This summer I’m playing in two leagues – one is at the NESC (where we play about 80% of our games in the regular season) and one is in Concord (where we practice during the regular season).
The Concord league starts in a couple of weeks and I’m very excited about it. Hockey, beer, and lots of really nice women. The teams are “balanced” according to some method – which means (I think) that there are a variety of levels of players, and each team has the same sort of variety.
The NESC league, on the other hand, has a variety of levels of TEAMS on it. And my team – the Pink Ladies – we are the true cellar dwellers of this league. But damn, even though we get the living snot pummeled out of us each Tuesday night, it’s FUN. Our teams has mostly D-level players, with two or three C-level players. Most of the rest of the teams are solid C and B level teams. Which means that as a defender, I am getting a lot of action in the defensive zone.
Tonight’s game was pretty middle of the road. I think we ended up losing about 0-8. They were simply better than we were, but rather than get frustrated, most everyone on the team just tries to skate harder, play smarter, and do things less stupidly each time we’re out there. The first game was something in the teens to zero. Second week was 0-5 or so, and last week was another 0-8 or 9. No, we’re not big shooters, nor can we simply skate around them in order to try to get shots off.
Some things I’m noticing even more about my own playing so far:
- Less gliding to the puck (it’s amazing how much faster I can be when I know someone’s breathing down my neck and I’m tired and just want to be able to get the puck out of the zone so we can change lines…)
- I need to take a better look around when I get the puck down low and pass to someone who is open. Apparently either I telegraph where I’m going to pass the puck or I don’t look in the first place, because I can’t seem to get the puck out of the zone. Panic hits when I get the puck sometimes – and I hate that – because I want to get the puck and get good passes out of the zone. This will be something I’ll work on this summer.
- Playing tough is fun. During the regular season, when we’re playing teams at our level, people don’t play too physically. When they do, there’s a lot of “oh my god they’re so physical [chippy, mean, adjective of disgust] and grrrrr!” When we’re playing up a level (or two) there is simply more contact and it’s not a chippy/mean thing. It just IS. Getting down low in the defensive zone and really banging the wings and center on the opposite team up is fun.
Tonight’s game was a good one overall. Julia subbed for us tonight – it was the first time she’d been on skates in a couple of years – and right as she’d hit her stride, her skate BROKE. So sad! I really wanted to switch up defensive partners so we could play together in the second half. Oh – and I also drew a penalty! Who knew? I guess the other girl hooked me. All I know is that I was on the boards trying to dig the puck out, I felt someone behind and under me, and I held on to her head for dear life so I wouldn’t crash too hard into the boards. Everyone else told me it looked like I was doing ballet out there. Hee hee hee…
Other hockey things I’m doing this summer include both these leagues (Sunday and Tuesday night games), a power-skating clinic, and HOCKEY CAMP at Dartmouth! I seriously cannot wait for either the clinic or camp – if all goes as I think it will, both are really going to help me.
And lest I forget, the final hockey thing I’m doing this summer? The June of 1000 Shots Challenge with the Black Ice. We’re all trying to take 1000 shots in the month of June – which is 250 shots a week – which is 35 shots a day (assuming 7 days of shooting a week) or 42 shots at day (assuming 6 days of shooting and one of rest a week). I’m going to have to miss a few days for travel, but regardless, I’m going to make this. Besides, the losers all have to buy the winner a microbrew 6-pack. That’s a challenge I want to win!