Sunday, September 27, 2009

Puck Boy discovers new, most excellent hockey clinic

It's probably extremely normal for a 43-year-old adult male to wake up at 4 a.m., too excited to sleep because of an adult hockey clinic later that morning. If so, I'm pleased to be part of the bell curve!

That was me on Saturday morning, laying wide awake and staring at the ceiling at such an unseemly hour. As it turns out, my excitement was warranted: the hockey 101 class I participated in Saturday morning at Burbank's Pickwick Ice Center was most excellent, an intimate little affair on a full NHL-sized rink.

And, get this: I finally put together some cross-overs while dribbling the puck. That may not be something you veteran hockey players drop trou and whack the stick over. But for me, Mr. Beginning Hockey Player, it was totally whack-worthy.

Pickwick has an in-house coach -- I'll call him T (I rarely use names of fellow players to protect their privacy and innocence) -- who is often seen giving private skating lessons during public sessions. The dude just floats on his skates and apparently clocked some time with the Chinese national team.

After a recent public session, I got to talking to Coach T and he invited me out for the Saturday morning Hockey 101 class ($15 for walkups, full gear required, click here for full schedule), saying attendance was often sparse. He wasn't kidding.

There were three adults for yesterday's class, including one guy -- Assistant Coach R -- who basically helps Coach T. There was also a shy but ambitious teenage girl and a little squirt of a guy who may have been seven or eight years old and a goalie in his early teens. Finally, there was a 14-year-old dude who was quite good.

That was it. The entire ice was ours.

The beauty of the 90-minute clinic was that we took our time with the drills. The feature attraction for myself a friend of mine from my regular Pasadena clinic was a basic pylon drill in which you dribble the puck around the pylons -- and try to do a crossover each time you go around the pylon.

Sounds simple, eh? Like something a five-year-old skater can do? Well, if you think so, Puck Boy invites you to go fuck your dog! Pairing skating and stickhandling skills isn't easy and I've struggled mightily at it in the Pasadena clinic where the tempo of the drills is pretty fast. For this, I offer no apologies. The drill requires each arm and leg to follow different marching orders while at speed. 

But Coach T gave us all the time we needed to repeat the drill and work at it. And through simple repetition I actually started to finally get the hang of it. Neither my crossovers or dribbling were things of beauty, but at least I was able to do it without the puck always sailing off my stick and into some distant galaxy.

Everything we did was fun -- a basic horseshoe passing and shooting drill, a penalty shot-like drill and a delightful little 3-on-1 scrimmage in which us three adults chased the 14-year-old around half ice. In the interest of preserving my ego, I won't reveal the score other than to say if I had made a couple of those easy shots...never mind.

Anyways, if you're a beginning adult player, I highly suggest you get your ass out of bed on Saturday mornings and check out this Pickwick clinic. It is now a permanent part of my schedule.

--Steve Hymon

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