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.