Thursday, September 29, 2011

2011-2012 Winter Hockey Teams

Winter is here, and that means it is hockey season. Ok, when is it not hockey season for me? But what it does mean is new seasons for all of my teams. Summer sessions are over. No more hanging out in the parking lot after games, no more awful ice, no more early games.

Let's do a run down of the teams I'll be playing for this winter.

Goaldiggers - Since spring 2009, I've played wing with these guys, and have learned a lot. They are the first team I played on, and I had only been on ice a handful of times before joining. I'm still at the rock bottom of the depth chart, and that doesn't bother me at all. I have however gotten better, and I'd argue the most improved since we started playing together. The games are tough, fast, and always contain a lot of talent.

Piranhas - Since January 2011, I've played wing for this team. I joined them mid-season because they had a lack of skaters. I remember the first game we had, there was only 7 skaters I believe. The team is struggling in the standings area, but most importantly, the team's morale and commitment has improved greatly since I've joined. While I feel I'm near the middle in terms of statistics, I believe I can move up here with some hard work and focus.

Coyotes - After practicing with this team many times, I've decided to jump on board with this team as a sub. Why a sub? Playing on two teams while having seasons tickets is hard enough. It is unfair to commit to them knowing I will miss a lot of games. Additionally, it is unfair to my other teams to miss even more than I currently do. The plan is for me to play defense mostly for this team. They're an inexperienced team, and I will be one of the more experienced guys out there. However, this allows me to help round out my game. By moving to defense, I become more solid myself. It is a new challenge, and I feel I can really help out.

So three teams is going to be tough, but I'm up for it!

Goaldiggers Game - 2011-09-27

I kind of forgot about this game. I've had some other things going on that has prevented me from focusing a lot of energy on hockey, and that includes my blog. I have played more than a few times since the last post, so let me give you a quick overview of those. I had a good game with the Piranhas that we lost by one to be eliminated from the playoff race. It was also our final game of the season. I had a fair game for the Goaldiggers, but had some difficulties adjusting to the speed since I haven't played with them in two months. I had a good practice with the Coyotes.I had my skates sharpened at 3/8" this time and love it so far. I also took one of my chipped up sticks and painted the bottom black for a variety of reasons.

So as I stated, I didn't think about the game too much until about an hour before I left. I saw their line up, and they had a full bench of guys in my age range, meaning it was going to be a long night. To make it worse we had 8 skaters.

I tried to keep my shifts short, just because I didn't want to get caught if I could prevent it. I think the team did a good job of doing this as well considering we only had 8 skaters. We gave up two bad goals early, but for the most part, we dominated the game. Rarely did the play come into our zone.

One key part for me this game was I didn't panic with the puck. I would pick up the puck, and I took my time. I would look, and if I didn't see anything, I'd carry the puck. This is something I rarely do that I'm quite proud of. The only time I did panic was off of a face off in our own zone. We won the draw, the puck came to me and I just fired it down the ice to get it out of our zone for icing. The exact same thing happened a few seconds later, but instead I carried it.

I tried to keep pressure on the opponents the whole time. During a back check when going to lift the stick of the puck carrier, I missed, and got his skates. He went down, and the penalty was called. No arguments against it. It was a good call.

At one point I found my self playing defense while the d-man pinched. The opposing winger was coming up the middle with the puck, and judging by how he handled himself, I pinched on him. It worked out well. I was able to keep the puck in at the blue line after a good battle. Once I gained control of the puck, I was off balance, and knew pressure was on me. After a quick glance for options, I threw it right at the net through my center's legs as a screen. The goalie stopped it, but it generated a good scoring chance from just inside the blue line.

I also made a great soft pass to my team mate who was rushing up the side boards when entering the zone. I had three guys between me and the slot, saw him coming up with some speed and just softly threw it in front of him, for him to pick up and drive to the net. It generated a scoring chance, so I was happy.

My game was very good tonight, and I cannot think of one real negative part of my game. The Goaldiggers would win 6-2, proving that I cannot judge talent.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Piranhas vs. Grizzlies - 2011-09-07

Last game, I lost my temper. I wasn’t happy with how I was playing, I wasn’t happy with our team work, or how our team was playing. For a game that really has no meaning (I’m never going to play at a high level, so who cares), I took it way to seriously. Earlier in the day before this game, I was reminded of that. I didn’t think about the game at all during the day. In fact, I gave serious consideration to skipping it.
I went, and I’m glad I did. Playing helped relieve stress that I had acquired since the last game. I was thinking about how I can mess with the other team rather than all of the bad things that happened throughout the day.
The Grizzlies had some big guys and good skaters. They also had some weaker skaters who were more like pylons, and did a lot of stick work. In the first period, I gained the puck in the neutral zone. As I was skating through the neutral zone, I felt one of their sticks in between my legs. As it was bouncing around, I felt that was an opportunity to either get his stick out of his hands, or draw a penalty. I made a hard left turn and pumped my legs to move forward as fast as I can and get the stick out of his hands. I couldn't keep my balance, but I drew the penalty. In second period, after a battle down low, with the puck in the neutral zone, they tripped me. I felt that was a weak call, but we’ll take it.
I had chased down the puck several times into the corner, but kept getting out muscled, and not getting control of the puck. At one point, I did gain control and had plenty of time to look and make a pass. I looked at my team mates, and didn’t see any options. I didn’t want to create an oddman rush going the other way so the pass to a d-man was out. I made a quick pass right into the crease, hoping that my center would pick it up and get a rebound, but it didn’t work out.
I had a couple of good forechecks where I was able to disrupt a pass, and put a lot of pressure on players. Once or twice, I was a bit too patient and didn’t get the puck out of our own zone, but it was better than just a blind pass.
In the third, we were up and wanted to make sure we put pressure on the other team. The rink was wide open, and that allowed me to put a lot of pressure on the d-men. It really caused them to make poor decisions. Bad passes were made, I was able to deflect a pass near the net. In the neutral zone, I was able to pick off a pass and I had a breakaway from the red line in. I could feel the players behind me, and I was more focused on them than the goalie. I was focused on moving forward as fast as I could, and I was lightning down the ice. I think a lot of the Piranhas didn’t know I had that speed. But 10 feet in, I realized I wasn’t going to get tripped like I thought I would, so I had to do what I had to. The goalie was all over, and shaky. His legs were wide, so I just gave a tap forward to go through the 5-hole, and he was able to get his stick on it and knock it away.
I needed this game. I played well, and with the last game as well as things away from the ice, It really helped me stay positive. I’m glad that the Piranhas got a victory. We deserved a lot more than what we got last game, and deserved this victory as well.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Piranhas vs. Knights/Chaos - 2011-09-01

I was more prepared for this game than any game in the past 2 months. It is the nice part of late night games. You get to spend time with the dog, get a nap in, eat correctly. With 12 skaters, I knew I was ready to have a big game.

Unfortunately, I can't remember specifics of how badly the rest of the night went. I know that I had a great scoring chance in the first few minutes of the game. I had the puck below the goal line, walked in front, and slipped it right past the goalie. I don't see it for a moment and then I do, in between the goalie's legs. I push it forward without touching the goalie and lost it again. I see it on edge right on that line, but some how it didn't cross. Perhaps I wasn't strong enough in my attempts to get it to cross the line, but I'm not going to hit the goalie with my stick for a goal.

From then on, not a lot of good happened. While backchecking, I got lacidazical and let a player score uncontested 5 feet from me. I had a hard time getting the puck out of the zone. I tried to bump up the intensity a little bit for myself because of how I was playing. I had a solid forecheck, but they were easily able to clear the zone. I had jumped back on D while the dman pinched in. I recognized play coming back, and moved back. At the blue line, I tried to force him off sides, but he went around me. I continued to pressure him down into the corner, where I eventually started to lose steam. So I leaned on him a little to lose his balance and slow him down. He went down to his knees and I got a checking/roughing penalty. The opponents scored.

A couple of team mates noticed I was upset after the game, but haven't had a chance to talk to them yet. I'll talk to them tonight. I know I was very upset last night, but when I have all of that energy, and nothing I do works, and we're a better team and more talented, it becomes a problem for me and I get angry.

The positives are that I did move really well - a lot better than I have in the past. I got a decent scoring chance, and we as a team came back and tied the game in the last few minutes, despite losing by two.

Coyotes Practice - 2008-08-28

The last few Piranha games, we've been short on players. I decided I better start getting used to playing on the Blue line for the good of the team. The Coyotes are a team who struggle offensively, so playing defense in their practice would be ideal. We worked on breakouts, and I acted as a fore checker. I'm already fine with this, but it was nice to get some practice on skating back hard, turning, and playing defense one on one. The bigger drill for me was a triangle passing drill. It really helped me with my positioning and anticipation of a pass. Racing down into the corners, and then trying to get the puck out is more exhausting than I remember from previous times on the blue line.

Skating backwards and stopping are two weaknesses of mine. When going forward stop decently on my right foot, and I'm very hit or miss on the left. I think I found part of my problem today. When I skate, my left foot is always on an angle, where as my right foot is always strait. When I go to stop, my foot isn't square, and as a result, I can't push off on it. Without visuals, I cannot explain it correctly, but as I fiddled with the position of my left foot, it helped.