al and I in the locker room,
where we met two years ago

31 July 2002
I know, I know—I haven't updated my hockey site in forever. Want to hear my excuses? Probably not, but I'll tell you anyway: (1) the Spitfire haven't played any tournaments since Vancouver, and it seems like all I write about is tournaments these days, and (2) I've been overwhelmed by wedding planning. Yep, Al and I are getting married in October.

Regarding (1), we're having our annual team meeting this Friday evening, so after that we'll have a tournament plan for the 2002-2003 season. I'm hoping the LA tournament is in November this year, because September and October are taken up with wedding and honeymoon stuff. Since it's sponsored by the LA Kings, it depends on their home game schedule.

As for my non-tournament adventures, I'm again playing only one night this season, for on Mondays. (Al is playing with me on Mondays, and also on Wednesday nights.) I'm finding that I'm not improving as quickly these days, and I think this is partly because of the learning curve flattening out, and partly because I'm not skating as much. I don't even go to clinics or skate and shoot sessions anymore, mainly because the times have been moved and they're not convenient for me. This slower improvment rate also probably accounts somewhat for my sporadic journal accounts; nothing is really a miracle anymore. :) (And when it is, I usually get the wonder out of my system by discussing it with Al).

However, there are still a few milestones and observations to record. This season the pre-game warmup has been cut from five minutes to three, and the periods have been extended to 18 minutes from 16. The first game we played this way was really tough; it seemed to take forever, and we were all really tired by the end. After four games, though, we're all used to it now, and it feels great.

Al and I started passing to each other during the warm ups last season, and it's been really useful for getting the feel of the puck on the stick, a feel for how fast the ice is, and for generally getting ready to play. This week Rob also suggested that a good warmup would be skating around testing my edges, since I'm trying to break out more cleanly and deke better.

We won our first two games of the season, but I played so crappily in the second game that I left the ice feeling miserable. I hate feeling like a total gimp on the ice now, because I know I should be better. When I was first starting out I just shrugged it off, but now I take all the stupid mistakes to heart.

We lost this week's and last week's games, but I have to say that I had more fun losing these games than winning the one before. I skated harder, played better, and had a more positive attitude about everything that was going on. I even participated in a 2-on-0 breakaway (we blew past the lone defender at the blue line) last week; Derek gave me a great pass from right wing, right on the tape, I skated a few strides and then flung the puck at the goalie's chest. I knew I was shooting from too far out, but I tend to panic that someone's going to overtake me, or else I'm going to run into the net.

This week I forget exactly what happened—I think I was high in the slot and driving in when someone passed a bit randomly through the middle, and I reached out and caught the puck. I continued in as close as I dared and then fired off a shot. Rob Judy was in net, and he caught the shot easily in his glove, but I was still pretty proud that I got as close as I did. This time I was definitely more worried about finding a hole than about being chased down, and it felt great. I figured that I should have deked right, but Alexei said I did good by aiming over the goalie's arm. A little higher and a little harder, and I would have had it.

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