Until I can find a rink to play at in the Philadelphia area, The Ice Hockey Escapades will be going on hiatus for a while. Back as soon as I have some ice updates!
The Summer 2003 season ended for Gang Green on Monday, August 25 with a 4-0 loss to the Blades. Believe it or not, I came closest to scoring a goal, I think: I was trying to pass to Baldwin (who was in front of the net) from the corner, but I hit the goalie's pad. The puck then richocheted off the goalie's ankle and nearly crossed the goal line, but ended up stopping when it hit his skate blade, just short. That wasn't the moment I was most proud of, though. The moment of pride came less than a minute before that, at the faceoff in our opponent's zone. The Blades' best (and bossiest) player came over to inform the defender facing off against me that "THAT'S YOUR GUY [me] —TIE HIM UP AND MAKE SURE HE DOESN'T GO ANYWHERE". The defender sort of nodded, but either he didn't want to listen to his teammate, or he didn't know what to do with the information, because by the time the puck dropped and he turned to lift my stick, I was gone. I'd started gliding backwards ever-so-slowly as soon as we set for the faceoff, which made me the bossy guy's problem (he was at right wing). He knew he was supposed to go to the point, but he couldn't because the defender who was supposed to cover me lost me and hadn't picked me back up again. The bossy guy, perhaps because his attention was divided beteween me and the point, or because he's a better shooter than he is a defender, didn't do a very good job of covering me, and that's how I got free to make the pass that turned into a shot. So hooray for being sneaky!
I must give credit to Fuz for the idea; it was in a previous game (one in which he was playing Center to my Left Wing) that he had counseled me (in a whisper, not the tell-the-whole-world, including-your-opponent shout of the bossy guy) to crash the net as soon as the puck dropped. I remember thinking the first time he told me this, "how can I crash the net when there's a defender between me and it?" But by the second time he gave me this instruction, I had come up with a plan: I'd glide backwards as everyone was setting, and when the puck dropped, I'd have a clear path to step toward the net. Given that most defenders reflexively step forward when the puck drops, that would leave a passing lane from Fuz to me, and I could try for a redirection. This almost worked once, except that I got a little *too* close to the net, and the shot from Center went behind me rather than in front. In any case, it's a technique I plan to use as much as possible—and it's totally compatible with what I once observed made Mario Lemieux so good down low: he was always gliding around, never standing still. I never saw a man stay so open for so long in my life.
So anyway, back to Gang Green. Since it was our last game of the season, I brought my camera so we could get a team photo. We had the referee take two on-ice photos (one was in focus, but we obviously weren't ready yet—everyone is looking in different directions, and almost everyone has his or her mouth open—and the other wasn't in focus at all), and we had Gene, our #1 fan, take two off-ice photos. Gene's were better by far, so here's the better of those two. Click to enlarge, or roll over the names to see who's who:
I hate it when I don't write in my hockey journal for a while. I end up losing track of milestones and forgetting things I wanted to work on, etc. etc. And if I did by some miracle remember everything I wanted to talk about, the post would be too long for anyone to read. Fart.
Some random hockey things that come to mind:
I am now picking up the puck and running with it so often that it's no longer news. I had my first real deke ever in a game against either the Cougars or the Crease Monkeys (see what I mean? I can't remember!) a few weeks ago, and ever since then, I'm off and running whenever the puck squirts my way.
Impaling someone with your stick does not result in a penalty. Neither, apparently, does wrenching said stick out of the impaler's hands and throwing it across the ice. I had occasion to find this out in our last game of the season, when I turned up ice to follow the puck and found an opponent barrelling at me—yes, going in the wrong direction, for some reason—full speed, and with his head down. As I had raised my stick to waist-level to negotiate the turn, and my hands came up reflexively to ward off the inevitable blow, my stick ended up driving straight into my opponent's gut while his body weight completely bowled me over. I got up, tried to see if he was OK, and then looked around for my stick, which was about 10 feet away. At first I thought the impact had flung it so far, but my Gang Green teammates informed me that my opponent ripped it out of my hands and threw it. That would account for the pain in my left hand...
I look about like what I thought I'd look like. Everyone always says that when you see a video of yourself playing hockey, you'll be shocked at how slow you are. Not so for me. I actually do watch the games from the bench, so I'm aware of what speed we're moving at. :) So the two times I've seen videos of myself (one in Vancouver, back in 2001, and the video Karen shot recently of our playoff win against Red Army, which was given to Al and me as a going-away gift by Inga and Kerry on behalf of Gang Green), I wasn't too surprised. If anything, I looked more coordinated than I thought I would. In short, I looked like a hockey player. Woo hoo!