Monday, October 29, 2012

Coyotes (1-0) vs. Red Stars

The entire night was sloppy for me. I was exhausted from the Piranha game the night before, was unsure of how my defensive partner plays, and I was on the Olympic rink. It is a lot more different than I thought it was. I always remembered that the Olympic rink was a lot wider, but as defense man  that's a lot of ice to cover. It impacted angles greatly, and I can totally understand how it impacts goalies even worse.

I had a couple of times where I just messed up. I went to take a slap shot from the blue line and completely whiffed on it. I had another where I tried to kind of dangle around a player but I wasn't successful then either. There was one point where both defense men were on top of each other, and we miscommunicated who should go after the loose puck. It was just a tough night for us two to work together.

At one point there was a one on one play where the Red Star forward was coming down the ice on me. He didn't even make a move on me, and I just let him get by me. He wasn't fast or anything, but he eventually scored the goal. I felt like I let my goalie down because I just made a stupid error. It was the only goal we gave up. I think it was a result of just not being too into the game.

But the game wasn't all bad for me. I had a few instances where I carried the puck in and was aggressive. There was one play where I surprised myself. Players were stabbing at the puck, going to lift it and I was able to keep the puck away from my body, and use my leg to protect my stick and the puck. It always amazes me how effective that is.

I also had one play where it was a two on one, and I was on the rush with a slower winger. I went around the defender and kept one hand on my stick keeping it far away, and maintained speed. Once I got around the defender, I did a nice one handed pass to the other winger. He wasn't prepared for it, and didn't get as nice of a shot off as I would have liked.

It was incredibly hard to get into a rhythm this game for anyone who wasn't a forward. I had a ton of ice time, but I didn't skate much. The Red Stars had added skaters  in the off season, but are not in the same league as the Coyotes yet. A lot of the guys worked really hard battling against the wall, but the experience of the Coyotes, as well as the skating ability meant that the game would be played mostly in one zone. The Coyotes would win 9-1, while only giving up six shots.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Piranhas (0-1) vs. Knights

I watched the ice being resurfaced and just sat in awe as I watched the awful ice and puddles being left behind this giant machine. I told the players to wait to hit the ice since we still had plenty of time until the puck dropped. This would let the ice freeze over and make it just a tiny bit better. It is amazing how much it helps. But instead of waiting our player just took the ice like normal.

The first few shifts, I felt it was about even for both teams. But then the Piranhas started to just sort of take control. We maintained possession and it showed. I did a ton of work right in front of the net. The defense was doing their best to move me from in front, so much so that both forwards had seemingly infinite space. With 20 seconds left on the ice, we took a face off in their zone. We lost it, and it was cleared. Our defense men rushed down, and cleared the puck. I came down, and picked up the puck at the blue line. I felt like the period was over but I kept moving. I saw the center breaking down the middle. I stopped and passed through a Knight player and put it just on the end of his stick so he could keep skating full speed. He caught it, and put it top shelf just as the buzzer sounded. I thought it was too late but the ref counted it. We went up 2-0 at the end of the first, first assist of the season.

The second period resulted in increased possession, and strong domination of the game. We made good passes and even better line changes. I continued battling in front of the  net and racing to lose pucks. I would pick up the puck along the wall, turn and take it into the circle and hit the post. It bounced right into the slot, through the crease and allow me to get a great rebound chance. I would put another shot on net and then the center would pick it up, and cycle it while I sat in front of the net. There would be a shot from a bad angle, and I found the rebound and put it in. First goal of the year.

I had a couple more shifts where I was able to battle in the corners, and make some solid passes to keep possession. On one shift, the face off was in our zone. The center won the draw back to the defense men in the corner. I decided to break towards the center of the ice. I saw that there were multiple passing lanes open from the back corner to me and that the puck carrier had seen me. I continued to skate on the red line and wait for that pass. He made it and it was tipped by the Knight defense men  I stopped, went and picked it up and turned on the jets for a break away. Unfortunately I was tripped. It should have been a penalty shot, but I drew the penalty. The power play was garbage and there was no conversion.

I would later on be covering a defense man on the point. I would pick up the puck, walk it into the slot, and flub a shot. The goalie never saw it, and it went in for my second goal of the game.

When the team was up, they moved me back to defense for the final three shifts of the game. I liked it, because it was a better team than what I'm used to playing against, but it was hard to get out of the mindset of being a forward.

I would later have another assist according to the score sheet  but I'll be honest, I don't remember it. It would equate to my second assist. So a four point game in a 12-5 game is still very good for me, as I rarely ever have two point games. I'll definitely take it.  I felt like my game was average when I came off the ice despite the point totals. But overall, I can't think of a whole lot I would or should have done differently.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Coyotes vs. Bulldogs

So much happened this game that I don't even know where to start. The entire team had energy from the minute they stepped into the locker room, until the time they left the parking lot. Again it was a full bench, as I suspect it will be every game for the Coyotes this year. I will be plying defense. 
Right from my first shift, I focused on the things I worked on this off season, and it immediately paid off. The rink was still incredibly wet and trying to carry the puck or make a pass would not have predictable results. As a result, as soon as I got that puck, I put it on the glass and out the zone. I didn't even care that I didn't hit the winger with the pass. I iced it once, but again, we cleared the zone. Once the water was gone and frozen, I didn't have to do it any more.
After that, I had another shift or two where I was just kind of playing conservative. I didn't try anything, and I just kept it simple. There was one point where I was standing at their blue line, and had the chance to pick up the puck 10 feet in front of me, but saw that a Bulldog was close to it, so I let it go. I was then kicking myself. I knew that the team would work hard to fix the mistake if I made it. I knew my defensive partner would have covered for me. From then on, it was a different game. I carried the puck incredibly well, I got a few good shots off, joined the rush on more than one occasion, and I felt like I was never putting the team at risk for an odd man rush going in the other direction. The entire team built confidence in each other and it just snowballed. At the end of the first, it was tied at 2, but I felt like we were much better than them.
Once I got more confidence with the team, my goalie, my partner and looked at the situation, I wasn't afraid to fail. If I failed, it isn't a big deal. I took chances. I tried moves that I did in practice, and it paid off. Scoring chances, stuff attempts. Good quick shots all helped generate something for the Coyotes. I was thoroughly impressed with how the team moved the puck. I had at least three good shots on net, no assists, no goals, a decent hit, and I feel that I played as well as I could have asked. I did make some bad passes though, and I'm not worried about them. 
Confidence is so huge. Being able to take the skills I worked on this summer, and use them in the game means so much to me. So many little things happened this game that worked for me, and I can't write about them all. I don't think there was one shift that I would consider "bad". The next Coyote game is Monday. I'm excited.  The Coyotes would win this one 7-2.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Piranhas vs. Mastodons

First game of the season for the Piranhas, and I'm really not nervous about it. The Mastodons though were the worst possible opponent for us. I know they play hard at all times, and they practice regularly. There is no way that this team would not be in shape and prepared for the game.

The Piranhas would have as full of a bench as I'd have ever seen. Warm ups were a huge problem as it was difficult to find space to actually warm up. I tried doing some passing drills with another skater at the red line, but still no space.

My first shift was not a good one. One of the d-men pinched,, and I went to the other side to cover for him. Sure enough the puck comes to that side, and the winger has more speed than I do and I knew I wouldn't catch him. I'd try to put a shoulder into him and stop him, but instead I missed and grabbed him. I took the interference penalty. First shift of the game. We'd take a couple more penalties, and end up being down 4-0 just 12 minutes into the game.

Despite the full bench, I was fairly tired. It has been about two months since I had any sort of real scrimmage on a full sheet of ice, let alone a full game. I still had speed at some points. I did handle the puck well a few times, and looked for some great passes despite not connecting. I had physically beaten a much bigger player in the corner, which caused not only a solid scoring chance, but we maintained possession of the puck and eventually scored a goal. I wasn't aggressive as I would have liked, and as a result, I felt as if I was ineffective. I wasn't covering points, I wasn't helping the defense men out. I was doing a crappy job of taking away passing lanes.

I'm going to focus on being in better shape and having targeted aggression next game.

The Mastodons would beat the Piranhas 6-3.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Stick and Puck - 2012-10-20

I hit the ice and for the first ten minutes I felt like garbage. It felt like no matter what I'd do, I'd just stop. I couldn't move well or turn at all. I tried to do a tight turn and then my skate just dug in and I fell. I had a feeling it was going to be a bad day on the ice. I went to another skater and asked if he wanted me to feed him some passes. That felt really good. I feel every pass I made was exactly where it needed to be. The last batch, I worked on a saucer pass.

From there I worked on just carrying the puck and making tight turns while carrying the puck. Keeping my knees bent, staying low, and keeping the stick away from my body so that I can actually handle the puck instead of just slap it around.

The goalie I work with was with was then ready to take some shots. I felt that the first 10 shots were very quick for me. I got into a good rhythm shooting, so much that he had to slow me down. I kept moving back, and from about 30 feet, I feel I'm fairly accurate. Forty feet is a different story. I felt that I did get better with accuracy as the session went on. The shots that were accurate weren't as hard, but accuracy is important to me.

My arms got tired, and then we split up, and I went back to working on my skating and stick handling. I fell down again later, but this time it was because there was a puck under my skate.

This was my last session on the ice before the season starts. This is the first season/session that I really have no nerves at all. I don't feel a big pressure on me to play well because I'm holding back the team, or concerns about just fitting in with the rest of the team. I suspect that the success of the Piranhas season last winter is the cause of it. It doesn't mean I can relax. The other teams are younger and getting better. I feel I'm already better than I was last year by how I worked this summer. I focused more on precision and intensity than endurance, and it shows. I've made changes to my skating, I've made changes to my positioning, and mindset. I feel more of a two way player than last year  where I felt more like a hack.

When I got home, I got a haircut, a clean shave (I considered starting a beard last week) put in a new visor, and packed up the Piranha jerseys for tomorrow night.  I caught a nap, and I'll get a great night of rest tonight. I know I'll play well tomorrow. I'm very excited.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Winter 2013 Season Preview

The Winter season is less than a week away, and I'm feeling more prepared for this season than I have in the past. A big part is that I am taking a load I know I can handle. I feel that in the past, I may have taken on a bit too much. Last year, I played for the Goaldiggers, Piranhas, and subbed on the Coyotes.  In December and February, I was really hurting. I was not letting myself get enough rest. This year I will be playing on two teams - the Piranhas and the Coyotes.
The decision to leave the Goaldiggers has been one that I spent over a year thinking about. I like the guys in the locker room, and they were my first team. I learned a lot playing with them but I ultimately did not belong in that league. I appreciate them taking a player on who had no experience playing ice hockey, but as the team has gotten better I have become frustrated with myself in my lack of contributions. Additionally, both the Piranhas and Coyotes are much lower in terms of skill. They both are part of HNA and as a result, scheduling conflicts are a lot less likely.


Last year, I believe I played in five games for the Coyotes. I have gone to many of their practices, and worked with their goalie a lot. The decision to play with the Coyotes full time allows me to play at a lower level of players, along with close friends. The team is relaxed, and ultimately fun to be on and around. There are only two other teams in the same division as the Coyotes, and I feel that those two teams are beatable every night. I will be playing defense for the Coyotes as well, giving me a bit more responsibility in the break out.  The Coyote season really excites me because I feel I've never had gotten to develop chemistry with any of the players on the team in game situations. I never learned players tendencies or preferences. I've spent some significant time in the past month or so on skills that benefit defense men directly. Things such as skating backwards with control, putting the puck on the glass high and hard, and transitions do not seem as shaky or even impossible anymore. The Coyotes have no reason to not be optimistic about having a good season, and going to Toronto this year.


Last season was mostly a positive one for the Piranhas. After we were correctly tiered, we went somewhere around 10-5.  We would make the playoffs, and then win the championship for the division.
It felt good to win a championship like that. It was my first championship anything - basketball, hockey, etc. I never did a lot of sports, but a few years playing inline hockey, and then when the Goaldiggers started, we lost our first 12 games or something.

The summer wasn't as friendly for the Piranhas. Attendance issues, merged tiers, and a few bad bounces would lead the team to be 3-7.There was very little turnover from last winter to this winter. We have a new goalie, and a new skater who is very talented but rusty. I will still be playing wing for the Piranhas, but perhaps some center at times as I took the middle of the ice quite a bit in the summer. I really enjoyed the position, but I do need to get more familiar with it. As a wing, I feel that I can be one of the stronger players. I don't score goals very often, but I do feel myself making an impact out there. Defensively I feel I'm one of the stronger wingers. I disrupt the opponents break outs, and kill penalties fairly well. I'm getting better at reading plays and picking off passes. I have enough speed to back check and get into the play as well.  For the Piranhas to be successful in this new tier, players will need to step up their game. I will need to improve my skating, stick handling and positioning. I will work on these things throughout the season, but I do believe that this team can compete in the higher division with the right attitude and commitment from the entire team.