I am up faaaaar too late, and I still have some work to do before I can go to bed, but I wanted to get this little lightbulb recorded for posterity before I forget.
Tonight was the first Freeze practice of the season, and it was GREAT. I feel like a wet lasagna noodle with overcooked fusili arms at this point, but as Al noted when I got home, it's only by pushing past the point where you think you can't go any further that you build stamina and skill. (This is true with weightlifting, so it's not surprising that it'd be true with training in general).
After warmups (suicides, circles, and a passing drill), we did the Czechoslovakian drill, and amazingly I did it correctly the first time and with only slight delays to ponder in which direction to skate next on subsequent tries. We then did a couple variations on a drill designed to (a) get us to shoot from farther out, and (b) get us to consider our options when skating into the zone with the puck.
On one of the later variations, Billy challenged the puck carrier as she skated along the boards and behind the net. I got by him the first time I carried the puck, but by the second time, we were into the last 20 minutes of practice, and I was getting tired. I totally let him knock me off the puck without him even trying that hard, and I blamed my noodle arms for not being able to control my stick (and therefore the puck) with enough authority. It was totally like every game I played with the Barons this summer, where I'd have the puck taken away from me the second after I got it.
The third time Billy challenged me, I knew my arms weren't up to the task of fighting him off *and* controlling the puck, so when he came on I stiffened my arms and picked up my speed a bit. I actually ended up picking it up a bit too much, and I didn't make the turn around the net as sharply as I'd intended, so I lost the puck as I tried to pass to the girl in front—but by then I'd left Billy in the dust. Not that he couldn't have caught me if he'd really tried, but that was the "aha!" moment:
It's not my arms, noodle or strong, that make the most difference in maintaining possession of the puck when challenged. It's my legs.
I think I played four games with the Barons this summer, including the playoff game we lost 10-1 to the Coaches on Sunday. My best game was probably the third one, when I was still sore from the game two nights before. I think I skated harder and faster in that game despite the soreness, possibly because we had a deep enough bench to give me rest between shifts, and possibly because we had enough ringers to make the game more fun and exciting.
That would have been the game to bring my camera to, since I'd have had enough time between shifts to shoot some clips, but of course I forgot. Instead I only remembered to bring my (new) camera to our last game of the season, when we had only 9 skaters.
Despite the fact that the Barons take waaaay longer shifts than we do on the Freeze, I still only got one clip because I didn't want to be filming when the Winger on my side finally decided to come off. Better to plan for 45 second shifts and be wrong than plan for 2 minute shifts and be wrong.
The clip is from the very start of the game, the other line's first shift out. I wish it were easier to see how efficiently the Coaches break out of their own zone, but you can infer it from seeing one guy with the puck back at the goal line and then the Left Wing with it up at the red line about a second later.
Not only did that Winger body check Tony when Tony tried to poke check him, but he also nearly checked his own teammate when they both went for the puck right after that.
I didn't have any trouble (if you don't count having noodle arms and dull skate blades as trouble), but the check in the video wasn't the only one in the game. There were at least two that resulted in penalties on the Coaches, and one that resulted in a fist fight (and two five minute penalties; I'm not sure why both players weren't ejected, as they would have been at any rink in Northern California).
The Barons will be playing at the Igloo in Mt. Laurel, New Jersey this fall (I think the season starts in late September), and I'll be subbing on the nights that Al can't or doesn't want to play (provided the games don't conflict with my Freeze practices, which I've totally come to look forward to—me, look forward to drills! I know!). I think it'll be a bit closer to my—and the rest of the Barons'—level than this summer's "C30" league, which felt more like the Bay Area over-35 leagues that hosted former pro, semi-pro, and college players. The guys who played in those called them the "old and slow" leagues, but that's only compared to the speeds they reached when they were in their early 20s. Their skills were still far beyond anything in our C/D and mixed-level leagues.
In other hockey news, we're having our Freeze pre-season get-together tomorrow night at Cafe Intermezzo (leave a comment if you're interested in playing on the Indy D team or our C+ former MAWHL team, and I'll hook you up with the team captains), and we'll have our first practice at UPenn on September 22. I can't wait!
Posted by Lori at 9:54 PM