Thursday, August 25, 2011

Broken Sticks, Holes in pants and more

I like my equipment. The problem is I bought it 8 years ago, when I was 6 inches shorter, and I didn't buy the greatest stuff. I wasn't sure if I would get into hockey, and I wasn't sure what I'd like. Consider this, I bought it, and it took me 5 years to actually start using it. My shin gaurds and elbow pads have been used for inline, but my pants, and shoulder pads were not. My helmet has been replaced, and I've gone through a few pairs of gloves.

I look over some of my equipment and soon I'll be dropping a few bucks to replace it. Last game, I broke a stick, but that is ok as I have a few more left in my closet that I still can use. My pants are starting to fall apart and get holes in them.

Other pieces are showing wear as well, but nothing needs to be replaced immediately. I just hope it all doesn't break down in the same month so it all has to be replaced at once. The nice thing is, I now know what I like, and will spend a few bucks to get better equipment than I did a while back.

Piranhas vs. Grizzlies 2011-08-23

Tonight, the Piranhas had a different look. A few of our regular players were missing, and a few guys from past teams came back. It resulted in me playing with two players I've never played with. It was clear right off the bat that we were going to get our chances. We had a good mix of styles and passed the puck well.

On the first or second shift, I got cross checked in the arm between where the shoulder and elbow pads meet. A few days later, I still have a nice bruise. A shift or two later, we had a great scoring opportunity. With me and the center right on the doorstep, we both got chances. The center had the first rebound attempt that went off the goalie's stick. My backhand shot would hit the post and bounce behind the net. I came back to the bench knowing I would have nightmares that night.

We continued to work hard and I felt our line had an easy time exiting the defensive zone because we were a little bit faster than the defensemen. But toward the end of the first we were just getting tired. Only having nine skaters will do that to you.

In the middle of the second period, the center would shoot it right off the draw. The goalie kicked into the corner, and the defense was clearly unsure of what to do. I was able to race into the corner, pick it up turn and look. They were unsure who was supposed to cover me, so I had a second to take a look. I saw the other winger just sitting at the top of the crease. I passed it as hard as I could past the goalie and put it right onto his tape, giving him an easy tip in goal. That was how it was all night for us. We'd get chances right in front of the goalie, and made the most of them. At the end of the second period, I would hit another post from about seven feet out that came back out into the slot, but we lost control.

We'd go on to let in some goals that shouldn't have gone in. This frustrated me and the entire team. I believe the combination of us not playing together regularly, and only having nine skaters contributed to this part of our team's performance.

By the third, I was exhausted. I felt better than I did last week, but still wasn't 100%. I had a hard forecheck that would result in me capturing the puck, but with no options on where to go, and no energy, I gave up control myself. I'd also have a small break away, losing energy at the blue line, but I took my time, and focused on taking a correctly placed shot. Unfortunately, the goalie would put his glove on it.

I noticed with the Piranhas that I get the puck below the goal line a lot. When this happens, I always pass. I go right into the slot, or occasionally a defensemen. But it never provides solid scoring chances, and often times, it causes the puck to quickly leave our zone and cause odd man rushes against us. Tonight, I had this type of situation. There was no reliable pass, and I noticed that I had no pressure on me. Instead of taking the pass, I walked right into the crease and just tried to stuff it home. It didn't work, but we got a decent scoring chance.

Midway through the third I would have another backhand attempt, similar to the first one I had where I hit the post. I got a good shot off and I didn't hit the post! Instead I hit the cross bar. For the third time tonight, I hit metal. It amazes me that I hit metal so often. I know when there's no goalie in net I aim for the posts, so I would think my shot is decently accurate, but still, you think I'd be able to hit the back of the net.

In a face off in their zone, the center lost the draw, but the puck just laid in the circle. I stepped in front of the defensemen and blindly backhanded it towards the goalie, knowing that it would at least get there. I look up, and see it in the back of the net. Of all the chances I had tonight, I'd say this is the one that should not have had any chance at going in, but it does. That's how it works some times.

We would lose 5-2 or something like that. I had an assist and a goal. I had multiple scoring chances. I'm learning more about the Piranhas weaknesses, and adjusting my game to compensate for them and it is working at times. I'm pleased with how I played. I should have had at least one more goal though. The ice was a bit slow, but way better than last week to me at least. What is clear is I need to be in better physical condition for when the team is shorthanded, like the Piranhas always are.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Rat Hockey at Seven Bridges - 2011-08-21

After my disgusting play with the Piranhas on Wednesday, which I suspected it to be from lack of playing regularly, I knew I needed to get a good skate in. For the first time in a while, I decided to lace up my skates at Seven Bridges.

The rink has holes in the roof. This makes the ice the best in the winter, and awful in the summer. Today was no exception to the rule. There were a lot of players from the college a few miles away, and they're always really good players, and recognize the struggling players and work with them. It is nice that they don't go their hardest at players like me.

At one point, one of the more talented players was coming down against me. he made some ridiculous move that when I tried to lift his stick, I just fell over and embarrassed myself while he went and scored. I rarely ever play D, so I'm learning what to watch with the player and looking at his stick to determine where the puck will be.

I had a few chances that were from long passes and speed, which helped me, but they gave me those opportunities.

Most of the time we did 4 on 4 with no subs, so it was a good skate and it wore me out. I used to be able to do that without stopping. Now that I haven't been playing as much, I can't. Either way, it surely will help my endurance.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Piranhas vs. Maroons 2011-08-17

I talked about routines and how important they are I had off from work on this day, so I had plenty of time to go through my routine. In fact, I got to the rink an hour before game time. I got there and the ice was ready. It looked great. I took my time getting ready, and hit the ice. I focused on just putting the puck in the right spot and shooting correctly.

The game started, and I felt awful out there. I had no jump to my game, no energy. I would skate my hardest down the ice, and I was still getting passed by players I felt were slow. I would try and stop, try and do a quick turn, but nothing. I'd get passes, and couldn't do anything with the puck. I felt so slow out there, and I wasn't the only one.

I'm still learning a lot about the Piranhas, and what we do when we're successful. I know one thing I do well is fore check hard, and force the defense men to make a long pass. This spreads out the play. It does not work well with the Piranhas. We end up giving odd man rushes. I may need to learn to play more conservatively with them.

I felt there were a lot of mistakes on my part. I dropped a lot of passes, and missed a lot of players I should have covered. Lots of work to do, starting with no more long layoffs.

Coyotes Practice 2011-08-13

It had been over a week and half since I had laced up my skates. I was excited as hell to get on the ice. I knew I'd be late, so missing my normal warm up routine would have to do. I joined in the drills early, trying to focus on my skating stride, and doing things correctly, rather than quickly. I was more focused on my technique than actually beating the goalie, or anything.

It caused a lot of trouble. I focused on my skating stride, getting accurate shots, and it isn't what I'm used to. Bending at the knees, griping the stick lower down is what I'm supposed to do. It just takes getting used to. It did help me lift the puck better. It did help me increase my speed. What it did not do is help with my turning. It'll just take getting used to.

The scrimmage did not go well. It felt like everyone was standing still to me. No one was moving their feet - including me. When I'm a guest at a team's practice, I like to make sure that the team gets their practice and chances, but I couldn't help out anyone. It felt I was invisible because everything was moving so slow.

So I felt I didn't work really hard, it was more about technique and looking. I need a lot of work there, so I think it was a decent practice for me.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Goaldiggers vs. Chicago Blue - Playoff Round 1 - 2011-08-02

Playoffs! I had to skip a Piranhas game to play in the Goaldiggers first playoff game this session. Again with a short bench, and against a team with a decent record, we'd have to work hard to get a victory.

All night it seemed I was always playing against giant defense-men who could move really well. What did surprise me was they weren't as physically strong, or didn't use all of their strength against me. More than once I was able to pin their bigger guys against the boards for a few seconds. I wasn't playing the puck at all because I knew I couldn't control their body and play the puck at the same time. What I didn't do was call for help in this situation. I just assumed it would show up, but it did not, and we would lose those battles.

Several times I was able to skate the puck out of our zone, and push the defense-men back. Once it generated a decent scoring chance, and the other, I blew a great opportunity for the player coming down the wing. I knew he was coming, I heard him calling for it. I knew he'd be alone, but I didn't look and put the pass 10 feet in front of him. I was kicking myself for that.

I think the short bench really hurt our team. Guys were taking 3:00 shifts. I understand they feel fine, they're trying to give more rest to the guys on the bench, but most of the time, players are ready after just a minute of sitting. I can play the entire game without coming off. I've done it before, but I didn't play hard or effectively in those games. When I don't play hard, I'm useless, so why do that? Unless we had an issue where we didn't have enough guys to come out for subs, I changed every minute like I normally would. I was also ready every 45 seconds of rest, just like a normal game. I can't play 2:00 shifts hard. When I can't play hard, I get off the ice.

I'm also noticing a small trend in the past couple of games. I'll be turning, and just lose an edge. Am I leaning too much? What am I doing wrong? Maybe a recent change in my skating stance/stride?

The opponents generated all of their goals on shots from in the slot. There was no real rebound goals. It was just a simple pass from the corner into the slot and in. Their defense-men would jump up into play constantly and burn us. Our team has had issues with this in the past. It was hard to get the puck out of our own zone, and made us so tired that we couldn't generate any real shots. We'd end up losing something like 5-2, and being eliminated from the playoffs.