a goalie at Oakland Ice

13 August 2000
A goalie showed up on the Olympic rink at Oakland Ice Friday night, so I decided to take the opportunity to try shooting on him. I missed the puck completely the first time I skated in—something I seem to do every time I face a goalie in the net. I end up looking at the goalie and forget about the puck.

I finally got one in after about 10 or more attempts, but I couldn't tell whether he just didn't give his best effort because he'd learned that my shots weren't very hard or very clever, or whether I'd really surprised him with a backhand shot. When I beat him with the same shot a second time, though, he started looking for it—and it didn't work again. I got two more in out of another 10 to 15 shots before he went over to the pickup game, though I honestly don't remember through which hole. Had to've been 1, 2, or 5, since I haven't mastered the flip shot yet.

I'd practiced my skating (speed, pivots, backwards crossovers, and turns are all much better) and stickhandling (I can't seem to mind the puck when skating backwards, and I haven't gotten enough "feel" for the puck on my stick to skate with it without looking down, at least peripherally) before the goalie got in the net. I tried to return to them after he left, but I found that all the shooting had really sapped my energy, and I was getting wobbly. I decided to call it a night even though I'd only been on the ice for an hour.

This weekend I finished reading Sports Illustrated Hockey: Learn to Play the Modern Way. I'm finding that each of the books I've bought about hockey is teaching me something I need to know, but so far this book has been the most comprehensively useful. The author explained the basics of offense and defense with both text and simple diagrams, offered strategies for dealing with the most common situations (3-on-2, 2-on-1, power play, etc.), and along the way dropped pearls of wisdom such as "when the puck carrier is holding the puck behind the net...daring you to race in and try to steal it.... Don't." (Good to know!)

Even though the author emphasized that today's game is more flexible, and forwards no longer stay in their own lanes "as if on rails," I got a good sense of where I was supposed to be as a Left Wing in different situations. I even have a bit of a clue about where to skate and what to do if I'm ever asked to go in as a defenseman again. I paid special attention to the section on face-offs, since I've never participated in one before and will surely have to on Thursday. Yep, tomorrow I hand over a check for my B league fees & jersey, and Thursday at 10:20pm is my first game. John has put me on the Wings (the red team), which is currently tied for the top spot. I'm trying not to think about the fact that they might not be by the time I'm through. =:o I'm nervous, but extremely excited. Woo hoo!

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