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Keys to Pulling the Big Upset

02/19/2013, 11:00am CST
By Aaron Paitich, Touchpoint Media

"Hard work beats talent when the talent fails to work hard.”

Herb Brooks liked to use that phrase – and it rings true in all aspects of life. There’s no better proof of this than the “Miracle on Ice,” when Brooks, a St. Paul native, coached Team USA to a shocking 4-3 upset over the world hockey superpower Soviet Union in the 1980 Olympic semifinals in Lake Placid. The “Top Sports Moment of the 20th Century,” as Sports Illustrated called it, will have happened 33 years ago this Friday, Feb. 22.

While youth hockey teams gear up for playoff matchups, the “Miracle on Ice” is an inspiring reminder that, no matter how good a certain team is, they can be beaten by hard work, commitment and team play. Here are some good reminders to keep in mind heading into big games in the coming weeks:

Before you can win, you have to believe you can win. Confidence in your team can go a long way. Hit the ice believing in yourself and your teammates. Everybody has to buy in.

Never quit. No matter the period or score, keep playing the game hard. If your team gets behind, hard work and a little luck can change the momentum in a hurry. Having that attitude is contagious. When teammates see you giving 110 percent, it rubs off on everybody else.

Move your feet. Hockey is a skating game. Teams that get behind sometimes quit skating and start watching the game. Start with winning the small battles, and you might just end up winning the war.

Forget about the last game. No need to psych yourself out by dwelling on the last loss to this team or any other team. This is a new game. On any given night, any team can be beaten. That is why the game is played.

Stick with your game. At this point in the season, each player should know what it takes to play his/her best hockey. Listen to your coaches and play within the team game. If strategies change in upcoming games against top opponents, pay attention to the coaches’ directions and make sure you understand what your jobs are.

Win or lose, play like a champion. If you give the game your best effort, there’s nothing to be ashamed of. Take pride in putting on the gear and working hard for your teammates, coaches and community.

Have fun! There are many reasons to love the game of hockey, and tournament time is one of them. If you win it all, great. But most importantly, cherish these times with your teammates. Players who look back don’t necessarily remember the result of every game, but they don’t forget the times in the hotels, the postgame dinners or the road trips in the cars.

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