D Girl

We drove down to Delaware tonight to see our friend Allison, who plays for the Baltimore Blizzard, play in a game against the Delaware Bobcats. I've been wanting to see Allison play for a long time (she and Al used to play together at Ice Oasis, but Allison moved to Baltimore shortly before Al and I met), and more recently I've had a hankering to find out more about the MAWHL levels.

Although I love traveling to tournaments with the Spitfire, in general I haven't found playing on a women's team to be as fun as playing on coed/men's teams. I've been re-thinking this bias lately, however, in light of the fact that my learning curve seems to have flattened dramatically. You see, the women's teams in the area tend to be coached, and though I often (OK, almost always) bristle under authority, I think it might be worth trying to take a little direction in order to improve my game.

Lee, my linemate over the summer on the Galaxy, told me a couple times that I should play on a women's team to get more confident with the puck, and the suggestion always puzzled me. I understood the concept of getting more confident with the puck, but I wondered what made him think that just playing with women would accomplish this. I remembered replying once, "well, it depends on the level of the women." Some of the women hockey players I know could easily kick the asses of any of the men I played with on the Galaxy or the Admirals... and playing against *those* women wouldn't do anything for my confidence. Heck, playing *with* some of those women didn't do much to improve my game. I can see now how, perhaps, playing in a more (gak!) nurturing (gak!) environment—one that focused on playing like a team and developing individual skills—might be useful.

So anyway, I wanted to see a MAWHL game to get an idea of the level, and of whether I might like it. Allison had played on the Blizzard C team (I actually think it was classified as a B team at the time, but they adjusted the levels) for a while, but she dropped back down to D after having her daughter Nora. (Or was it before? I can't remember, and it doesn't really matter for this story; what's important is that she really likes the team she's playing with now, which happens to be D level.) I would have liked to watch the game together with Al so we could analyze the level of play as it was happening, but Austen was with us, and the reality was that one of us had to watch/feed/hold him at all times. I started out on Austen duty, so I said to Al, "keep an eye on all the players; I'd be curious to know if you think any of them particularly reminds you of me."

beaner on the loose

When I got my turn to watch the game, the first thing I noticed is that no one player stood out as being most like me, mostly because they all looked kinda like me in terms of skill. A couple reminded me more of Kelly in both body type and skating style, and there were definitely a couple players on both teams who could have been up a level, but in general I think I would have fit right in. When I talked to Al about it in the car on the way home, I found that he had the same impression. Both of us thought that I'd have fun playing in a league like this, though of course we have no idea what the coaching is like.

As for Allison, my impression was that she looked so much bigger on the ice than she does in person—taller, mostly. Maybe most of her teammates were just very short? I'm not sure. She played D in the aggro style that I recognized (and loved) from my Gang Green days, charging into the zone when the puck was loose and generally playing between the faceoff dot and the blue line when her team was in the offensive zone. I didn't get to see much of her in the defensive zone (because the defensive zone was at the opposite end of the ice when it was my turn to watch the game), but Al said that she was good at skating the puck out.

in control behind the net it's important to be first to the puck

We left about a minute before the second period ended, and by the time we were crossing the bridge on I-95 into Philadelphia we were glad we didn't stay even five minutes longer. The wind, which had been incredibly strong when we left the rink, was now strong enough and cold enough to turn the rain that started to fall into sleet and ice even though the air temperature was still above freezing. I could feel the car sliding around a bit as we got onto 676, and ice started to build up under the windshield wipers.

I'm not sure what I'm going to do with the information I gathered at this game, since at the moment the only MAWHL D level teams are all in Delaware, Maryland, and Washington, DC—and D certainly seems like the right level for me. It sure would be nice to play with Allison's team, or failing that, with the Bobcats, but the travel times to games would be anywhere from 45 minutes to 2.5 hours each way even with the closer Bobcats. Locally the Philadelphia Freeze, Concord Flames, and South Jersey Demons all have C or C/D UWHL teams; I guess we should try to go to one of those games as well to scout the level.

Posted by Lori in | January 14, 2006·09:40 PM