There were a lot of expectations for the first professional sports franchise in Prince George over the weekend, unfortunately those expectations were that the team would be hammered by not only the Tacoma Stars who they played on the weekend, but by every other team in the Canadian Major Indoor Soccer League.
But, if you know any of the players on the Prince George Fury (even if some of them were out of shape), or if you know the coaching staff, you know that they have a lot of fight in them and will to win.
After the games, team owner John Mehrassa said, "unfortunately we didn't give the fans what they came for and hopefully they'll give us a chance and keep coming out."
I disagree with Mehrassa, and believe the fans got more than they thought they would get. For some, they may have gone to the games out of pure curiosity. It's like the proverbial car crash. You don't want to look, but you find yourself looking anyway, but that wasn't the case.
The first game was full of end to end excitement with the Fury taking the lead on more than one occasion. Obviously there were bound to be some nerves and restraint on the part of some players until they got used to the venue, then they really showed their will to win, not just for themselves, but for the crowd that came out to watch them.
There was also a lot more cheering and shouting than at a Cougar's game, possibly due to the fact that there are so many more local players on the Fury and the fans feel more of an attachment. As a player, the cheering and shouting provides that extra push when tired that you may otherwise not have.
Down 8 to 4 with only a few minutes left, Sipho Sibiya Sonny Powar and Brad Stewart got their team going again and they showed what they were made of. With only 9.4 seconds left on the clock and having pulled goalkeeper Kyle Flannagan, Ante Cirko became the extra man on the field as they pushed forward and tied the game to raucus applause and cheers from the crowd with only 1.7 seconds left on the clock. Unfortunately the storm didn't last too long with the Fury losing in sudden death overtime.
Although not as exciting later in the game, the second match also made for good entertainment even though the Fury lost 6 to 2.
Being that these were the first games for the team in this league, with a number of rules that the players are not used to playing with, and knowing that the team will only get better under the excellent and committed coaching staff, despite losing both games, the Fury are off to a good start.
They showed the fans that they were not willing to sit back and take it, they were there to win.
Knowing that there is a professional franchise in Prince George will likely be a deciding factor for soccer players from other cities who are looking to go to university, especially with the UNBC team already in place. It is also great for the up-and-coming players from the PGYSA, and it may also encourage some players in the NCSSL to rededicate themselves and and to try out next year.
Knowing that this was a gamble, and knowing that the exhibition games last year lost a bunch of money, John Mehrassa and the Fury's major sponsor Wood Wheaton need to be congratulated and credited for bringing this together.
Even though both of the games ended with a lose-lose, the overall picture is a win-win situation for soccer and for Prince George.