And there’s good news, at least good news if you’re me: although my winless beer league hockey team is still winless, we squeaked out a tie in our last game before the Memorial Day weekend.
To put it another way, we didn’t lose. We even scored first, came back early in the third period to tie it 3 to 3 and then – and this was nerve-shattering exciting – killed a penalty in the final two minutes to preserve the tie.
It helped that our opponents twice managed to get whistled for offsides during their power play, taking precious seconds off the clock because the games are on running time, even in the third period. Mental note for beer leaguers: watch the blue line or give your opponents a chance to regroup.
It wasn’t quite winning the Stanley Cup, mind you. In fact, after the buzzer went off I was trying to figure out how to handle overtime when I was informed there is no overtime in Pasadena house league hockey. Which, I believe, kind of sucks. We wanted a chance to win it.
I feel bad having waited 11 days to blog about the game. But in one sense it doesn’t matter. As soon as the games are over, I spend the next couple of days trying to recall what happened, but there’s usually just memory fragments of a play here or there. Asking me what happens during a game is like asking a dude what happened after ingesting five sheets of LSD: it beats the hell out of me.
That said, I recall bits and pieces.
One of our defenseman holding the puck in the zone and taking a slapshot. Just like they’re supposed to do.
Me skating up the boards and running smack into a defenseman and losing the puck.
Me skating up the boards and chipping the puck past a defenseman.
Lifting a stick of an opponent just as a pass sails at him.
Our goalie, all alone, sliding to the right to make a sweet pad save.
Our center grabbing a puck in our zone and weaving across the ice to take a shot at the other end.
It’s moments like these when we actually resemble a hockey team.
I should also note that our leading scorer is the guy who most recently learned to skate – just a few months ago. He hustles, plays his position and has both good reach and a hard shot.
One of the things I try to do as team captain is interview various observers of the team, as well as some of our players, about things they’re seeing on the ice. Here’s the list of the good and the bad, which may resonate with many of you who play and which I'm sending out to my team later. If nothing else, I like to keep their email baskets filled with hockey stuff.
1. We're taking more shots and getting more second opportunities off rebounds.
2. What we lack in youth, we make up for with hustle.
3. Our D has tightened up; not giving up a lot of goals on breakaways.
THINGS WE CAN DO BETTER
1. Our backhand shots look like they need a Viagra prescription and we should practice them because we never do, instead spending time working on our slapshots. Problem is, puck often arrives inconveniently on our backhand side.
2. We tend to bunch up around the puck when we don't need to, yet don't always offer puck support when we should (example: wing in offensive zone jammed up against boards and needs help).
3. Wings are chasing the puck into corners too often in our defensive zone.
3a. As result, wings aren't covering other teams' D-men on the point who are getting uncontested slapshots.
4. D has to be careful that both D-men don't drop below goal line or behind net -- which usually means someone on other team is open in front of net.
5. We don't have any kind of faceoff strategy -- at least we should have very brief discussion before faceoff what we're trying to do. Here's a website with a good basic look at faceoff strategyh: http://www.knyght.net/
6. Finally, and this is from the captain of the team we're playing Sunday: our breakout needs more snap. In other words, we're a little too deliberate once we regain the puck in our defensive zone. We gotta get moving wing and center in tandem to try to prevent other team's D from setting up and stopping us in the neutral zone.
That's it. I'm off to Yosemite for a few days of contemplating waterfalls and then rushing back Sunday afternoon to play in our game. Priorities, priorities....