The Colorado Springs Zoomies have been one of the CHL’s strongest teams since the league’s inception. They made the playoffs in 2016 and 2017, only to lose in the divisional round. This season, Colorado Springs is mired around the .500 mark, but they’re hoping to get hot in the second half and win their first title. If they do reach the promised land, the Zoomies may look back on this week’s comeback win – and coach Artie Gambisch’s unusual inspirational speech – as a turning point.
On Wednesday, Colorado Springs rallied after blowing a third-period lead and snatched a 3-2overtime win over the contending Idaho Spuds. After the game, several of the players pointed to a between-periods Gambisch pep talk as the key to the comeback. When asked what the coach had said, the players were a bit vague. “It’s hard to describe. It was… a work of art,” said RW Joel Hagendosh, who scored the game-winning goal. “You should ask him about it.”
Accordingly, the reporters asked Gambisch about the speech in his postgame press conference. After a long laugh, Gambisch said, “I don’t know. I feel like it should just be between me and the boys.” Upon follow-up questioning, however, Gambisch elaborated.
“I was telling them not to give up hope just because we had the lead and lost it,” said Gambisch. “I told them that they shouldn’t be afraid, that fear is the only thing that could hold them back.”
Gambisch’s tempo and volume picked up as he got into the rhythm of it, “I told ‘em, ‘If you’re afraid you can’t win it, kill that fear! Stab it right in the heart with a rusty jackknife! Be brave! Punch a lion in the nuts! Fear is useless! Fear is temporary! Glory is forever!”
Pounding the podium, Gambisch shouted, “You deserve greatness! Kill anyone who says you don’t and build your castle out of their bones! Now go out there, grab this game by the throat and choke it to death with your bare hands!!” The assembled reporters broke into spontaneous applause as Gambisch grinned and said, “That’s what I told ‘em, basically.”
The Colorado Springs players were just as charged up by the speech as the reporters. “It was the most inspirational thing I’ve ever heard in my life,” said D Ernie Blake. “When he first got going, we weren’t quite sure what was happening. We were looking at each other like, ‘Is he having a stroke? Do we need to call 911?’ But then we got into it, and we got pumped up. By the time he was done, the other team didn’t stand a chance.”
“If General Patton had given that speech to the troops,” said G Sonny Kashiuk, “World War II would have been over in a week.”
“That speech… man, I get chills just thinking about it,” said C Foster Culp. “He got me so fired up, I was ready to run through a brick wall. In fact, I was gonna go find a brick wall and run through it, but my teammates kind of grabbed me and guided me out to the ice instead.”
Asked what he planned for an encore, Gambisch said, “I didn’t. You mean I’ve got to find a way to top that? Oh Jesus. I should have saved this one for the playoffs.”