On the Whole, Unsuccessful

Al, Austen, and I went to the second Admirals practice last night. The hopeful (or hopelessly unrealistic) part of me was thinking that Al would start a drill while I held Austen, and then we'd switch in time for me to finish the drill. The pessimistic (or depressingly realistic) part of me was worried all day about how we were going to pull it off.

The answer was, we didn't. We kind of ended up alternating drills and sitting with/holding Austen, which made for a choppy, crappy practice for both of us. After hurrying back to the stroller after my first drill—backwards Russian circles, during which I fell no less than three times—I was angry, but when I realized I was not going to get the idealized version of the practice that I'd been hoping for, I chilled out and tried to look on the bright side: At least I'd done the Russian circles at speed without worrying about falling. I also got to do one breakout drill, although there was some confusion about how it was supposed to work, and it took several tries to get it right. I'm pretty sure the purpose of the drill was to practice breaking out from a standstill, and then in motion/transition. It involved one set of D on the goal line passing to the Wingers on the boards, who then passed to the Center. The whole forward line would come out together and skate down to the other end, where they would then fling the puck back to the D that broke them out and skate back into the defensive zone for a second breakout. This second breakout would be taken all the way down to the other end, where a second set of defensemen would try to keep the forwards from scoring.

Al got to do the rest of the breakout drills, which was good for him; although it would have been nice to practice breakouts with my new teammates, I understood the mechanics of the drills, having done them several times with the Spitfire. I stood on the bench holding Austen while the drills went on so I could hear what Lisa and Jeff (who was helping Lisa run the practice) were telling everyone about what was going right and what was going wrong. Jeff made the point that one of the biggest mistakes you can make (and one I'm usually guilty of) is to try to make the breakout pass too quickly, before you have control of the puck, because it usually results in a turnover. He then mentioned that to make really hard, flat-on-the-ice passes, you should roll your stick over as you release the puck. It was something I'd noticed long ago but forgotten, so it was a good tip.

At a break between drills, I said to Jeff, "you're not going to be playing with us this season, are you?" Lisa responded, "I wish! He could be our ringer." Jeff then said, "I think you'd want someone better than me for your ringer." Um, no, actually, we wouldn't. Or at least, I wouldn't. In my opinion, a ringer doesn't do a team any real good unless s/he can play well with others on the team—and that means s/he has to be only slightly better than the rest of the players, really good at adjusting his/her level of play (like Rob Genovese was), or willing to pass rather than shoot. Either way, the goal of a ringer should be to make his/her teammates better, not just to score. (Again, this is only my opinion, but I've played with many upper level players, and I know which ones made the game more fun and which ones made it less. Winning, IMHO, isn't everything.)

I spent a lot of time holding Austen in the second half of the practice (and consequently got to say hello to several of my former Galaxy teammates as they filed past on their way to the locker room—their practice was scheduled directly after ours); the few times I did get back on the ice, I could hear him wailing on the bench, and when I returned his face was all tear-streaked and sad. Needless to say, it was a good hour past his bedtime, and he wanted Mommy.

I got to work on a shooting drill at the end, though by that time my practice flow was so gone—"what flow? there is no flow!"—that I didn't get much out of it. Jeff tried to squeeze in one more shooting tip before the Zamboni came out: namely, to try to get the goalie moving and then tip the puck in on the side that she can't get back to. No need to shoot hard—or even really to shoot at all—just guide the puck in the direction the goalie is moving away from. I actually did this twice against the other goalie, once during the warmup and once during one of the drills, but I found when I tried to do it as a drill, I couldn't make it work. I think it was partly the change in speed, partly the change in goalie, partly some overthinking... and partly that I could hear Austen crying.

In the end, the practice was too short (though it was the same length as last week's), and the only reason I broke a sweat was because I was standing around holding a hot baby in 20 lbs. of hockey gear. As I said to Al in the locker room afterwards, the experiment of parenting while playing hockey was, on the whole, unsuccessful. Hopefully next week we'll either be able to get a babysitter, or I'll go alone.

Posted by Lori in Admirals ~ Fall/Winter 2005-2006 | October 3, 2005·09:09 AM