You have to love hockey. It never ends. One season begins practically before the previous one has ended.
My team -- with mostly the same cast as last season -- gets a fresh start with our opener later today. Our last game was July 18 and we won 3 to 2 -- it was our first win in 12 tries and it also clinched the bronze medal in our league.
Like I said, you have to love hockey.
Wish I could I remember much about the game, other than the general awesomeness it felt to finally win one after some close calls. The details are mostly gone. Here's what I do recall:
•We did a nice job of hustling to kill penalties. And our goalie made some nice saves on slapshots from the point.
•One of our defenseman took a slapshot off the nutters in the final two minutes to help preserve the win.
•We actually passed the puck and made good things happen.
I took a couple weeks off from skating in August for travel and such and give my Chronically Aching Groin a little break (as in break, I mean hauling around a heavy backpack in the Sierra). Here's the thing: when you're not all that good to begin with, a couple of weeks off is plenty of time to allow the moss to grow. I've made a couple of passes in recent weeks that were so wildly off my mark that I wanted to just hand in my gear and sign up for tennis lessons.
In the meantime, one of the more enthusiastic members of my team actually took all his hockey gear on vacation to Hawaii so he could play at Oahu's rink. I don't know what impresses me more: his dedication or ability to get his gear past the TSA people. My stuff would surely be called a National Biological Threat and be send to Area 54 for further study.
Trust me -- if the U.S. military could weaponize the smells emanating from my hockey bag, there's no more worrying about Iran, North Korea, etc.
As for the new season, probably the most interesting thing about our first season is how little we knew about hockey -- to be expected since the majority of our team is over 35 and had never before played organized form of the sport. To sum up our first 12 games in one sentence, we went from chasing the puck to sticking to our positions to some basic passing and that's about it.
We were competitive, so I'm not knocking anyone. But it would be majorly untruthful to suggest we knew what we were doing a lot of the time. Obviously the team would like to win more this season, but the really big thing we need to do is learn to play the game.
I'm talking as much to myself as I am to the team. The hardest thing about the strategy stuff to me is thinking about it while trying to play. The skills stuff is challenging enough. Trying to remember where my teammates should be on top of that usually is more than my internal hard drive can take.
But at clinic the other night I actually made one semi-intelligent play, taking the puck up the boards at right wing and -- realizing there was no good passing option -- continued on around the goal before passing it to one of our defenseman. Actually I muffed the pass badly -- at that point I was utterly shocked no one had taken the puck from me yet -- but at least I had the right idea.
We'll see how it goes when it counts.