Andrew Gordon is the right winger on the Hershey Bears’ top line. His 71-point output this season (37 G, 34 A) has been crucial to the Bears’ epic offense and generated some serious NHL buzz. Along with Keith Aucoin and Alexandre Giroux, Gordon participated in the most prolific line in the AHL this year. His hard-nosed, straight-to-the-net style reminds us of a player 13 years his senior: Mike Knuble. The 24-year-old, Halifax native recently missed four games to a lower body injury but has returned for the Calder Cup Finals. Andrew joins Russian Machine Never Breaks to reflect on last night’s game-one loss to the Texas Stars and beyond. Let’s hand it over to Gordo:
Hi, everybody! Before I get going, I would first like to take a quick second to thank all of you who are reading this. The fact that you are interested in what I have to say is flattering, and for that I thank you. This being my first blogging experience, I’ll ask that you to bear with me (no pun intended). I try not to read much of what’s written in the media, so I’m as surprised as anyone to see me joining forces with them! Anyway…here goes nothing! Thanks again!
I’ve find myself in unfamiliar territory here tonight. After hosting the Texas Stars in game 1 of the Calder Cup Finals we let the game slip through our fingers and find ourselves down 1-0 in a series for the first time since the Eastern Conference Finals against Providence last year. Our home record this year has been so strong that losing in our building had never even crossed my mind to this point. We won 24 in a row at home at one point this season, so letting a game slip past us this deep in the playoffs isn’t a good feeling. I think this feeling in my gut comes from an expectation I have built up inside me over the past couple years: I expect to win. I am expected to win. There isn’t any other option as a Hershey Bear. Has it made me a sore loser? Maybe a bit. But I have built up such a hatred for this feeling that I will work myself into the ground not to feel like this again.
It’s a strange thing when you think about it. 100 games and 28 teams later, only us and Texas are still alive. In a week and a half, only one of us can win. I remember in October when we first started this trek back to the finals thinking “We have to do this all over again? I feel like we just finished!” But once things got going there wasn’t an option. We had to win. That’s what the Hershey Bears do. When you win 60 games in a year, every loss is magnified because it’s such a foreign feeling. Although we have only lost one game, I feel like the world is crashing down.
Maybe this is a little adversity that we need to bring our game to another level. Winning is never easy, but boy is it worth it! I feel like winning last season has built a thirst to be a champion in me. I have tasted what it’s like to be a champion and now I don’t want to have any other feeling. Seeing as it’s still fairly early in my career, it’s impossible to know how many more opportunities I will have to hoist a cup over my head at any level. I would hate to be so close and watch another group of guys take that feeling right out from under me.
I believe that winning doesn’t come easy, and like most things has to be learned through experience. You have to lose and see how that feels before you can really understand the emotion that waits on the other side. When I was fresh out of college, I had the pleasure of joining up with the Bears on their cup run in 2007. It was quite the experience, but the one thing I remembered most was being in the dressing room after they lost in game 5 to Hamilton and seeing how the guys reacted. I was coming off a 40 game schedule and a one-game-knock-out NCAA tournament and had no idea what it took to get that team to the place I found them that day. I learned quickly the next season what the pro life is like and how it can wear on you both physically and mentally.
I remember seeing the faces of guys like Mike Green, Dave Steckel, and Tomas Fleischmann, who would later go on to start fantastic careers in Washington. These were guys who spent significant time (if not all season as Mike did) in the NHL, and had the NHL right around the corner waiting for them. Yet, there they were standing in front of me devastated and in tears over what just happened. It was hard to really understand until you have gone through it for yourself. Then, I was an outsider looking in, and only two seasons later I was in their same position. Playing in the finals after nearly 100 games, countless hours on the bus and hundreds of ice bags, bruises and blocked shots. You start to wonder if it was all for nothing? Without that championship ring on my finger…what was it all for? Sure I might get a contract for the next season out of it all. But when my playing days are over and I’m telling stories about the old days, will they be tales of glory and a happiness that can’t be explained? Or will it be a sad story of a team that should have, could have, but didn’t?
Together we have 6 games to decide which story we want to tell all those years from now. It’s not going to be an easy road. But then again nobody said it would be.
As part of my sign-off, I have decided to leave each entry with a quote that I feel relates to what I have said…or at least what I’m feeling but couldn’t find my own words to say it. I’m not a writer, but I’m trying here!!
“Show me someone who has done something worthwhile, and I’ll show you someone who has overcome adversity.” -Lou Holtz
Thank you all for your time! See you Saturday!
Yours in hockey,
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