Tuesday, April 27, 2010

What happens when an NHLer shows up for your rink's pickup game

This is one of the funnier hockey stories I've read lately, via the Birmingham News. It's about a member of the Atlanta Thrashers, Max Afinogenov, who showed up for a pickup game at an Alabama rink and then, predictably, ends up scoring the vast majority of goals in the game -- and playing for both teams.

My favorite part:
This being hockey, you know someone had to try to take the Russian on.

"Not one guy walked away without saying they went after him," Cheeseman said.

 "One of the guys asked me, 'What do you think would happen if I give him a shoulder?' I said, 'The guy plays in the same league with (well known NHL tough guy) Chris Pronger. I think he can take a shoulder from you."'
I'll be at the Pasadena rink tomorrow night for our regular pick-up night. Since the Kings suddenly have some free time on their hands, consider this blog post an invitation to any member of the team who wants to swing by. I know I'd consider it an honor to get smeared into the boards by Jack Johnson and I'll tuck my insurance card into my socks for whoever gets stuck taking me to the hospital.


Sunday, April 25, 2010

Good form

Originally uploaded by jl.mckown
Found this shot over at Flickr. Reminded me how I'd like to puckhandle and do crossovers at the same time. Stare at it, young hockey players. Maybe it will stick.


See you in October, Kings

Well that didn't last long. I bought two tickets to game 6 of the second round series on Saturday, thinking that action would certainly cause the Kings to beat the Canucks. Instead, I get my $180 back. 

I'm no hockey coach, but a few words of advice for the Kings:

Get some speed.

Sign Doughty and Johnson long-term. Same with Simmonds.

Put a leash on Quick so that he never leaves the crease ever again. Even I know a goalie shouldn't be kicking at pucks, dude.

Get more speed.

Do the above and they go deeper in the playoffs next season.

--Steve Hymon

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Play your position -- and don't give your opponent a gift!

One of the guys on my hockey team found this video. It's one of the best I've seen in terms of providing advice on basic positioning and the animation is great. I've watched it at least a half-dozen times already and will likely watch many more before our game Sunday.

Not that I'm obsessive or anything.

--Steve Hymon


If you are watching the Kings playoff game tonight you probably saw what Jack Johnson had to deal with while serving time in the penalty box: brain-damaged Vancouver fans wearing aqua green skin-tight body suits.

Can you imagine ever seeing this at Staples Center? Another question: it's one thing for one dude to decide to do this, but what are the odds that nutjobs like this live in the same city?

Then again, this is Canada we're talking about, although Vancouver isn't exactly Winnipeg.

If you want to come out and give shit to opponents of my beer league team, please wear a skin tight fire engine red suit. 

UPDATE: I just read these guys are famous up north and have even created nicknames for themselves. Here's their website.

--Steve Hymon

Monday, April 12, 2010

Well, it's a start -- and I'm no longer a hockey virgin

I finally played in my first official hockey league game yesterday -- along with seven other guys also making their debut and a handful of teammates with a range of experience.

It could have gone better. 

After a rough start and falling behind 4 to 0 early, we scratched back to trail 4 to 2 early in the third period but couldn't get it any closer. Final score: 6 to 3. Hardly an embarrassment but clearly we are better than that.

I was wired before the game. I think everyone was wired before the game -- some early game yips is what did us in. I might have well as played the first 10 minutes with my stick up my ass as I clearly wasn't using it for anything else. It took everyone a few minutes to realize the puck is not a hot potato and, in fact, can be a friend if utilized correctly.

It also seemed to take us a few minutes to remember that Mr. Puck wasn't just going to jump up and leap into the other team's net. Someone was gonna have to give it a nudge.

My own personal lowlight -- which I pondered while laying in bed last night: I was playing defense. The other team tries to clear it, I step up to keep it in and in the process knock over our center who is also trying to grab the puck and do something with it.

Result: Other team grabs loose puck, takes it down the ice on a breakaway and scores. I told The Domestic Partner last night that if I wake up screaming around 4 a.m., that play is the reason why. No wonder The Domestic Partner wants to put me in adult diapers.

All that said, I wish we could play again today. Like right fucking now. I knew hockey was addictive, but I didn't realize it was like having crystal meth shot straight into your veins while washing down uppers with shots of vodka.


I will say the entire afternoon was really, for lack of a better term, a "holy shit" kind of moment. When I was 41 years old, I never thought about playing hockey -- it just never occurred to me. When I was 42 I started skating. When I was 43, I helped put together a team for a league and there I was yesterday in a real jersey, with two refs, a scoreboard and actual spectators. Me? Seriously? In a hockey game?

Well maybe that moron Forrest Gump was right: life is a box of chocolates.

Only six days and 21 minutes until next week's faceoff.

--Steve Hymon

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Opening face off: T-minus 3 hours, 22 minutes

It's perfectly normal to arrive at the rink eight hours before an adult league game, right? Or should I have been there earlier? BTW, two of my teammates were also there.

After my morning skate I went for brunch -- you know to have something good to vomit on the ice with later. Let's just say I was a little wired. It's normal to want to stab the waiter with a fork before a league game, right? Or should I have used a knife?

Okay, I admit it. I'm a little keyed up right now. It ain't every day I get to play in my first ever game of organized hockey.

--Steve Hymon

Saturday, April 10, 2010

This is it: time to play ice hockey for real

At 5 p.m. Sunday afternoon, after about 415 days of skating lessons, hockey clinics, stick time sessions, 6 a.m. pickup games and weekday afternoon public skates -- and after countless falls and a wide assortment of ice-related humiliations -- I get to play in my first official hockey game.

 I am 43 years old. I will flip the page to 44 in August. I believe in medical terms that means I'm on the wrong side of the bell curve.

I started packing my hockey bag this afternoon. I plan to unpack it and repack it tomorrow afternoon. Then I am going to tape and then re-tape my stick. If I was single, I would almost certainly sleep in my hockey gear Saturday night -- yes, including my skates -- and arrive at the rink eight hours before faceoff in case I break a lace.

This is all because I went to a Kings game one night after work in Nov. 2008 and had a fun time watching Dustin Brown smash into a variety of Dallas Stars. After a few more games, I got the itch to learn to play -- figuring it was a matter of do it now or wait and hope there's a decent rink in the Great Hereafter. It was probably the smartest decision I've made in years. I even managed to get laid off from my job a year ago, thereby giving me more time to skate.

I'm getting my chance to play because the Pasadena house league decided to split its league into two divisions -- one for the good players and one for those who aren't quite as good. A bunch of the guys that I skate with in my regular Wednesday night class leapt at the chance and we started a lower division team. Over the past couple of weeks we've picked up a player here and there and as of early Saturday morning our roster stands at an even dozen. I somehow ended up team captain, which has a lot more to do with my ability to beg people to play than any hockey skills I may possess.

For eight of us, this is our first shot at league play. That includes our goalie. Our youngest player is 18. Our second youngest is 38. Everyone else is north of 40. Our most senior member -- and one of our fastest guys -- is 53. We have one woman on the team who is 46 and played on a traveling girls team years ago. She says she's rusty. I suspect she'll be just fine. One player is missing the first game to attend the opera. I like the fact that he has a wide range of interests.

I'm not sure how we'll play. We all have a basic grasp of positioning and strategy and we do hustle. Most of us have little experience actually sticking with a position for an entire game -- our scrimmages often devolve into chase-the-puck affairs. So it will be fun to see how our teamwork evolves. If you want to provide any advice, please leave a comment.

As for me, I have a slight case of the yips. I skated horribly during clinic drills the other night after a two-week absence from the ice because of a ski trip. At my most recent public skate, I caught an edge and took a spill in front of a bunch of figure-skating moms and had to crawl around the ice picking up change that spilled from my pocket before it froze to the ice.

Well, whatever. If I've learned anything about ice hockey it's that things go wrong more than they go right. Passes sail wide or are intercepted. The poke check that initially looked successful somehow results with the puck right back on the same dude's stick. The eight-year-old kid skates around you, as if you're a human pylon.

Oh well. None of this really matters.

Because on Sunday there will be 10 skaters on the ice, a pair of actual goalies minding both nets (no more playing hit the crossbar to score), a pair of refs and a scoreboard that kind of works. A few of us will struggle to climb over the boards on shift changes or feel the sting of being asked to leave the ice because of a penalty. But win or lose -- and let's hope it's a win -- when the sun goes down Sunday, I'll have been privileged enough to play a real game of ice hockey.

--Steve Hymon

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Some good news for skiers

Just fyi...The Domestic Partner is reporting that Mammoth will be open to skiing until July 4 thanks to some recent big-time dumps, including two-plus feet on Monday. Here's the story.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Last call for Pasadena spring league team

It's hard to get excited about baseball's opening day when it's just six days until the Pasadena Puckalolos open the spring lower division season at the Pasadena Ice Skating Center. Now that will be exciting -- it's my first foray into actual league play.

And if you're a relative newcomer to the thrilling world of adult ice hockey, the Puckalolos (the name pays tribute to the grand tradition of hockey in Hawaii) still have room on their roster for a couple of players.

My team is playing in the lower division, meaning you really don't have to be good to play, although you do need to be able to skate and be extremely enthusiastic. We've got eight guys on our team at the moment and I'd like to add a couple more before the season begins this coming Sunday (the 11th) -- games will be late Sunday afternoons and evenings. It's $300 for a season -- a bargain compared to other leagues around town -- and the Pasadena rink is smaller than an NHL rink for those seeking a more intimate hockey experience. We might even be playing four-on-four plus goalies.

If you're interested, email me ASAP at steve.hymon1@gmail.com. More details about the league are on the rink's website at http://www.skatepasadena.com/hockey.htm.

--Steve Hymon

Saturday, April 3, 2010

It's all about speed

Good article in the Globe and Mail about the role of speed in the success of the Phoenix Coyotes this season. Here's a link: http://tinyurl.com/ycyrae6

Two thoughts: 

1) as my hockey buddy Scott has been saying the past two seasons - and I agree - the Kings don't have a lot of speed and that probably dooms them in the playoffs.

2) God, I wish I was faster. Or, perhaps I should say I wish I wasn't so slow and could better defend against faster skaters (I'm open to suggestions on improving my D). If you can't maul your opponent as you would in the NHL, you better be able to do something other than serve as a human pylon. 

--Steve Hymon


Sent from my iPhone

Friday, April 2, 2010

Speaking of ski pics

If you want to see how a real pro shoots a ski mountain, check out this dude's Flickr gallery of shots taken at Mammoth Mountain. Great stuff -- and if you ever wanna shoot exciting over-40 hockey for beginners action, our new team will be playing late Sunday afternoons at the Pasadena rink.


Springtime in Tahoe

No hockey for me this past week — I've been in Tahoe skiing and bearing witness to some absolutely Donner Party-like weather. No wonder those folks chowed down on one another. There was no hope for escape.

Some pics to help bore away your day, 40something recreational adult hockey fans...

That's the view from the Rainbow Ridge run at Homewood ski resort on Tahoe's west shore. It's not the largest resort at Tahoe, but it has the best views.

That was the powder situation Wednesday morning at Homewood. A bit on the Sierra cement side of things but still better than working.

That's Teddy, my chocolate lab. If he looks serious, there's a reason why: at the time the photo was taken he hadn't taken a dump in two days — he had a vomiting spell and the anti-puke meds stopped up the other end. Both situations have since, uh, been resolved.

That's the view from the KT-22 chair at Squaw Valley. The groomed run down the middle — which I still have to conquer — is the Olympic Lady run. Do not make fun of me for not having conquered Olympic Lady yet. That bitch is steep!

If you're not bored to tears, you can check out the entire set of photos over at my Flickr page.

Steve Hymon

Snowbound at Tahoe

No hockey this week--I'm in Tahoe where it has been snowing on-and-off since Monday night.

Wednesday night's snowfall.

Powder day at Homewood on Wednesday. This is just off the Ellis chair.

Looking down the same run.

View from Wednesday at Homewood after the sun finally made an appearance.

A very uncrowded run on Lookout Mountain at Northstar on Thursday.

Silverado Canyon at Squaw from Gate 7. Great advanced run that few seem to know about.

- Steve Hymon, posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Skiing: Hockey for lazy people?

I was skiing at Northstar at Lake Tahoe on Thursday when nature called. The nearest urinal happened to be in the new slopeside Ritz Carlton hotel, so I swung my Vokls in that direction.

After admiring the marble-clad restroom --which included paper towels with the Ritz imprint -- I headed back to the slopes through the hotel's ski concierge room.

One by one, hotel guests would come in from outside and a Ritz employee would rush over to help them TAKE OFF THEIR BOOTS. See the above picture of this heinous act.

Allow me to repeat. Not just take their boot to the locker but actually take their boots off for them. Many thoughts raced through my mind, including this one: if you are the dude who takes off peoples' boots, is it a promotion when you actually get to wipe their asses?

Needless to say, this is one more sign that the pussification of America is nearly complete. I mean, really, why not have the dude go skiing for you, too?

P.S. I later returned to the hotel's bar for apr├Ęs ski and the wild boar white bean nachos were outstanding.

--Steve Hymon

Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone