Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Goaldiggers 2011-06-26

It felt like the team was ready to fold up before the puck would even drop. With it being an early Sunday game, missing our three strong centers on an already offensively challenged team was going to be a big problem. One of our stronger defensemen moved up, and a winger played back.

The game was only a total of 42 minutes, but the roller coaster ride it was for me felt like it was six different games. I played ok for the first handful of shifts. I got the puck out of the zone when I could, and I'd make myself an option regularly. I then hit a string of bad plays. I wasn't winning battles along the boards, I wasn't catching passes, I wasn't clearing the zone, and I missed the net on a gorgeous 2 on 1 opportunity.

As I was going through the second stretch, I was fine as it was just one or two mistakes. But as these mistakes add up, they cause scoring chances in the opposite direction. In a one goal game, if you can't be viewed as a reliable player, you're just a liability on the ice and you may as well get off. I cannot stand that feeling. I figured it was my lack of focus, but that just helped me focus on my mistakes more.

Somewhere near the start of the third period, I became frustrated. I was missing easy passes, losing easy battles, and I felt like I was responsible for multiple goals against. I couldn't remember the last time I played well, and I thought about how the Goaldiggers have not won a game yet this session while the Piranhas new season was around the corner and how their last season was 0-19-1. Frustration just seemed to peak. The next shift I decided I had to let some frustration lose. I'd forecheck as hard as I could. I'd hit the defensemen if he was going to get that puck. It didn't matter, there was going to be full effort from me no matter what. This caused more chances for me, and I broke up a lot more chances for the opposing team. I would back check hard and pin the winger along the boards on his rush. I'm getting bigger, stronger and improving my skating. I could feel it at this point. I had the energy that I'd expect I have from playing frequently.

I guess I frustrated the other team a little bit. I definitely felt more whacks, pushes and contact from this point forward. I think that only helped our team and me especially. When I'm getting pushed around, tripped, and such, it reminds me that I'm not going to get hurt. I forget I have pads on and how much of an impact they do take. I definitely get tired much faster when pushed, but it tires out the opponent as well. I'd say I'm in better shape than 90% of the players I play against. We would go on to win this game by one.

I felt the first part of the game I was a liability, and at the end I was a big asset. I needed a few shifts where I felt positive about them. I needed a victory, and so did the Goaldiggers. Confidence is key and it'd be nice to have it for a bit.

The Goaldiggers are off for a bit, and the next game I have will be the first Piranhas game of the summer.

Monday, June 27, 2011

3 on 3 Scrimmage - 2011-06-24

Another 3 on 3 scrimmage. I was foolish and stayed up really late after playing the night before. I didn't drink a lot of water, but I did eat well. I showed up, ready to go, and just felt tired and fatigued. Not having a regular sub really made me feel it.

I often forget how quickly players improve, and I've played with all of them before. Sure enough, they all seemed better than I last remembered them. Three other Piranhas were there, but two of them were playing goalie. Still, it is better than nothing. I'm getting concerned about their conditioning because as a team, we haven't played since March. I know many only play on one team.

While I jumped from side to side to keep everyone fresh, it was interesting to see how players work together. Two players were from the Mastodon, and worked incredibly well together. Well spaced out, good passes, patient. The other Piranha and I moved with each other well, but still struggled to make each other better. One player who I played with at this year's ironman tournament seemed to work well with me more than anyone else. I wonder if it is because were both inline hockey players before ice. Even though this was our second time playing together, we cycled well, we knew where to go for the pass, and in general read each other very well.

At the end of the night, I was tired. I still felt that I needed to get in better shape, so I skated around the rink hard for a few minutes. I focused on my crossovers and just bringing my legs back under my body so I could make longer strides.

Force / Mastodons Practice 2011-06-23

It had been a week and half since I last been on ice. The break was nice, but it goes against my recent ideals of play frequently and play well. Tonight followed the pattern. I practiced with the Force and Mastodons in HNA.

Watching the ice be resurfaced, I was quickly reminded that it was June and ice sucks from June to September. Bensinville is the worst of the worst. During warm ups, the puck was sliding like it was on smooth concrete. Even then still bumpy. You really had to work to move the puck. As the night went on that got better but holes developed in the ice. Good skaters would just fall for what just seemed no good reason.

The Force did a drill for about 15 minutes that I found confusing at first because it was a 3 on 2, with everyone wearing the same colored jersey, and I didn't know anyone, or the drill very well. After my third attempt, I did better but I dropped the puck a lot.

The scrimmage was interesting. It was clear the Mastodons were intense, which makes me wonder how they play in games. They played hard the whole night, and I liked that because they were the less experienced team. The force had a few players that could move, but I was able to keep up. I played center, which was nice because I had planned on perhaps switching there sometime down the road. I was so tired though that I couldn't keep up. The ice just seemed bad, and the Mastodon's physicality was just too much for me after not playing for a while. Several times I would try and stop but the ice was just so jagged that I couldn't get the blade over. There were multiple times that my laziness and poor ice just caused me to trip in addition to me not picking my skate up cleanly.

I wasn't going to play physical. Not when I'm tired, in something meaningless on bad ice. I was chasing down a puck and a Mastodon was going after it as well. I let up and let him pick it up. But when he went to stop, he went flying and dropped the puck. I took my time, picked it up and passed it to the winger who bounced it off the post.

It was a good workout because of my positioning, and how difficult it was to skate. It was a great reminder of what the Piranha's summer league will be like. I enjoyed playing against the Mastodons, and with the force.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Goaldiggers Game 2011-06-12

Watching the opposing goalie during warm ups, I knew we had a good shot at this game. While he was huge, he didn't move well, and was awful up high. The puck drops and we just looked sloppy. We gave up a few quick goals and were down 6-1 at the end of the first. I just think it was a lot of little mistakes that we could have prevented. I back checked at one point, to cover the center, but instead of picking up someone, I just stood in the slot and watched the opponent score. What was the point of me back checking then?

No one was playing well. We were making dumb mistakes and not sticking to the basics. As a result we got burned. After the first period though we turned it around. I had made a handful of good clears to just keep the pressure out of our zone. I felt I was moving well by then. At one point, I had flipped it out of our zone. The defensemen turned, was skating towards it and we ended up being side by side. As he was going to pick it up, I lifted his stick and pushed the puck forward. It went into the corner, and I had gotten there first. I saw both other forwards coming down and crashing the net. I put it into the slot for them, but there was no good scoring chance. I had the puck in the same spot slightly later, and without any options, I just drove to the net myself, and tried to stuff it in. We had a great scoring chance, but no goal. I had a solid screen on the goalie which played a part in a defensemen's goal. A third time in the corner resulted in me getting leveled by two opponents. Both were playing the puck, but I just stopped dead in my tracks. Got right back up, and kept playing.

We came back and tied the game 8-8. The team should be proud that they didn't quit. With my performance though, I felt I should have had better results. I felt faster than some of their d-man as illustrated by a few races down into the corner. My skating has gotten a lot better. I'm feeling more confident with the puck, standing in front, and taking contact. I still need to slow down though and take my time and look at what is going on before I move.

Goaldiggers game 2011-06-07

I didn't write about this game right away because I wanted to just get it out of my mind for a bit. Apparently, I was visually upset during the game, despite me not even remembering it less than a few minutes after it was well over.

We had two solid lines and two sets of defensemen. To me that means that I have plenty of subs. I felt going into the game it was a beatable team and I felt very good. I came out flying. For the first 10 minutes of the game, my line did an outstanding job of keeping the puck out of our own zone, and fore checking. Multiple scoring chances were generated by our line as a result of solid anticipation by our skaters and rushing the puck carrier. We still have a tendency to not read each other very well as we're still new but it will come.

At the end of the first we lost our best forward because of an equipment problem. There was a problem for the first 3 shifts of constantly questioning who is going where and when. I didn't skate full out afterward as we now had a short bench. I still felt like I was moving quick though. But our defensemen just got tired. We couldn't get the puck out of our own zone, and we couldn't gain control of it long enough to the zone after it was cleared. We didn't generate too many shots. I had one that went off the post and wide, and another where the goalie stopped it and didn't give up a rebound.

I look back and try and figure out why I was frustrated. I am honestly unsure. I felt I played well for me, and I'm starting to question if the team's talent is where I thought it was. Typically we play poorly after a long layoff like we just had, and without one of our best players, I'm not exactly sure what I was expecting. I'd say 75% of our goals come from two or three guys, so when we lose one of those guys, we don't generate any offense, any goals, scoring chances or anything.

Monday, June 6, 2011

3 on 3 Scrimmage - 2011-06-05

A friend had rented some ice at an undesirable time for most skaters, but for me, I was looking forward to it. 11:45 in the morning is a strange time to play, but ice time is ice time, and I needed the work. I got there early, and the ice was empty. I hit the ice before anyone else and focused a lot on my crossovers from the previous practice. I skated around the circles, and I was surprised at how quickly I was going. I'd fall occasionally from leaning in too much, but if you don't push yourself to the line and over, you don't know where the line really is.

I worked on my shot a little bit. Getting it off fast is a real problem for me and getting any elevation on it has become an issue as well. One out of five times I would get it moving well, but most times it felt like just a lob if I ever tried and lifted it. Something to work on.

We didn't have many skaters so we played 3 on 3 most of the time. We played with the nets in the middle for a while, which really forces you to start, stop, start again frequently. There isn't a lot of time for rest, and that's great for conditioning (especially because we had no subs). At the end, I was definitely feeling tired and you could tell everyone was the same way.

I felt I played well. My passes weren't as crisp as they have been in the past, but I did make some really nice ones. I felt I didn't have a whole lot of speed in that it took me a while to really get moving compared to normal. I'm not sure if I was tired, or the ice was just slow. It was nice to have the ice early to myself pretty much because I could take a lot of room to do whatever I wanted. I wasn't worried about getting hit with pucks, running into someone, or falling. We could have used more skaters, but what is done, is done. I should be good to go for the Goaldiggers game on Tuesday.

Practice and Drills 2011-06-02

I hadn't played in over a week because of the holiday weekend and I was under the weather. It was really unfortunate as I was playing really well. Playing multiple times a week seems to be a good way for me to keep playing well. When I was invited to a beginner team practice, I took it.

These practices usually feature a lot of drills, and those help me out a lot. I look at them as a way to focus on the basics and improve on specific aspects of my game that may only get used once or twice per game, making it difficult to get better. The first drill was a crossover and stopping drill. I felt crossovers I was fairly strong at, but stopping needs work. These crossovers are the ones though with just your feet, and I'm not any good at those. I really struggled with getting my foot over the other foot. It is strange because I feel my crossovers are fairly strong when I skate. This drill tore up the ice, so by the end of it, it was really difficult. We focused on tight turns, and using the boards to make practices. I'm not sure if I was just tired or something else, but I feel I didn't perform up to par on this task either. The puck would get away from me when I'd turn, my passes along the boards were soft, and my breakaway attempts were average.

The scrimmage I played ok in. I didn't go full out always as some skaters were still struggling, and I want their practice to help them get better. There was one skater who was smaller than me on nearly every aspect who did bounce off me, but he was arguably one of their best players.

It was a good practice for me after a week long layoff. Served as a reminder to keep playing