In Which I Get All Waggly

On Sunday we played our fourth game of the season at The Pond in Newark, Delaware. Like us, the Delaware Bobcats went into the game 0-3, and also like us, they've lost players to the upper division, and they're rebuilding this year.

At the beginning of the game it seemed like we'd be able to beat them easily, but I think instead of picking up the pace and skating right past them, we slowed down to their speed. We had more trouble breaking out of our defensive zone than we should have, too. And as for me personally... well, things were going well until the middle of the second period, went suddenly everything went to hell.

We were up 2-1, and the play that set the awfulness in motion was a breakout. Laura got the puck near the bottom of the faceoff circle on the far side, and I skated to the top of the slot, stopped, and called for the pass. As I was waiting to make sure it got to me—I didn't want to leave the zone and have the puck left there in the middle of the ice—I heard Billy scream my name from the bench and looked up, right between the words "LORI!" and "SKATE!—and just as the puck got to me. Since my attention was now on the bench and not on the ice, the puck went under my stick. I heard Billy yell "AWW!", and that's when my annoyance started to rise.

I wasn't mad at Billy, but I *was* wondering what the heck was supposed to happen there. Yes, I understand that skating and not just standing still for the pass is a good thing, but breakouts in general weren't working well for us, and long passes in particular are not our strong suit. Anyway, this is going through my head as I chase after the lost pass (which obviously did make it to me and then some) and pick it up just outside the blueline near the boards. At this point the D is coming on hard, so I go in hard too, dig the puck out, and pop it out to where my Center should be, and go down under the weight of the D. From the ice I see an opponent pick up the puck because my Center, it turns out, hadn't been coming up into the neutral zone beside me; instead, she was behind me on the boards. *That's* when I got mad.

I pulled myself up off the ice and tried to jump into the play, but my head was roiling with the whole series of events that had just happened, and I couldn't think straight about what was happening RIGHT THEN. The puck came out to the point on the right side, and no one was on her, so I skated over in that direction. She shot it back in, and I drifted back to the middle. I saw someone down low pass back up to the left side point... and it was at that moment that I realized where I should be—namely, right in front of that point, who was now taking the pass smoothly on her stick. I thought to myself as I rushed to get over there, "if they score now, it's on me." A few seconds later, they did. (Not directly from the point, but the goal was a result of the point being able to throw the puck back in cleanly.)

I came off saying "I know, I know!", and Billy and I ended up yelling at each other a bit over the whole mess. (Again, I wasn't angry at Billy so much as at myself and at the situation, and I think Billy felt the same way. Billy never stays mad for long, anyway.) It turned out that he'd been telling the D to wing passes out to the red line rather than trying to break out properly, so that's why he was yelling at me to skate. We never really got into why my pass out from the boards wasn't successful, but that bugged me for a while longer. What bugged me even more was that I'd let my anger get to me on the ice, and it made me play stupidly. The game ended in a 2-2 tie, and I had neither of the goals. (Angie had the first one, and Meghan scored the second with authori-TAY.)

The next night we had practice for the first time in two weeks (we had last Monday off). I looked forward to it all day, and on the drive to the rink I resolved to skate as hard as I possibly could, to work as hard as I possibly could, to not whine or complain or make excuses for bad execution. I suspect Billy was on a similar wavelength, because he had us work on making breakout passes; making long, hard passes from the goal line to the point; and skating with the puck with pressure. (I had asked him after our third loss if we could practice passing with pressure, and he said, "Allow me to be blunt. You guys can't pass WITHOUT pressure." Point taken. I suggested instead that we just work on *skating* with pressure, and I think he remembered.)

In the first passing drill, a D and a Forward started at the boards and skated on parallel tracks, the D behind the net, and the F in front of it. At the far post the F was supposed to turn up ice and skate, and the D was supposed to bank a pass off the boards. The first few times we ran it, either the F didn't turn up ice and skate as she should have, or the D didn't pass up the boards hard enough, or both. Billy encouraged the D to pass harder up the boards... and of course the puck often blew by the Forwards, especially if they weren't skating hard. For my part, I had to come back to get a couple passes that went behind me, and there were a couple that I had to skate hard to catch.

Several people complained when the passes got away from them, but Billy blew the whistle for the next pair to go. No second chances. I must say, I LOVED THIS. This is exactly what I was hoping for. I love Billy because he's helpful and patient and supportive, but on this night I was hoping for a little tough love, and I got it. Do we get second chances in games? No. When we miss pucks do we pay for it? YES. I was thrilled to not only be practicing a skill, but having the consequences of getting it wrong be real.

By the time Billy put a second Forward into the drill (to backstop the puck if it missed the first girl for the purposes of the drill, but also to back the D up in a game situation), I was waggling with excitement like a Labrador retriever waiting for its owner to throw the ball. I skated hard. I caught pucks. I occasionally made mistakes and resolved to fix them on the next run-through. I SCORED GOALS. It was thrilling, I tell you. I'm getting all waggly again just thinking about it.

Hopefully I can bring that excitement and AW YEAH enthusiasm to our game against the Wicked in Bethlehem on Saturday. I'm ready to WIN ONE!!

Posted by Lori in Freeze ~ Fall/Winter 2008 | November 19, 2008·11:04 PM