The day was hot, the air stunk, I had a bad day at work, and I had to pee the entire game. It wasn't a good mix. The team wasn't really ready for the game either it felt like. No one had any jump or was excited to play it felt like, but I'm wondering if that is just how the Piranhas are even when things go well.
The ice was awful. We played the entire game, and there were spots that were still wet at the end. Everyone had a difficult time skating, and it was just slow out there. At one point, we were lining up for the faceoff, and the guy I was lining up next to came skating over and fell on his own because he hit a hole. The referee looked at me like I tripped him.
For the past month, I've been playing right wing. I've been playing well there, and tonight I wanted to try my luck on the left again, as that's where I usually play. The first few shifts felt like a disaster to me. I wasn't moving my feet, no backchecking, and when I did get a chance to shoot, right into a skater's pads.
The Piranhas did an excellent job of keeping the puck inside their zone, but our forwards just could not get the puck off the boards. When we would, the Sharks would just throw it out. They had two solid skaters who would pick it up and figure in on all of their goals. I was getting frustrated because not only was I not playing well, the team just seemed disinterested. I knew that for me to make an impact, I'd have to work hard and earn a scoring chance. I picked up a rebound on the goal line, with no chance to put it back into the crease or slot. I took my time, and went behind the net. While I was, a defensemen followed me back there. I was faster than him, and I got in front, and used him to lean on, and turn back in front. His stick came up, and I would lean even harder so that the ref could see he was hooking me. I kept moving my feet and pushing into him. The referee saw the hook, his arm went up, and I turned the other way to get away from him and get a little bit more time.
Later on in the game, I'd draw another penalty. The puck came out into the neutral zone to a player going for the change. I knew his style well, knowing he was going to pass to me. I skated hard into the zone, but I felt I had to slow down as there was no pass, and the blue line was coming quick. I thought I had crossed it when I look and there is the puck to my left. I pick it up one handed and before I know it, there is another dman chasing me down. I attempt to lean on him as I drive as hard as I can to the net, using my body to protect the puck. I saw the goalie go down with an opening inbetween his legs. I one handed it in the direction of the gap, and in the process, I got tripped up, and hit the ice. I hear cheering from the bench area, so I wasn't sure if it went in, or the goalie made the save while I crashed into him. I knew it couldn't be goaltender interference as I was tripped, and the arm went up before I made contact with the keeper. But that pass that was made that generated that opportunity was outstanding. I couldn't believe I wasn't offside.
But the game wasn't all great moments. It had a lot of stinkers too. I had multiple opportunities where I shot it right into the defensmen's skates on a scoring chance instead of going around him. I had a shot right in the slot, didn't get enough stick on it, and put it dead into the goalies chest. I had multiple scrambles where I could have put the puck in, but was just out of energy, outworked, or flat out missed the puck. There were a few times where I tried to use my body to stop the puck from leaving their zone, and it just went right through me.
However, the best shift was me on the penalty kill for a little over a minute. I had a significant part on 3 clearing attempts. One, I was just skating in the neutral zone with no pressure. Instinct usually kicks in and tells me to dump it, but when I didn't feel pressured, I held on for a few more seconds to kill time. The best was when I was able to eat up about 10 seconds in our own zone. The puck went into the corner, and the defensmen down. I hustled in, and kept it along the wall for quite a bit working against two other players, while slowly moving it up the boards. I saw the other forward near the blue line, so I would try and lift the stick, and kick it past him. It worked, and it was cleared. After that, I was tired and came off.
We lost 6-2, and although after the game I wasn't happy with my performance, it really wasn't that bad. I'm not going to blame the ice. I'm not going to blame the weather. I did make solid plays, and work hard. I noticed an improvement in that I was able to protect the puck with my body. Just need to work on my focus.