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Claimed:Riga is Set for S39


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Riga is Set for Season 39 
With the pre-season almost up and the GM's unconventional 'team building' adventures almost behind them, Riga Reign look forward to Season 39 with a nervous confidence. 
The team, which has had a very consistent core for a number of seasons now, are still looking for their first Continental Cup. Expectations, especially for the past two seasons, have been high in Riga and the persistent failure to even reach the Finals have the fans and Board of Directors restless. 
It was actually for that very reason that Mr. Szatkowski decided to have the team go on these outings with their families. He wanted to take the players' minds off the pressure put on the team - and it did work. They have been very relaxed and focused during training camp and pre-season but as the regular season approaches, the atmosphere is tightening up. 
"Yea, we've had a great off-season and I believe as a team we've strengthened," said veteran Mikey Blade. "We've spent a lot of time working on our special teams and our personal fitness. But I got to tell you, I'm really nervous going into the season. You can feel the tension mounting like a slime-ball on a prostitute - pretty aggressively."
The Reign, for the past two seasons have lost out to their accursed rivals, Davos Dynamo, in the European Conference finals. In Season 37 it was a nail-biting seven-game series, with Thomas Landry scoring the game-winning goal just 22 seconds into the third period. Last season, the series only went 5 games but every game was very intense and very close - except the last one. It ended up as a 6-1 trouncing, with 4 goals coming in the second period. Ultimately, it was Riga's lack of discipline that cost them. 5 of the 6 goals came from a Davos powerplay. 
Davos after the 6th goal of the night.
"We have had multiple talks about how we are going to make smarter decision on the ice," said the most recent Boulet winner, Brennan Mcqueen. "We know that it was our undisciplined play that cost us the series, and not Davos' good play. I think this is why the team and the fans are taking the series loss so hard. We can beat these guys and we all know it. We just have to stay out of the penalty box."
You're telling me. In the S38 playoffs, Riga took 205 penalty minutes. Considering the fact they only played 10 games, that's over 20PIMs per game. 
"We are a physical team. We like to go after the puck and bring the game to our opponents," explains General Manager Mike Szatkowski. "Usually in the playoffs, you see more physical play and therefore the refs are generally less inclined to call some of the minor offenses. However, this didn't seem to be the case for us. It got very frustrating how they were calling every little thing but we didn't adjust to that, which ultimately was why we lost. We've had extensive talks during pre-season about this and I feel we are more equipped to be adaptable in these situations. But there's no way we are changing our style of play. It's the most exciting way to play hockey and it's one of the reasons why the fans in Riga are so passionate. They all knew it was within our capabilities to beat Davos. This season is ours for the taking."
Taking a look at the teams side-by-side, Riga have a younger team and a deeper team. The average player on Davos is a Season 34 draftee whereas Riga are on average almost 2 seasons younger. Considering the career for a VHL player is that of 8 years, it would be that Riga are 25% younger. Another interesting thing that will work in Riga's favour this season is not just the depth but the amount of practice hours that the teams have put in cumulatively is only 200 more in the case of Davos.* 
Is this Riga's year?
This rivalry has been well documented in the past and it is shaping up to be another back-and-forth battle for the European Conference once again this season. 
The regular season is set to begin tomorrow evening. Tune in at www.vhlforum.com
*The stats used in this paragraph are from the last time the VHL TPE Index had been updated and therefore does not include any of the off-season adjustments or trades. 
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Content: 3/3 - Riga should be an interesting team, but you will never conquer Davos! :) Should be an interesting rivalry this season, we've gotten away with it too easily for too long. 

Grammar: 2/2 - Looking good

Appearance: 1/1 - Good deal!

Overall: 6/6


Final: 6

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