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S38 SMJHL - Hey Baby (If You'll be My Girl)

I just realized that I hadn't actually posted this to get money from it, weird.

The SMJHL Playoffs from the perspective of the Prince George Firebirds

In the sports world, certain people and events are immortalized in a fairly unique way. Simply adding “The” before something suddenly makes it a proper noun and if you were to demonstrate an example chances are some or even most people would understand what you are talking about. Prince George has a few of those, as all teams do, but these events will live on in such legendary status that they certainly stand-out, but in order to understand why, we have to start at the first instance.

The Drought

Thirty seasons. Thirty long seasons the longest drought in SMJHL history, and it wasn’t your typical “bad team stays bad" affair. No. Good teams, even teams that could’ve held the title of “dynasty”, had fate been so kind, were doomed to fail. After championships in S1, S4, and S8, the long wait began. Dozens of SHL legends would come and go. Occasional struggles would ensue, but the team flourished in the mid-S10’s, the mid-S20’s as the Regina Force, and nearly the entirety of the S30’s. Alexander Andrezjeck (S9), Chuck Winnfield (S13), Chico Salmon (S16), Chuck Goody (S19-S20), David Webb (S21-S22), Jaxson Reynolds (S26-S27), Michael McFadden (S27-S29), Bennett Jones (S27), Nicolas Winter (S28-S29), Eduard Selich (S30-S31), Teodors Cukurs (S31-S33), Chris York (S33-S34), Xander Green (S33-S35), Dani Forsberg (S33-S36) and more would all pass through Prince George and Regina with not a cup to show for it. This great drought includes: three trips to the finals in S17, S28 and S30 with S17 and S30 ending in a game seven, six conference finals losses and 16 first round exits, 11 game seven losses in total, including six game seven losses in a span of eight years.

The Trade

After 30 seasons of championship drought, and especially five seasons of having all the right pieces, Prince George management had had enough, and at the S38 trade deadline, acquired forwards Wolf Von Hammersmark, Daedric Heikennin, and Alexander Zajac, as well as goaltender Aleksandr Aleksandrov from Colorado in exchange for eight picks and three players and, as a result, the entire league turned their collective heads. You see, already a plethora of storylines were developing: several Prince George stars were in their last season of eligibility including all three members of the indomitable “Doom Line” of Dionýz Vyskoč, Paddy Kane-Rielly, and Blåbär Bananerström, all looking to cap off their incredible careers with the crowning piece, the trade brought in Colorado’s veteran forwards who themselves have gone cupless in their tenures, not to mention the trade itself putting the very future of the team for the next few seasons on the line for one playoff run, and the immense backlash from critics league-wide, eight winning seasons in the past ten and two finals appearances, but still no cup to show, an assortment of promising rookies and youth also complimenting the veterans, in Kyler Gill, Mikhail Lokitonov, Anders Christiansen, Maurice Picard, Mikhail Petrikov, John Grossman Jr, and Tommy Tuck, and, of course, The Drought.

The Run

After 50 games Prince George found themselves in first and with a bye, an achievement well-fought for, and with all three members of the Doom Line over point-per game, but the players were anxious to begin their quest for the cup. The Scarecrows would down the Whalers, but it would be the barely-over-.500 Montreal Militia surprising everyone and defeating the Kelowna Knights in six that the Firebirds would face as their first opponent. Now many of the league’s pundits were saying that if the Firebirds did not sweep this poor team that only made the playoffs as the last seed than the trade was lost and everything was for nought, but the Firebirds weren’t going to be assuming that any part of their journey would be easy.
Game one was a marathon: a 1-0 victory in overtime. Daedric Heikennin would seal the deal but Tommy Tuck would save 38 shots for the shutout. Game two would be an offensive explosion in Montreal, ending 6-3 with Blåbär Bananerström earning himself a hat-trick. Montreal would answer back in game three with Jack Tanner getting a hat-trick in 4-1 win and again in the the nail-biter game 4 that saw the Militia score with 31 seconds on the clock to win by one.However, game five brought some change in Prince George as Tommy Tuck took and AA swapped places, but it didn’t make a difference as it was a goal-scoring clinic from both sides that ended 6-5 in Prince George’s favor but game six would be a slow but intense affair that saw some back-and-forth rushes into overtime and with Nolan Snipez tying the series and keeping Montreal alive. Now at game seven, the tension was palpable. It was do or die, and Dionýz Vyskoč and the Firebirds chose to live, as “Dildo” (his misnomer nickname) chants arose from both teammates and fans alike while he potted two goals in their 3-0 finals-appearance-clinching win, but they were to face the team that trailed them in the standings by only two wins: the Detroit Falcons.

The series would be a back-and-forth tennis match with the Firebirds losing game one in a 6-4 shootout contest but they would stampede right back to a 6-0 win to dominate the Falcons in game two. Game three was a toss-up that Prince George barely held onto in the last seconds but Detroit would dominate game four to tie it up all over again. The Firebirds stormed ahead at home in Game 5 to win quite handedly 5-2.

The Thing (a.k.a. The Goal)

The Prince George Firebirds were now on the verge of their first championship in 30 seasons, but they had been there before and recently. Flashback to S30, the underdog Firebirds have made it to the finals despite having had no first or second round draft picks, trading their captain away, and a lackluster season, but they eliminated Vancouver in six and swept the president’s trophy Knights culminating in eight straight wins, all that remained was the Halifax Raiders (who also happen to have the aforementioned captain that was traded away). The series is back and forth and the stage is set for a dramatic game seven. After two periods the Firebirds are up by two and all seems like the Cinderella story will finally come true and the curse broken, that is before Cleo Green, a third line inactive, showed up and allowed his team to take the lead but two minutes before the game’s end and so the Four-Star Cup slipped from Prince George’s reach.

Back to S38, the Firebirds started a media campaign which brought in alumni from the past to endorse and support the S38 team and the end of the drought, the result was unanimous support in the city from a relatively small population that was already for the most part following the games and shutting down when they occurred. Everywhere in the streets one could find fans wearing jerseys, advertisements on buses, benches and buildings. The city was alive with pride, and that was good, because the Firebirds would need everything they could get.

Game six had everyone on their toes as it might as well have been a mini-game seven. Each teams took turns in the first, but ended the period tied at two, and carried that score until right before the end, where Viktor Marius scored a huge goal in order to keep the Falcons alive and the desperate Firebirds, trying to tie the game and give them another chance at winning the cup in one sitting, failed to do so, and the stage was now set for game number seven in Prince George. It’s minutes to puck-drop and the rink is absolutely filled and the city silent in anticipation. Firebird alumni dot the crowd in order to bring public support to a peak but it won’t be found as the city follows the series ecstatically. Chants of “we want the cup” and “do it for Dildo” fill the rink. The energy is electric, but it would be Tommy Barlow and the Falcons first on the board with a late goal in a frantic first period. Despite a couple of ill-advised penalties from Grossman in the second period, it would be the Firebirds who score and tie the game in the second thanks to Kyler Gill.The rest of regulation would go by, but not without plenty of scare as both teams attempt to inch closer to a championship without leaving themselves vulnerable, but this sort of game can and will only be solved after overtime. Detroit pounces immediately in overtime, keeping the puck in the Firebirds’ zone and getting a half a dozen shot opportunities that are only prevented by a flailing Aleksandrov and a select few players sacrificing their bodies to take shots. Shortly thereafter, Prince George get their chance at offence and launch several shots at the Falcons goal, but Marmeladov stands strong just as Aleksandrov had at the other end. Play moves to other end once again, but Detroit only sees one shot on net in this rush, but the Firebirds have a similar rush to the other end of the nice ending in a saved shot as the overtime enters its 14th minute and the effects of a marathon game of such important was showing its effects on the ice and players and sowing the seeds of exhaustion into all … and then history was made and Prince George was shook with the loudest noise the city has ever heard. I will leave you now with the final call:

“Dionýz Vyskoč obtains the puck in a promising area, he's advancing up the ice at a breakneck speed
Dionýz Vyskoč dekes past the last defender, he's through 1 ON 1. Dion LETS ONE FLY

Fun fact: The finals that bookend The Drought (S8 & S38) were both against Detroit and won in a game seven.

MWHazard Wrote:i'll playwith anyone
playing with my teammates is part of the intangibles I bring to the table
i play with them a lot.
they didn't like it at first
but after a while, it just felt normal
Justice,Sep 18 2016, 02:09 PM Wrote:4-0 and 0-4 aren't that different tbh
McJesus - Today at 10:38 PM Wrote:FIRE EGGY
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[Image: Artermis.gif]

As someone who wasn't around at the time this is dope to read. Really well done, what a historic moment!

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I remember there was so much doubt...

but we did the thing <3

6,000 mile road#DidItForDildo1,700 miles more
A Silver Road

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Epic sigs thanks to Wasty/Copenhagen and King
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Drought Ender, Curse Breaker, Firebird

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