Sunday, July 29, 2012

Piranhas vs. Chaos

When I was told who I was playing with for the night, I was fairly excited. The left winger, I've played with a lot in the past and really like playing with. He's smart, and plays a defensively responsible game. If we end up on opposite sides, he's smart enough to recognize it and stay on the other side. The center is a very intense player who I haven't played much  with, but I have played against at a few scrimmages.

The first few shifts were mediocre. We weren't doing well, but we weren't doing bad. Then we had one solid shift where we generated a decent scoring chance. From then on, it snow balled. We really started to click.  I tried to really up the pressure on my fore check since I had the legs to do so. Their one d-man did not like that, and had some interesting words for me. After that, I had an extra gear, and played extremely well.  I was able to use my speed in lots of situations. Especially on the face offs. Multiple times I was able to beat the opposing winger to the puck off the drop, and pick the puck up and skate away with it. This lead to puck possession time for the Piranhas. At one point in the offensive zone, I picked up the puck off the draw, and no one was moving, and I've got a clear shot at the goalie. I back handed it without even looking, trying to catch the goalie off guard and I did. Unfortunately he made the save.

As the game went on, our line generated a ton of scoring chances. Our speed and patience would cause us to win battles to loose pucks, make crisp passes, generate traffic, and regain possession.  Our line had at least one goal, with the left winger having a really nice tip right in front of the net.

I had one play coming down the left wing, with two d-men in front of me. I watched the closer d-man try and stop and start to come towards me. I immediately cut to the middle and saw a shooting lane open from 30 feet out. I fired it and hit a post.

Then we had a small parade to the penalty box. It wasn't an easy kill for me as we were always scrambling. I tried to stay on the points, but there was just so much room to cover, and passing lanes open, that I was just scattered. Shortly after that, the play returned to even strength. But it was clear that the Chaos had the momentum. Trying to get something going, I somehow ended up below the goal line in the defensive zone. I lost the puck battle along the wall, but I saw who beat me, and it was the same guy who yelled at me earlier. I played that much harder because of it. I was able to tie up his stick, but then he broke away again. I instinctively gave him a one handed shove from behind. He fell and gave up possession. Once the piranhas got possession though, the whistle blew and I wasn't surprised that I was called for a penalty. In my defense, I did cause the Chaos to take at least 3 penalties. I got a cross check off the face off, a hook, and I believe an interference.  All of them (except the hook) were soft calls in my opinion, but the refs were calling everything.

I ended up back on the PK. We were in our box formation, and my other winger blocked a shot and it bounced right up the middle. I was alert, and jumped on it and had a clear break away. I had it from the red line in. That's a lot of time. I knew what I wanted to do. He was far out so I was going to fake left, and skate to the right and just skate around him for a poor angle shot. I totally dropped the puck and didn't even get a chance off.

I had a few more solid defensive plays where I disrupted the rush by back checking, or taking away lots of passing lanes. I had used my stick more than once. Towards the end, there was another penalty called on our team, and I'm killing again. I was able to pick the puck up in our zone, and I saw that the dmen were backing up. I turned on the jets and they just continued to move back and let me enter the zone. I couldn't understand why they would be so conservative when they were down 3-1 with 2:00 left in the third period. Then I saw - they pulled their goalie. I went around one of the dmen, and fired it at the empty net. I missed wide by about a foot or two.

The Piranhas would go on and win the game 4-1. I would have loved to bury my chances, but I didn't this game, and compared to recent games, I laughed these off. I enjoyed the game and the competition. There were lots of Chaos sticks flying everywhere, but it was expected. They use their sticks a lot more than most teams. Our line played very well and I felt great. I am very pleased with how I played, and how the team played as well.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Piranhas vs. Mastodons

The combination of an early start time, and rink location made me get to the rink later than I would have liked. I rushed to get dressed and out onto the ice. I still got a full warm up though, but probably didn't need it as we only had six skaters.

Six skaters the entire game vs. a full bench. It is really tough to win when you're in that type of situation. The opposing team knows they have every advantage possible in the energy field. They should never lose a battle along the boards, and they rarely should lose a battle to a loose puck. It burns lots of energy, and when you're short on skaters, it is difficult to do.

Believe it or not, I controlled the first 30-40 seconds of the game. Our team won the face off, and I was able to get the puck into their zone, and get two shots on goal. If we can get that lead, it sets the tone for the rest of the game. Unfortunately, I did not score.

Shortly after that, I had a REALLY good race from the red line into their zone for a dumped puck. I felt we were going too fast for control, and I didn't want anyone to get hurt or hit, so I let up, and told him to take it and he's save. He gave me a good shove in the opposite direction once we got closer to the boards. I didn't appreciate that too much.

From there, the game just went down hill. I skated as hard as I could, but I burned a lot of energy against guys who have fresh legs. It got a little chippy and angry once the opposing team started to celebrate after their fifth goal while we were still at zero.

At some point, I was still going hard, but my team mates were low on the tank. You'd try to throw them a pass, and they wouldn't have the energy to catch the pass and skate with it. I was yelling for dumps, so I could race these fresh players, but it just didn't work.

I skated hard, played hard, and had a good hit. I won multiple board battles, and generated at least 1/3rd of our team's 19 shots. I have no complaints about my performance in this 0-9 loss to the Mastodons.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Piranhas vs. Grizzlies 2012-07-02

The first game of the Piranhas' summer season. 10 regular season games with the same core that won the championship just a couple of months ago. I am really looking forward to it. Some guys are less reliable in the summer time, the ice is usually crappy, and it is less intense because there isn't a chance to go to Toronto. But staying in the parking lot after the game for a few hours is probably the best part of my summer.

I played center this game. I don't ever play center. I want to as I feel I should have the endurance to back check and I always try to play defense. These are all qualities of a good center in my opinion. Additionally, centers take the faceoff - something that just comes with time. In the past when I've played center, I've lost every draw, and I think tonight was no exception. The good thing though is that at the end of the night, they weren't winning the draw clean every time. I tried tying up the stick and just leaving the puck there for a center to come and take it. For smaller centers, I tried to just skate forward and push him away from the puck. Anyway, I need to learn how to take faceoffs, and I hope at tomorrow's Phantom Skate that I can get some advice.

I also didn't do as well as I would have liked in the defensive zone. I think I collapsed too low, acting as a third defense men. I should have stayed a little bit higher in the slot, covering that. When the opponent has the puck along the board, I need to take away passes. I didn't do that until near the end. Playing defense as a center is also different in that when the opponent skates into the slot, you never have the boards to help dictate where you want the puck carrier to go. Making him go left is bad, going right is bad. It is tougher to play physical as well because you don't have the boards there.

I did take away passing lanes though. I know this because I had about five pucks go off my chest, skate, stick, etc. And once I would get the puck, I tried to take my time and make the right play but twice I just lost it because I took too long. I think that may be part of the rust I had from not playing on a full sheet. Instead of looking for a pass, skate it. I have speed. I need to use it.

I did better as the night went on. And I think it is because of my positioning, and I wore myself out a little. The first 5 shifts, I didn't stop moving my feet at all. Even as I was stopping I felt like I was trying to move my feet to skate in the opposite direction. In the third period, I had a goal. With about 30 seconds left in the powerplay, the forwards dumped the puck in to the zone and went for a change. I got off fast, skated down into the zone, intercepted the pass at the blue line to keep it in. No one was around me, and I had a perfectly clear shot of the goalie who wasn't ready. I tried to lift it and just get it to the net. PING, left post, PING right post, and then it fell behind the goalie. It was an awesome shot and by far my prettiest goal. If I did not bend my knees more when I skated, I don't keep the puck in the zone. If I don't pull my lower hand up closer to my top hand, I don't have as hard of a shot.

The Piranhas lost 3-9 to the Grizzlies. I had one goal.