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(GRADED) Deep Dive #2 - The S50 Tampa Bay Barracuda Finals Run
(This post was last modified: 01-04-2023, 08:10 AM by Opera_Phantom. Edited 1 time in total.)

(516 Words)

With S69 quickly approaching, it will be close to 20 seasons since the 50th season of the Simulation Hockey League, a monumental occasion for a league of this nature. One of the major questions for this season was simple: who would face each other in the finals?

The first team that made it was the Calgary Dragons, which was fitting since, before Buffalo and Hamilton annihilated the league in the S50s and S60s, they were considered one of the most dominating teams during those first 50 seasons.

The other team was the Tampa Bay Barracuda, another franchise who also were one of the original franchises, who were 4 seasons into their 6th rebrand in 50 seasons, had a mid S20's cup win long behind them, and had a roster that still was growing and was very much viewed as an underdog in this situation. How did they get here?

Well, it starts with the season itself: they were the top team in the Eastern Conference. While they did make the playoffs the previous season handily, they still had a lot to improve upon if they wanted the chance to make a deep run. In this aspect, they did: they were 3 games over 2nd place. The team itself didn't lead any scoring categories (Kristaps Ball was 2nd in assists), but their real superstar lied in Hall of Fame goaltender Benjamin Blue, who kept a 0.919 save percentage and had the 2nd most wins that season. With Blue pulling a lot of the weight, Tampa got into the playoffs handily.

Their first opponent was the Toronto North Stars, a team that was still rising in the ranks but had upset the Manhattan Rage in the wildcard round. Even then, the Barracuda handily defeated them in 6 games, with all winning games being multi-goal leads.

Their second opponent presented more of a challenge. The Hamilton Steelhawks, while not as dominant as they would be a few seasons later, were a formidable team. While it was a 6 game series, it was not an easy 6 games: half of the games ended in overtime, and most of the games were won by 1 goal, minus the first two or so games.

In both of these series, the main catalyst for victory lied in their young players: namely, Gunnar Soderberg (who newer players know for their time on the Chicago Syndicate) and Austin Roenick, who was a Jesster Trophy finalist that season. Together, they were 4th and 5th in playoff points that offseason.

Now, it's the finals, and Tampa Bay is doing great: they win 3 in a row to start the series, and they only need one more win. It should be easy, but the worst possible outcome occurs: they were reverse swept, which included a devastating overtime loss in game 7. Now, what prevented them from winning it all? Well, the first line of the Calgary Dragons. As mentioned, Soderberg and Roenick were 4th and 5th in points. The top 3 were Calgary's Mike Izzy, Shooter McGavin, and Maxime Bouchard, who were the main catalyst in their comeback.

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oh no

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