Sunday, October 20, 2013

2013-10-20 Red Stars vs. Coyotes

This year my role on the Coyotes is a lot different than it was the year before. I have a bigger part in the team's success, and getting more from the players. I look at some of the other guys I've played with in my position, and I drew a little bit from each in terms of what I should do and what I shouldn't be doing.
One was be flexible, because there are always game time changes. While I was originally supposed to float through the lines, but instead, I had to take one of the left winger's spots. I wasn't anticipating something like this but I felt comfortable in doing it. I feel I could play any position on the Coyotes and be effective.

I started out really strong. In my first shift, I did things that I've only done in practice. Not only did I do them this time, I did them well. I got the defender moving, stopped, went the other way, stopped, and then went the other way, eventually getting around him - carrying  the puck into the zone and generating a scoring chance. I felt like I controlled the play at the time because I had the puck for so long. It felt good. But perhaps I liked it a bit too much. I was told that I had my head down a bit, and missed an open pass to the slot. Once I was told that though, I looked for it, and I hit the guy with great passes.

I did a really good job on the goal line extended, driving it to the net, getting the puck in high scoring areas. As a result, I had a handful of shots, and came away with two assists for the night. The first one I thought was my goal. I picked up the puck in the corner and drove to the top of the crease. I picked up my own rebound and put it home. Somehow the other winger got credit for it. The other assist was a pass from our blue line, into the neutral zone as the right winger was breaking up the side. He had so much speed that he didn't have to do anything to get past the defense and hammer it home.

I did make a few bonehead moves. I did an aggressive drop pass at the blue line that went no where, and created a chance going the other way. I also felt that I came down too low on defense a few too many times.

I was pleased with my performance. Two assists is a good night at any level. The Coyotes would win 4-2.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Squirrel's Personal Season Preview 2013-2014

I look back at my last season, and I almost hit every goal I had for myself. I became a point per game player on the Piranhas, won a championship with the team. I developed my speed, and confidence with the puck. I created something that resembles a scoring touch (I can say that because I've scored a goal that wasn't on a rebound!). Perhaps most importantly, I developed my stability on my skates. I no longer fall when someone brushes against me. I kept my attendance up all year, didn't hit any big ruts, stayed healthy and made it to Toronto. The only goal I didn't hit was the Coyotes in Toronto. I know I pulled my weight when it was on the line for that one. What I didn't anticipate is a divisional shake up that made it significantly more difficult to get there. Therefore I call last winter a success.

This summer though, I didn't progress the way I wanted. Personal issues made it difficult to focus and prepare. I know that it I'm not out of the woods with it yet, ut I feel like I'm on the right path to regaining that focus. But this summer wasn't a total loss for me. I saw a ton of ice time with the Piranhas, and pickup skates. I additionally skated with the Grim Reapers, a team in a much higher division. Perhaps the best thing I did this summer was add strength and cardiovascular training to my week. I go hard when I do them, and I feel stronger and more confident than ever. I have this indescribable intensity and blood flow when I'm there and I know it has spilled over onto the ice.

I have an idea of what can happen this year. I believe that I will take on a bigger role on both the Piranhas and Coyotes. These will be more difficult years for both teams, it will be more difficult for me, and I think it is a good thing. When I hit all of my goals, I often wonder if I pushed myself enough. It won't be that way this year. I'm ready, I feel great, and I'm eagerly waiting the season to start.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Piranha Season Preview 2013-2014

Of the last 4 possible championships, The Piranhas have won 3 of them. Our winning percentage this summer was above 90%. The team has gone to Toronto, made it to the semi-finals and then was eliminated by a team from Chicago in a higher division, yet we did skate with them. It is hard to say that the Piranhas have been anything but successful lately.

This year the Piranhas have added 2 very experienced players, and a promising young defensemen. It is no surprise that we've moved up. Additionally, the league has combined divisions, so we'll be playing some very talented teams. I'm excited about it. However, some of the team is cautious entering the season. While no one expects us to win the same number of games as last year, most seem to be willing to give it a shot.

Already an established team, not too much has changed. We'll get our normal full time winter guys back, and the new guys are a welcomed addition. The challenges are bigger than they've ever been since I've been on the team. We're going to give it our best shot and see how it goes.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Puck Pros Session with Christian - 2013-10-15

It had been four months since I was at Puck Pros. When I saw that, I was disappointed in myself. I wanted to get there more. I wanted to be there regularly this summer, but the summer had me on the ice a lot more. Anyway, the past few visits, some of the messages were the same - get stronger legs. I decided to do just that. I started going to the gym and working on it. I have felt a difference.

Today I worked with Christan. It was a lot more different than my past sessions. Not surprisingly, we worked mostly on skating. But we worked on the core parts of skating that are used when you handle the puck, when you shoot, when you turn, and so on. To me these are the foundation of the game, and if you can't do it, you're not going to progress.

The weight transfer is something that I'm still not doing right, that I need to get down right. I need to take a wider stance, bend my knees and get low, and when I push off I need to straighten my leg that I push off with.

Perhaps the biggest thing Christan did for me was all mental. He called me a very "mono" player. I do one thing right at a time, and when I focus on something different, I lose the first thing. Bending my knees? Not going to do the toe snap. Doing a Full extension - not going to be in the forward push. I need to focus on pulling it all together.

The other thing that really helped me was seeing the state Christian was in. He wasn't his normal energetic self. He was in a calm mellow state, but when he'd talk about the game, when he'd see me improve, he'd show an incredible amount of passion. Later he explained he too just started going to the gym. And it made me glad, because I'm in a similar state as him. He's a little fatigued, but when that love for the game kicks in, he was ready. And the longer I've been going to the gym, the less tired I feel, but the passion only increases.

Three things to take away:
  • Weight transfer - Straighten my leg when pushing off, get low, wide stance, bend my knees.
  • When turning, with my inside skate, be on the outside edge - and align my feet versus putting them next to each other. 
  • Keep my head level when transferring my weight. It should go side to side. Not up and down.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Coyote Season Preview 2013-2014

Last season ended in a way that created a countless number of nightmares for myself and other Coyote players. We gave up the winning goal with just a second left in the third period. The ending could only have been more "storybook" if it was in overtime.

I think the impact of losing in that way is immeasurable. The body language after the game was as poor as I've ever seen it. The tone of voices in the locker room were depressing in itself. We should have celebrated though - we played incredibly well. We had never played that team so well.

Summer has come and gone for the Coyotes. Only four Coyotes said they'd play with the team in the summer. I was not one of them. The captain of the Coyotes would break his leg in the summer, and be out until February.

So there was a lot of unfortunate things that happened. This created a lot of uncertainty going into the season. Who will be captain? Who will our full time players be, who will be our subs, and will we add anyone new?

About a week ago, the decision was made to make me captain for game day activities - setting lines, running the locker room, etc. I accepted for a number of reasons - someone needed to do it,  I'm one of the guys with the most experience on the team, It'd be a good challenge for my people skills, and many other reasons.

Last year, there were times where I was almost bored on the blue line. I took a "hands off" attitude. I was quiet in terms of what we should be doing, and just let the team develop and work on what I wanted to work on for myself. Maybe that is selfish? I would help when asked in the past, but it won't be that way this year. I'll be responsible for helping get the most out of the team, and taking them to the next level. This is going to be my first time doing something like this, and I have prepared myself as best as I can for these challenges.

I think our biggest challenge will be our attendance since we don't have as many full time players as we'd like. We've also added a handful of players who we need to get integrated with the team. I want to get the team to the next level, and away from being just a beginner team.

There are lots of good and exciting challenges for the Coyotes.