Monday, October 31, 2011

Goaldiggers vs. Chicago Blue 2011-10-30

Not to thrilled about playing, I headed to the rink. Maybe it was my long weekend, crappy weather or sore back. I just wasn't excited. The team was better than last week because we had 10 skaters opposed to last week's 9. Additionally, we knew this was a team that we had the potential to beat, and have beat in the past.

I think I had my best first period ever. I had energy, took my time and was solid on the fore check. Defensively I felt I did a good job too. Most of the night, I had this big d-man near me. He wasn't heavy, but he had to have been about 6'6". It made it difficult to get pucks past him because he had such a long reach. I remember anything I'd throw even remotely near him, he had the potential to knock it down, or did knock it down. I put pressure on him whenever he had the puck and learned he wasn't an agile player, and couldn't handle the puck very well. I would disrupt him, and cause him to rush his pass, and it created good opportunities for our team. They had another defense-men who was smaller, and had similar issues but was a better puck mover. The best chance of the game for me came from a hard fore check behind the net. The d-man threw it up the boards and it just caused a little havoc. It caused some scrambling in the neutral zone, and a d-man jumped up in to the play. I called for the puck in the slot, knowing I was wide open as both d-men were on him on the wall. He put it toward the net, and I had two or three good knocks at it. I was standing in the paint, and the d-man lifted my stick so hard that it spun me around. It was a great chance but no luck. It amazes me how big the crease is when you're standing in front of it, but how small it is when you're moving even remotely quickly.

One part of my game I think I struggle with, and so do some of the other Goaldiggers is moving in our own zone once we have the puck. Typically I stay on the wall and look for a pass standing still. I've been trying to move towards the net and get a better angle for a pass. I'm trying to pick the right times to do this so we can generate more chances on the rush by getting behind the -man. At the same time, I have to watch to make sure I get back if there is a turnover. It worked a couple of times tonight, so that is something to be very positive about.

At one point we had a bad change where players were changing with the puck in our end. I saw the pressure on the d-man, on the left side, and even though I was right, I raced as hard as I could to the left to help out. He got it about 4 feet from the blue line and then I tried to get it out from there. I was able to use my speed to knock it out of the zone, and create a rush. I didn't take my time though. As soon as I could, I shot it thinking I was about to lose possession. I got back to the bench, and the center said I had a good extra second or two more.

I loved my game tonight. I had energy, I disrupted their breakout passes, and helped our team get the puck out of our zone. I think the breakout part is big as I feel useless most nights in this area. For me, I think that will help the team out a lot in the future. Even though we lost 5-3 or something, there were still lots of positives to take out of it.

Goaldiggers vs. North Stars 2011-10-25

I got to the rink a little later than normal, and was the third one. I was concerned that we'd have to forfeit. We ended up having 9 skaters - a trend lately for the Goaldiggers.

Well, it wasn't pretty. Our team was just flat all night. Forwards weren't back checking, players were bunching up and playing on top of each other. It was just bad all around. I felt like I wasn't skating well. It felt like I had to skate twice as hard to go at my normal pace.

It felt like any time I'd have a puck come by me I was off balance, or I just couldn't reach it. An example was I was in a turn, and I was leaning on my stick to make the turn faster, but then the puck came by me, I couldn't do anything because if I moved my stick, I'd fall.

Once it was 5-0, I felt I needed to skate as hard as I could. Fore checking spread out their team a bit, but we just didn't have the energy to take advantage of it more than once or twice. I had one shot off the rush where I took a hard shot (slow for normal players), hoping for a rebound, but there wasn't anyone there. I tried to gain more confidence with the puck, and try different things at that point. I think total we had less than 10 shots on the other goalie, so we really had no chance the way we were skating.

It was a long game.

I wonder if I eat enough food during the week to play? I remember when I was playing well a month or two ago, I was eating fast food a lot more frequently, and the past little while, I've made some changes in my diet. Maybe I'll eat more bacon during the week.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Piranhas Game - 2011-10-23

First game of the season for the Piranhas. I'm excited, and I've got a great attitude about it. Not only do I expect myself to play well, I'm thinking the team will have a good season. A few new players, and a few returning players should mean that we have a full bench every night, which has been a huge problem since I joined the team.

My defensive game last night was very strong, and probably the strongest I've played. With the exception of my first shift, I couldn't have played defense any better. Our team took a lot of penalties, so I didn't get a ton of time out there, but my one shift on the PK, I did very well. I was able to throw a hit, I deflected a shot out of play, and I didn't get too excited, skating all over. I probably had two other hits as well that were solid at different times of the game.

At one point off of a face off, the guy I was lining up against was determined to not let me in closer than him. Eventually I noticed he was leaning on his stick right on the face off. I lined mine up behind his knowing he wouldn't let me in front, and right as the puck dropped, I hooked his stick away so he'd fall on his face if he wasn't ready. He fell, and he cried about it to the ref.

The defense men would sneak into the slot all game. I was very careful to cover them. As a result, they never really got good scoring chances while my line was on the ice. I also don't think we had a goal against, but I could be wrong. I had a couple of good exits from the zone and made great passes to the center and wingers that generated good scoring chances. But other than that, there wasn't a lot of chemistry between me and the rest of the line.

The previous day, I had been practicing my stick handling with the dog in my living room. I'd use my body to protect the ball, and play keep away from him. I'd spin, throw it through his legs, etc. It was also what I worked on in practice a week ago. It paid off. Twice I used my body to protect the puck. At one point, I did a small spin move, and got a good shot on goal, but the goalie saw it the whole way.

Not too much else stands out. We lost 4-1, and didn't get a lot of shots on net. There was no traffic in front of the goalie, and we just couldn't keep the puck in their zone.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Goaldiggers vs. Raiders - 2011-10-18

I felt I got better and more effective as the game went on. Our opponents were much bigger, and more talented than us. They had a few guys who were just amazing skaters and stick handlers.

My entire first period, I felt I wasn't going to be effective. Twice I was just outworked on the boards, either because I was pinned against the boards with ease, or they were just more talented. We went down 2-0 really early, and team morale just kind of dropped. I was fortunate enough afterward, to draw a tripping penalty when racing for a loose puck along the boards, but I think on that power play, they scored a shorthanded goal.

In the second period, they started to let up a little, as they were up 4-0. It was clear they were going to beat us, and they just let us take possession off the face off. I tried to just play my best and keep going hard, despite the score. I focused on playing defense, and covering the point better. A few times I had came back faster than the other forwards so I was in the slot. I had a decent break up in the slot. I was able to make a good saucer pass across the ice on the break out to the opposing winger that surprised myself. Another surprising area was when I was covering on the blue line and able to break up the play. The practices with the Coyotes apparently payed off.

In the third, I had my best period in a while. I was able to skate around a player a couple of times. I was still a little cautious around the boards and in the corners. I think maybe next practice I have, I'll practice racing to the board, picking up a loose puck, turning and looking for options. At one point in the third, I had a breakaway from the blue line in. I was trying to read the play and saw the play so I was able to get behind the defensemen, and receive the pass. Unfortunately, he caught me, and I didn't get a shot off. I had a good scoring chance when I was able to intercept the pass from the goalie behind the net. I knocked it down, picked it up and tried to do a wrap around and put it into an empty net. The problem was that I was on my back hand and had little control. It didn't bother me at all but had I been in my forehand, it would have.

So after being on the ice for the second time in two nights, I'm exhausted and sore. I'm not sure if all of this post makes sense or is coherent, but it is what it is.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Chris Imes Practice - Skating Review - 2011-10-17

It is no secret that I've not been thrilled the past six weeks with my performance with the Goaldiggers. I suspect that it is because I haven't been on the ice more than once a week lately.

As a result, I decided to head to Center Ice, and attend a class with a few other Coyote players. The class was run by Chris Imes. I've heard about his classes, but don't know much about them or him.

I loved that he had a mic on, and I could actually hear him. Usually I can't hear anything but loud noises, making it hard to do the drill. His drills were great as well. They were unique, and enforced what he wanted us to work on.

The session I attended was working on skating, something I could always use help on. I was exhausted after a few minutes, but that's expected. I still have a long way to go to get used to stopping and turning.

Tight turns was something I'm not strong with, and one area we worked on. I sometimes just don't feel comfortable putting weight all on one skate, but this is practice.

At the end, they had us scrimmage. I played defense for most of it because I wanted to get used to the blue line. I made one pass where I got lucky. I threw it across the ice to the opposite board way up high. As I was releasing, I saw the forechecker jump up and try to intercept. It is one of those things where you know it is a disaster about to happen but can't do anything about it. Luckily he missed the interception.

I got hammered from behind, and I was not a happy camper about it. It was the definition of from behind. Luckily I was away from the boards, and I didn't get hurt.

The entire time, neither side scored. The buzzer rang, and he gave everyone one more shift. I didn't skate hard on the blue line so I decided to skate as a forward. We took the puck out, and I darted over to the left wing as the puck went behind me. The winger gained the zone, fired low and I was able to hammer the rebound home from the crease. It was just positioning on my part. The winger deserved the goal.

I felt I did well. I got some good experience on the blue line, got burned a couple of times, and know better now.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Goaldiggers vs. Chiefs 2011-10-08

Tonight made me appreciate matching jerseys. Typically the Goaldiggers wear blue, but tonight, our opponents had blue, and we switched to nearly every color of the rainbow. Very frustrating to me, but no big deal.

The team we were playing against were a little bit lower than Piranha level, meaning they really had no chance. The problem is, the Goaldiggers saw that they were by far more talented, and played down to their level. We got lazy, made bad passes and bad choices. As the game went on, we did get smarter, but still made stupid mistakes.

The team decided to use this team as a way to get in shape and practice smart decisions after the first period. The team never practices together, or has really strategy talk, so this was a good practice for us.

I tried to get back to skating like I used to, where I would fore check as hard as I could. It had mixed results. One play I broke up their pass, another resulted in a great stretch pass, but one resulted in some contact. I had gotten off balance some how, and ended up just kind of tripping over the defensemen after he made a pass. I didn't fall but I stretched my neck out pretty good on his body, and it is still sore 36 hours later. I also focused on staying on the point better and not going down so low in my own zone.

At one point in the second period, I was a part of a good cycle. Five or six times we were able to pass the puck along the boards, into the slot and generate some type of chance. I was set up in the corner. We tried to get that going again, just as a practice, but for whatever reason, it didn't happen.

The game reminded me of what it is like to play against less experienced players. I have to play more cautiously for my own safety. Players having less experience make strange choices, and can ultimately lead to injury. A prime example happened in the third. I had picked up the puck at the top of the circle. I went in slowly to try and look for a spot to pass to. I heard the defensemen say that someone was coming, and made my choice right then. As I was releasing the shot, my stick wasn't lifted, I wasn't bumped, or anything I was expecting. No, instead I was tripped from behind as the skater slid on the ice and took out my legs. I assume he was back checking hard, tried to stop and tripped. Not a dirty play, but something you have to be alert for. Playing on the Coyotes, this is something I will have to keep in mind.

I had one assist on a goal off of a face off, and a few shots. The Goaldiggers one 10-3 or 11-3, something like that. We could have easily run up the score, but we were more or less playing keep away at specific times in the game.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Goaldiggers vs. X-Men 2011-10-03

The Goaldiggers had one more player than we did last week, which makes a big difference. Still, we had players playing out of position because of it. We were playing against a beatable team, but for some reason, we just don't beat.

In the first period, the team played very well. The passing was good, and everyone was in the right areas. We generated a lot of chances just as we entered the zone. At one point we had a 3 on 2, with me down the center, and the puck on the left. The puck came back to me, and I flipped it towards the goalie, through the defense men. The right winger was able to pick up the juicy rebound and pound it home.

From then on, I don't feel I played as well as I could have. Every time on the face off, I was out muscled to get to loose pucks. When I did gain possession, I didn't really generate anything.

I feel I did well on board battles though. There were a few times where I was able to pin the player along the boards and allow a team mate to come in and pick up the puck.

I didn't skate as hard as I should have. I just didn't have the energy to do so. I hadn't been on ice since our last game, so I definitely wasn't in shape, But I feel I should have still been able to skate harder. I just felt slow all night.

A bigger issue was I was no where to be found on the breakout pass. I believe this is partially because I was tired, but more so because I need to have better recognition of where I should be.