process. As we expected, the wins started to come and we won twice consecutively to give ourselves a good feeling leading up to a big match with Belgian champions of the last three years, the Waterloo Ducks last week.
There was a special feeling for this one, as our sponsor, Puilaetco Dewaay, had organized a charity event around it for their children’s foundation. There was a good build-up for the event and both teams were in need of points, so it was going to be a fun one to play.
Sure enough, the ‘ratsnest’ as we call it was full of supporters for both teams, upwards of 1500 people in attendance to take it in. After absorbing some pressure early on, we found our feet and went ahead 1-0 on a good counter attack.
After WatDucks hit back with one of their own, we instantly went ahead again, taking a 2-1 lead in to half. The second half saw some solid defensive work and goaltending from Racing coupled with good counter attacks and solid finishing, and we ran out 4-1 winners in front of our always supportive home crowd.
It was definitely the most fun match of the year for us, and was a good re-launching point for our season (and over 7,500 euros were raised also!). We’ve climbed the table up to a tie for 4th, which wasn’t expected about a month ago.
The league has been very tight this year, with ‘surprise’ results happening every weekend. It’s important for us to build on last week and keep collecting points every Sunday in order to solidify our spot in the top 4, which will eventually make playoffs.
Outside of hockey, life has been good. I’m a Graduate Business student at SFU studying online so between that, taking 5 hours of French classes per week, coaching a team at the club, hitting the gym with the guys and managing my fantasy football team (the most important on that list) I’m staying busy.
It’s been fun going to the gym with the Irish boys who will be our competition at World League Round 2 in San Diego in February, the first stop on our road to Rio. I think Al Sothern and I had an unspoken game of chicken yesterday on the treadmill, neither wanting to end their interval workout first.
Off to our double-training Thursday now to continue preparing for a big matchup with fellow Canadian Taylor Curran coming up this Sunday. Thanks for reading!
PS. Anyone interested in Racing’s weekly highlights can check them out on youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EBCWpGFqxWI&list=UUKwUPymQXTBcVrzdALJnsuw
To support the Men’s National Team with a tax-receipted donation, visit their Chimp page here.