Quarter finals for the Goaldiggers in the playoffs tonight, and the game started early, at 8:10. Strange for me playing that early but I’ll take it. I show up a few minutes later than I would have liked. I guess it is a side effect from living closer to the rink, because I did it last week too.
Our opponents tonight have been familiar to us. A handful of our players played with some of them years ago, and we played them last year in the playoffs as well. They are a chippy team, and very hard working. We’d have to work hard, and keep our cool. My first shift on the ice, a defensemen pinched in, and I covered for them. They came back but it still led to a 2 on 2 against us, and I felt had I back checked harder, I could have prevented the first goal of the game. It really is deflating to let a goal in on your first shift, especially when there are guys who haven’t even seen the ice yet.
Later in the period, I tried to make up for it by working harder and did a half assed job at a board battle. I refused to go in against two opponents against the board. Instead, I stayed three feet away from the boards trying to work the puck out. That is just lazy in my opinion, and it doesn’t give you a good chance. Yeah, you have more control of your stick, but you lose the ability to use your feet to move the puck. I need to go in, and make some contact with the opponents to move the puck, and stop being afraid.
Still down by one, I again covered for a pinching d-man. The puck got around me and I didn’t skate full speed to recover it. As a result, the opponent chased it all the way down with me. And as a result, I had to crash into the boards to get to the puck. Had I skated hard the whole time, the opponent wouldn’t have had a chance. Either way, I still won the puck. The problem is it remained in play. I threw it around the boards, and some how it came down to the slot. Unfortunately, I again didn’t skate hard enough to cover him and the center was able to chip it in. The second goal I felt was my fault. While it was frustrating, I still tried to play shift to shift, and tried to make the best of it. The problem is, this time, when I crashed into the boards trying to recover the puck, I went funny into the boards. It was a lot like when I hyper extended my knee, where I spun around really fast with all of my weight on one foot. Luckily it only “shocked” my ankle, and it only bothered me for another shift or two.
In the second period, I played more of a solid period effort wise and results wise. We were still down by one. At one point, I found myself skating too hard, and found myself below the goal line. I’m a winger! Why am I under the goal line in my own zone!? I hustled back up to the point and luckily I wasn’t burned. I kept coming down too low tonight, but after I noticed this, I did a better job of just covering my man. It was a good thing too. Towards the end of the second, I got the puck at the top of the faceoff circle in my own zone. Normally I would play it safe and just try and chip it out of our zone. But I had time. I didn’t panic. I skated with it, and was able to get past the first d-man. The second d-man caught me at the red line, and was able to disrupt the break out, but still, I would never have dreamed of even trying that even 4 months ago. I’m gaining confidence with the puck.
It reminds me of something I was told very early when I started playing on ice. Look! Don’t just throw the puck away. You’ve probably got more time than you think. It is better to lose the puck in a fight, than it is to just throw it and give it to the opposition.
In the third, we were still down by one. I’m getting pretty nervous about losing the game, and the d-man keep jumping in to the play. Again, I’m on the blue line, covering for a d-man who went in on the rush. Then I noticed the other d-man went into the play as well. Why is the winger the only one standing on the blue line? Oh well. The puck came out to the blue line and I just flipped it on net. I don’t have a big shot, and I was somewhat off balance (like always) so it was stopped well before it got to the net. It didn’t bother me because when I play defense, the only thing I care about is keeping the puck as far away from my goal as possible. I stayed on the blue line as the other four skaters were working very well in generating chances. The one d-man came back out and played on the right side, so I was able to shift over to the left. The opponent tried to flip it out, but I was able to stop it, take a look and give it to the left winger. It ultimately lead to the goal that would tie the game.
The team would go on to win the game. I think everyone had a big part in the win tonight, from the talented guys with big shots, to the guys still lucky to stay balanced on their skates like me. I felt though that my effort wasn’t all there tonight until late in the second. I had no points, but in theory helped out on a few goals I kept it in on the blue line, I screened a goalie, but I also was partially responsible for a few goals going in on our own night. I walked way with bumps and bruises, and I’ll be feeling it going into the next game which is tomorrow, but I still have to be better. I have to keep balance but most of all, I have to give it my all on every shift.