Sunday, February 19, 2017

Biohazard and Piranha Weekend

I started off playing defense for Biohazard. We had 7 skaters for the game. I played really well. I figured I was going to play the whole game because of the few players, and conditioning our players, but I was probably on the bench more than most. That’s fine because I got to go all out when I was out there.

I made a few good passes, but a lot of what I was doing was getting the puck out of the zone. I’ve really started to like using behind the net. I would pick up the puck, take a quick look, and launch it into the opposite corner. As the game went on, I gained some more confidence, and really started pushing it. I would jump up on the rush and help out. Other times I would stay back and be a bit more conservative. I did better as the game went on. I would read plays in the offensive zone, and pick off passes. It was just natural to me. I would pick up the puck off the boards regularly, and just make a subtle move from side to side and shake an attacker. It was weird being able to dance through players.

In the second, I would intercept a pass at the blue line. I took a second to look on who to pass to. The corner? Covered. Across? It would get picked off for a rush. In the slot? Too much traffic. I took a small step in and saw a big hole for the goalie. I leaned into it and shot top left corner. The traffic in front distracted the goalie and I saw the net jump and knew it was in. Felt awesome. It gave us a 2-1 lead, and in the third, we mostly clogged the neutral zone and just kept it out of our zone. It ended up in no goals against, and we’d win 3-1.

Sunday night 9 skaters against a team we can beat, but we had only one of our regular defensemen. I jumped back and pulled back someone who I’ve played with D before as well, hoping to reignite some chemistry there. In the first period we were probably outplayed. But we outlasted them. We just needed some time in their zone, and fast because our blue line was getting tired. We had a guy show up late and it helped a ton. That’s when we started really getting moving.

I made some silly moves to start the second, such as changing on a 3 on 1 against. But then I calmed down. I had one great shot from the blue line off the face off that was just a couple of inches off the ice, hoping that someone could get there for the rebound, but it went between the goalies leg pads and just bounced a little bit for an easy cover for him.

I started jumping up on the rush to get 2 on 1s, I carried the puck end to end, looking for passes, and it worked because of our short bench and our centers would stay back. After the game, one of them said to me they were happy to do it because they were exhausted. Playing defense with one other full pairing is actually a less intense night than any night I’ve had with the Piranhas or Biohazard this season. Or maybe I’m just in better condition than I’ve been all year.

All night, I knew who was coming at me, and their strengths. It is an advantage of playing the same teams and players every year. I know their tendencies and what is coming next, so I like to use that to my advantage.

In the second period, I would jump up on the power play, get in real tight, and see no options to pass or shoot. I saw a winger joining me getting close. I put a low shot on, hoping for a rebound, and sure enough the rebound went right to the winger, and he didn’t get all of the puck, but just enough for it to gently slide across the line and in. I was thrilled for the guy to get his first goal in a while.

We’d go to overtime. 40 seconds into overtime, I stood up a player carrying the puck. I just stopped and he ran into me. I got called for interference. I’m still not sure why. I took my time getting to the box, hoping to run out some of the penalty because it was running clock, but the time keeper wasn’t running it. It is one of those gamesmanship things you do. If you can make the actual play time of being shorthanded less, then you do it.

We killed the penalty, I jumped on the bench, and then our goal scorer would assist on the game winning goal to another player who hasn’t scored much lately. I was thrilled for both of them. I was happy for the whole team since we won last week too, and it has been a while since the Piranhas have won back to back games.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Biohazard - 1 Healthy Scratch - 8

I have been getting to the rink later and later lately, so I made sure I was on time and got a full warm up. I needed it since I would be using a different stick than I’m used to. It is shocking to me how much different the stick can make a difference in how I feel the puck.

I switched back to an old Mako I had from 2012. I wish they still made this stick. I bought a bunch because I liked it so much. For the last couple of years, I’ve used a Nexus, which is a great stick as well, but the curves were slightly different. Combine that with I had chopped off an extra two inches from the Nexus, and I had a hard time carrying the puck. But that’s to be expected.

After the first period, I started getting used to it. I caught some passes that I thought I’d miss, and I also made one play that I need to use more. When I pick up the puck along the board, turn toward the center of the ice and bounce the puck behind me to protect the puck and allow me to turn and go. I’ve done it a few times, and was able to pull it off tonight.

I felt a little out of shape, but was in position for the majority of the game. During the third period, I was able to out muscle one of their defense men along the boards at the blue line. I got the puck into the zone, and just out of their reach. I kicked it forward about 4 feet, and knew I’d be alone if I could pick it up and cut across. I did just that. I put my hardest shot on net, and it went right into the goalie’s mid section.

I’ve noticed I do a lot of fly by on my fore check. I’ll skate hard, swipe at the puck and hope to deflect it or pick it up and skate on the rush. I did this tonight, and the defense-man missed his pass attempt and the puck just sat there for a good two seconds.  I felt foolish. I’m going to start stopping in front of the defense-man on the forecheck because I know I can take off quicker than most.

Where I was pleased was on the face off dot. I have been more attentive taking drops, trying to focus on winning it instead of just tying up the opponent. Still, that is partially a team stat. I told my left winger that I was going to try and win the draw over to him, so he needs to cut in for it. I won, cleanly only to see it slide through his legs, and he didn’t even have his stick on the ice. This caused a large amount of frustration for me for a variety of reasons, but I tried to remain focused and positive.

I did make some good passes, and handled the puck much better as the game went on. I also feel I didn’t get outworked at all, which is always a plus for me.