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.