On Monday of this week (St. Patrick's Day, as a matter of fact), Al and I went down to Logitech Ice in San Jose to see our new team for next season play in their final game of this one. (Well, it turned out to be their final game.) It was a playoff against the Cougars, a team that Hoche, GG's captain, told me GG had a long history with. Apparently four of their playoff meetings have been decided by an overtime goal and/or a shootout.
We arrived toward the end of the first period and spent the first few minutes figuring out which players we knew. We then tried to picture ourselves playing with the team, and imagine how well we'd fit in. I remarked to Al that while the individual skills of the GG players were about the same as what we were used to at Ice Oasis, their team play was better. They passed more (and *looked* more before passing), and they really seemed to have a game plan. I found the prospect of playing as a team really exciting; I actually value that more than winning, though playing as a team often *means* winning.
The score was tied 2-2 when we arrived; I believe the Cougars scored the next goal, but it was quickly answered when Lisa Kvarda, my old Spitfire teammate, grabbed a loose puck in front of the net and flipped a backhander past the goalie. She and her twin sister Karen really do shoot well, and with confidence. I'll be happy to skate with them again—I'm hoping some of their confidence will rub off on me.
I really thought Gang Green played a better game than the Cougars, but the score remained tied into the third period. This rattled the GG gameplan, I thought; in the last two minutes of the third period, there was lots of clearing-the-puck-right-to-the-other-team instead of agressive skating. Both teams seemed to be playing not to lose rather than to win. The five minutes of overtime was similar, though GG stepped up the pressure and had several very good chances on net. Unfortunately, nothing went in, so at the end of the overtime they moved on to a shootout. Even more unfortunately, it was no contest, with the Cougars' two shooters scoring and the Cougars' goalie making two saves.
After the game we chatted with some of the players we knew, and I got to meet Hoche, whom I'd only talked to via e-mail. I also assured Inga that there would be many Gang Green-related entries to come in this journal. :)
I can't wait for the new season to start!!
Tonight Al and I are going to the public skate at the Bridgepointe Ice Center. This is turning into a regular gig for us, part date night, part hockey training. We've noticed that it's not so much that the exercise gets us in shape (sometimes we barely skate above a mosey), but rather the feeling of constant motion that prepares us for games. Constant motion is what hockey is all about—something that's too easy to forget. I often catch myself standing around on the ice when I should be shadowing an opponent or getting open for a pass.
That's the other thing about the public skating/constant motion thing: to keep going around the same circle over and over from getting boring, I sometimes break into a sprint or practice skating around the other patrons as if they were orange cones (i.e., not letting myself pass more than one person at a time on the same side). This helps me in games because going from slow glide to top speed and skating in traffic become intuitive. I actually think it would be more helpful if the other patrons skated *at* me, but I don't want to be a jerk or scare anyone who can barely stand on skates by going in the opposite direction.
Posted by Lori at 6:35 PM
We had our last game at Ice Oasis last night, though I'm not sure you could call it a game. Neither team's goalie showed up, so Bobby from the Blue Martini team stayed on (and played better than in the previous game, I thought) and Rodrigo, the Zamboni driver, put on the loaner equipment. What ensued was a bizarre mix of pickup and showoffsmanship (a word I just made up).
We played Symantec, which is usually a team that's easy to beat despite its two or three ringers; the ringers can't carry the team on their own. Usually. Last night, however, with only one real goalie, a fourth ringer (Alex) borrowed from Blue Martini, and little passing to the team's beginners, Symantec managed a 16 to 8 blowout.
Mostly I wasn't pleased with my level of play (I won't bother to say anything else about Symantec's), but I did have one really cool carry up the ice. Rob had twice tried to feed me with really soft passes from behind, but I couldn't slow down enough to get either one. On his third attempt, however, I was ready for the off-speed pass, waited for it, and skated a half-arc to get control of it before taking off for the far blue line. I figured if Anton can skate these huge arcs with the puck just to set himself up, I could spend at least 1/8 the time and do myself the same favor. It worked beautifully, and as I reached full speed I felt confident and fast and in control. I screwed up the pass back to Rob as we crossed the far blue line, but for those few seconds between blue lines I was invincible.
Of course, every moment of invincibility must be balanced with complete freakwit behavior, and it seemed like there was more freakwit behavior than usual in this game. I choose to spotlight the time I managed to poke check the puck away from a breaking opponent, and then lost the black disc between my feet. In my earnest attempt to fish it out and clear it, I focused a little too much on where the puck was and ended up falling face first onto the ice. I honestly didn't realize I had pitched so far forward until my face cage smacked the ice, giving me an instant headache. Thank god for the mouthguard, or I would probably have gotten a concussion. [End Freakwit Spotlight]
I can't really say I was sad when I threw my socks and jersey into the "traded or not coming back next season" pile in the middle of the locker room at the end of the game, but it is the end of an era. We'll probably be back at Ice Oasis at some point in the future, but for now we are really looking forward to branching out and trying another rink, another team, another league. I will miss playing with Justin, I have to say; I don't think I've talked about him much here on the site, but he made a great linemate and role model for me. He's easy to pass to, he has a great attitude, and he's funny as hell. Really, his comic timing is even more impressive than his hockey moves, which is saying something. (And in comparison with a couple other teammates I can think of... well, they just don't compare at all. There's a technique to being funny; one guy's attempted jokes always fall flat, and another doesn't seem to realize that jokes are supposed to be funny, not just mean.) So here's to J: funnyman, power shooter, and friend to goalposts everywhere. :)
In other hockey news, my Spitfire team is now considering whether to go to a tournament in Vegas in April; I'm thinking I will opt out, since it conflicts with the beginning of the summer season at Logitech Ice, and because my sister can't make it anyway. She's been dying to go to Vegas, and I've been dying for her to see me play hockey, so it seemed like a Vegas tournament would fit the bill. She's back in school trying to finish her Bachelor's degree, however, and the tournament doesn't coincide with her Spring Break. With two scheduling conflicts, it seems the April Vegas tournament is not for me. I'll probably try to do Vancouver in May, though.