Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Piranhas vs. Mastodons 2015-06-23

During warm ups, I felt like I was moving better than ever. I was low, quick, going left and right well. I couldn’t handle the puck at all, but that’s nothing new. My mind was so focused on the game, and I was so well prepared, I knew I would have a solid effort. I was going to be the third line out. The first two lines were dominated on the ice. It made me a little concerned that the two stronger lines were not controlling the play better. I jump out onto the ice, receive a great breakout pass from my winger. I bring it in, and end up going into the corner with the puck. I had the puck on the wall for a good 10 seconds. Going left, look up, I have nothing. Back to the right, and I look, another opponent. Can I go backwards and into the slot? That crosscheck from behind tells me nope. 

The game went on a lot more like that. I played extremely well on the wall. I was very strong on my stick and played the body well along the wall. The Mastodons are a big team who play a more physical style of hockey, so they’re prepared for that sort of play. That though drains you a lot faster. It definitely impacted me in the second and third periods. In the defensive zone, I found it harder to go into the corners and put pressure on the puck carrier. I had a few shots on goal. One was on a power play where I carried it through the middle, used the defense men as a screen, kept going as fast as I could, got around the defense men, picked up my rebound and shot again.  I would up with four shots I think, but only one that was really solid.

I liked my game. Conditioning needs to come back, but it will quickly.  I only made maybe one or two mistakes, such as a softer pass to enter the zone that got picked off, or miscommunication with my line mates. 

The Piranhas would win 4-3 in overtime.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Grim Reapers and Aces scrimmage

The Reapers and Aces invited me out to a scrimmage to help evaluate a newly formed team. I was asked to play defense, which is something I haven’t done much of in almost two years. New skates, and just a new mindset would make it very different for me. But I did it, not knowing about the team I was playing against. I recognized a few players but not all of them.

I started out a little shaky. I broke the chin strap on my helmet, which threw me off my first shift. But as the night went on, I felt much more comfortable attacking as a defensemen. I had this speed and trust from my forwards that I could take it in, get the puck to the net, and then come back to the blue line before the opponents could regain possession.  I think it is because all night the forwards kept giving up the blue line and coming back when I’m used to a more aggressive fore check.

My positioning needed work. I need to remind myself as I play on the blue line that I need to stay within the dots, and that there isn’t a third guy in the middle to help cover it. I need to push players to the outside, and not give so much space towards the middle of the ice. I did better with that as the night went on.

I am happy with how I played. I had a little rust but it came off quick.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Equipment Changes for Summer 2015

Evaluating new stick options.
This off season has been the most difficult one I’ve had. I believe it is probably the longest time wise, and there has been a lot going on away from the rink. It has been difficult to plan for anything really with so much in the air. The result is a lot of “day of” plans for preparation. Still, there is no excuse for not being prepared for the upcoming summer season. I like to use the off season to try out some new things and become more comfortable with changes.

Last season, I couldn’t be more pleased. I set a personal record for goals scored, I feel I helped my team defensively and stepped up in a variety of other areas. Toward the end of the season, I got sick. I lost a lot of weight. The last game of the season, my pants were too big, and I had to tuck my jersey in slightly different. I got my stick caught in my jersey at one point. These things never happened before. Additionally, over the course of the season, I broke a couple of sticks.

Lots of time spent on the bike.
I attribute a lot of my success last season to the added strength from previous seasons. I spent a lot of time in the gym and on the bike to make sure that I was in the best possible condition. This off season, I continued the work in the gym, and have focused on adding even more strength this off season. I needed to gain back the weight I lost during the season (18 total pounds, 12 just from the illness at the end). That is a high percentage of my body weight. I’m pleased to report that I’m putting up my own personal records in the gym regularly. People have noticed that I’m visually looking bigger, and I’m back to my target weight. The problem is that I do have some equipment that is still a bit loose. I’m making the adjustments still, and will continue to do so as needed, but I don’t anticipate any major changes in equipment I wear for the summer.

Left is my regular length. The right is my new experiment.
As I mentioned, I broke a couple of sticks over the course of the season. All of my sticks have been set up the same way. I really like the 2012 Easton Mako E7 65 flex stick. They’re incredibly durable, light weight, and couldn’t be more perfect for me.  I’ve used Easton sticks since before I made the transition to ice. I’ve tried Bauer, Warrior, and RBK sticks and I’ve always found something I did not like. Sticking with the stick is an easy choice, but Easton has not made a stick I like since 2013. They’ve seem to fallen in love with rocker patterns, and grip finishes. Easton discontinued my pattern, and I’m running out of backups. I’m considering making the jump now to the Bauer Nexus 8000, and just getting it over with.  I’m also experimenting with shorter sticks for better puck control. I’ve taken old back up sticks that I would never use them in a game, and used them in scrimmages.  It is forcing me to bend my knees more, stay lower, and that’s what I need to do anyway. The verdict is still out for what I do with the stick.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Summer 2015 Teams

This summer I will play on two teams, the Piranhas and the Moose. I prefer playing on two teams, but haven’t done it as much as I’d like in the recent years. Playing on two teams helps keep me building my endurance. When I’m on one team, it doesn’t happen as fast. And there is no substitute for competitive games.

There was never question about playing with the Piranhas this summer. I expect another fun season, with a handful of new players. We had a few players drop out at the last minute, but the majority of the team is returning, and that makes me happy. I’ve played with the Piranhas since January 2011, and 70% of the team is the same since then.

The Moose is a new team being formed by a few former Piranhas, and is targeted for a lower division. There is a lot that goes into forming a team, and placed in the right division. I was shaky about joining them because on paper, it isn’t exactly what I wanted in a second team. My reason for joining this team are the players I know on it already. There’s quite a few good guys in the locker room, and we’re anticipating a fun time as well without a lot of stress.