Is there such a thing as too much ice time?
We had another hockey game Thursday night. At 10:15 P.M.--and I know this makes me officially old, but those late games are killer. Not the game itself so much, the getting home at 12:30 and still needing to shower etc. :)
Anyway, we won 5-0 (which makes 3 shutouts in 4 games for our goalie, and 3 shutouts in 5 games for the team), putting us in first place in the league.
The game itself was interesting. The other team got really frustrated after the first two goals, and all of a sudden took a bunch of penalties (starting off with a double minor, and then a second penalty halfway through that, so we had about 2 minutes of 5-on-3 play). Then of course they get frustrated with taking penalties, and just end up taking more. I've been on the other end of that, so it was a nice change. :)
In spite of their troubles with the refs, the other team worked really hard. I sympathize with them a bit, because they're a tough team to play against; they never give up on the play, they work hard, they're in good positions and trying to make good plays, and it just isn't working for them for some reason. They're 1-4, we're 4-1, and to be honest at times I felt like they were outworking us--and not because we were being lazy. Of course, it probably helped that one of our defensemen moved to Chicago, so we've played the last two games with 3 defense. (We rotate out one at a time, which means the D ends up with a lot of ice time: thus the title. My position is that no, there's no such thing. :))
In some ways it seems like we get "lucky"--a shot ends up getting deflected up into the air and over their goalie, or on their one power play they turn the puck over just inside their zone and our forward ends up scoring on a breakaway--but we're so consistent about it that it has to be more than that. I think we're just doing a really good job putting ourselves in a position to take advantage of that, and doing a good job covering our own breakdowns.
I'm having a good season, too, which is really gratifying. Aside from my goal, I think I'm beginning to really get a handle on skating (I keep getting complimented on it, for one thing). Our last opponents had some fast skaters, and they liked to try cross-ice passes right as they were entering our zone. One of the forwards on my team mentioned that he kept seeing those passes and thinking for sure they were going to get in behind me, but they almost never did (I did give up one breakaway, but the goalie saved me on that one ;)).
I find that I watch hockey games differently now. I love having a Tivo, because when something interesting happens, I can back up and see how it developed. Where the players go and what they do when they don't have the puck is sometimes more interesting than what they do with the puck. :) I think it would be lots of fun to go to real hockey games, because TV is very limiting as far as being able to watch the play away from the puck (and line changes, etc).
In other news, we watched a very amusing hockey game today. The Make A Wish foundation sponsored a charity game between the University of Texas hockey team (a club team) and the rink's Mini Mites players (kids between the ages of 4 and 8). Yes, there were college players playing against kids so small you couldn't even see shin pad between the tops of their skates and the bottoms of their pants. :) The hockey players were pretty severely handicapped: they had to turn their sticks around (so they were playing the puck with the butt end, not the blade--which is really hard), they had to jump the blue lines (or do an immediate 5 pushups), they had to play no-contact (while the kids could, and did, check everything and everyone in sight), and they had to kneel on all faceoffs. The game was crazy--some of those kids are surprisingly good. There was this one really, really tiny (obviously one of the 4-year-olds) kid--I don't know what's so hilarious about little kids playing hockey, but if you want to laugh for 15 minutes go to youtube, search for hockey, and watch the videos of little kids. This little kid was raring to go before the game--smacking his stick on the ice and making little charges towards the UT players, like he just couldn't wait to get started on them. :)
UT lost, of course, 14 to 4; there were some really memorable moments. The Mites started out with 6 players on the ice to UT's 5 (not counting goalies); then at some point there were 7, then 8. Towards the end of the first period, the refs tossed a second puck out on the ice, and both were being played at the same time. One UT player took a holding penalty when he grabbed the smallest Mites player, lifted him up, and skated the length of the ice holding the little guy off the ice. :) The UT players were really hamming it up, too, throwing themselves to the ice whenever someone bodychecked them, etc. The UT goalies were putting on a great show of being terribly disappointed every time they got scored on. All in all it was pretty hilarious. Sometimes you could tell the UT players would forget they were playing with their sticks wrong side up, as they'd try to pull a move or make a quick pass just like normal, and the puck wouldn't go anywhere at all. :) Eventually they figured out that if you laid the stick flat on the ice and took a shot that way, the ref wouldn't call it and you could actually control it reasonably well. If it hadn't been for that I don't think UT would have scored at all. :)
The game ended crazily, with every player on both sides jumping into the play. There were UT players laying all over the ice, too, because the Mites went on a checking spree. I have some really terrible cellphone photos I'll post of the carnage. :)
All the mites seemed to have a great time, I'm glad we went. And I can't wait for Ollie to be 4 so he can give Mites a try. Hopefully he'll have as much fun as I do. If not, that'll be okay too, of course. :)
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