Sports: March 2006 Archives
March 24, 2006
The ATX Spades (captain changed our name, since "this isn't the same team as last season") finally won our first game, 4-1. On the way to the game, Jenny was telling me things she'd noticed about the last game. "You don't challenge enough," "you guys don't look before you pass," etc etc. I don't know whether my teammates psychically heard her or not (I know I found her suggestions helpful), but we did a lot better job of playing as a team tonight. We still had trouble making good, solid passes (some of our guys have a bad tendency to make blind passes, especially breaking out of our zone), but we got a lot of good shots on goal and, just as importantly, the forwards were crashing the net. We got one goal off a beautiful deflection of a shot from the point (from my defensive partner) and the other three were all rebounds put in by forwards pouncing on rebounds in the slot.
I played pretty well again; no toe loops this time. Our forwards did a great job backchecking; I don't think there were more than two or three times where the defense was all alone. Unfortunately one of those times led to a goal, off a mistake I made; the puck slid into the zone behind me (last person back) and it turned into a race with a forward from the other team. I beat him to the puck clean, got to it right about at the faceoff dot, but when I tried to backhand it into the corner I fanned on it. The forward picked it up and put it through the goalie's five hole. :(
After that, though, we really lit up the other team. We were playing a very close defensive game; they had a lot of trouble getting into our zone with any kind of speed, with the exception of their star forward, who came down my side both times. He telegraphs his shots, though, so both times I was able to get my stick blade in front of his and deflect the puck away from the goal. :)
I had a couple of chances for points; an open shot from the right point that turned out to be a pretty nice wrist shot. It missed the top right corner of the net by a few inches, which is too bad (need more practice ;)). I also had a shot along the ice that a forward tried to deflect in and missed the net. Ah well, we won, and maybe I'll get a point next time. I also had a nice play where they tried to flip the puck out of their zone, except that I reached up, caught the puck at the blue line, and played it back deep. Jenny maintains that that should be illegal; fortunately, the refs don't agree. ;)
All in all it was a great game for our side. Getting pressure down on the goalie and getting second/third shots is really key, and we need to keep it up. I'm not sure where we will end up in the standings after the last few games yesterday--but we're not last, which is awesome. :)
March 19, 2006
I had my third hockey game yesterday. Our first two ended in 2-2 ties; the team we were playing had won both their games (one of them 6-1), and is in first place in the league, so we knew it was going to be a challenge. To add to the difficulty level, our captain (who works for SXSW) wasn't going to be there, and as it turned out we were actually at least 3 people short of our full team. Jenny and several of our friends came to root for my team. They apparently had quite the party up in the stands, with cider and rum, beer, chips, etc. They also yelled quite a bit, especially at the referees (who were terrible--missed several really blatant calls, including a trip on what would have been a breakaway). It was fun playing in front of people I know and getting cheered on. :)
Nonetheless, we started the game working hard; we haven't been getting many shots on goal, so we tried to step that up and just shoot the puck more. We had some great chances, but nothing was going in. Fortunately we were doing a good job holding them off as well; they scored once, but all in all we were playing well. The second period we actually kind of took over; we spent a lot of time playing in their zone, getting some good passing and some great shots. Unfortunately their goalie made a lot of good saves and we just weren't getting to the rebounds.
In the third period things kind of fell apart for us. You could tell we all started to get tired; all of a sudden they were getting lots of chances, including rebounds, and they started piling up the points. I think we were down 3-0 maybe halfway through the third when we got a bit of a break; one of our forwards was getting pressured by two opponents in the neutral zone; he'd drawn them to the left side, so the right side was wide open. I yelled at him to put it off the right boards, and he banged it perfectly off the right side. I picked up the puck and skated in, along with two teammates, for a 3 on 1 chance. I stickhandled around the last guy, who challenged me rather than just trying to slow us up and give his teammates a chance to backcheck. This time when I broke in on the goalie I made sure to get the shot off, a low wrister that rebounded to the left--where my two teammates were waiting. After a flurry of shots and rebounds, I circled back up to my right defense position, since I didn't want to give up a goal. Our forwards kept pounding away, shooting the puck and retrieving it, and about 20 seconds later it finally went in.
Unfortunately that was pretty much the last hurrah; after a wicked wrist shot beat our goalie from an impossible angle :-P to make it 4-1, I ended up as the defender in a 1 on 1 break. Unfortunately as I tried to transition from skating backwards to skating forwards so I could keep up with the guy, I tangled my feet and, in Jenny's words, turned some kind of crazy double toe loop thing and crashed to the ice, leaving him to go in and score.
So the game ended up 5-1, but for all that I think that if we'd had all our players it would have been a lot closer. We just got too tired to keep up with them anymore, and they took advantage of it. Hopefully next time we play them things will be more even. :)
Overall I think I played well; I made a number of good passes and heads-up plays. I did take one hard shot off the inside of my calf that stung a bit, but as I'm ordering sturdy new shin pads today or tomorrow, that should take care of that. :)
After the game I showered (though I wish the rink had hot water...) and we all hit Opal Divine's for drinks and snacks. Then Jen and I came home and had fried chicken (yum...) for dinner, and watched Jeopardy until Jen fell asleep, at which point I rocked the board. :)
Overall it was a lot of fun; I wish every Saturday could be that good. It was especially nice after this week; Jen and I keep finding things around the house that are related to Neil, which is really hard. There are a couple of our better pictures of Neil up on top of the TV cabinet, which I think is nice even when it hurts to look at them. I wish we had more pictures of him, but he was a little camera-shy. I've gotten to the point where I can mostly discuss it with random people without feeling like I want to crawl into a hole and cry for a while, which I guess you could call progress. I still kind of feel like he should be here, though; like I should walk into the bedroom and his cage should be there, with him hanging out on top of his castle. He never is, though. Which sucks.
Edit: Actually, looking at the stats online, it looks like maybe we were only missing one person (the captain), and we actually had the same number of players as our opponents. Jen said it looked like they had more people, but maybe not. Of course the stats aren't perfect; our goalie is listed as getting an assist on our goal, but that's because one of our forwards was wearing the goalie's spare jersey. :)
March 6, 2006
My hockey team had its first game last night. It was a good, competetive game that ended up tied, 2-2. Here's a quick recap. (The stats haven't been posted yet; they should be up today or tomorrow.)
The game started off kind of confused. Our team hadn't gotten together before, though we had discussed some on e-mail, and we were missing 2 people, so our lines were completely messed up; we had people hopping on and off more or less willy-nilly, which didn't contribute to any kind of smooth flow whatsoever. I started on the third line at left wing, a position I haven't played a whole lot. We took an early tripping (IIRC) penalty; on the resulting power play, the referee called our team for icing (if you're short handed, you can't be called for icing); I guess the refs were kind of getting their feet under them, too. :) The ref did realize his mistake and put the resulting faceoff in the other team's zone; our center won the faceoff to the right wing, who promptly put the puck in the back of the net--short handed goal for us, off a referee mistake. Hey, even the ugly ones count. :)
Much of the rest of the first period was back-and-forth play with no advantage to either side. At the period break, we took some time to discuss line changes and make sure everyone knew what position they should be playing. We went out in the second period and played much better; the other team did score a tying goal, but we scored another ourselves to make it 2-1. Halfway through the period, the captain asked for two people to drop back and play defense as our D was getting pretty tired; I volunteered and ended up at left D for the rest of the game (a position I'm much more comfortable at).
The third period was a good one for us. We outplayed the other team for the first 11 minutes; I personally drew two penalties (a crosscheck and a tripping call) through hard work in the corners, so we spent about a third of the period on the power play. Unfortunately we couldn't convert. Later in the period, with both teams at the end of their shifts, our right wing broke into their zone with the puck and only a single defender on him (and noone else back in their zone). Our other forwards were heading off, so I skated into the zone and yelled for the puck. He passed it right to me, but one of their forwards managed to backcheck just enough to make me hurry the shot, and it ended up going wide right--I guess I need more practice with one-timers. ;)
With about 3 minutes left to go the other team really started pressing. We spent most of the next 90 seconds in our zone, trying to keep them pushed to the outside and clearing whenever possible; we didn't have much luck getting the puck deep in their zone to be able to change. With about 1:30 left to go, there was a pileup and scramble for the puck in front of our net, and a trailer from the the other team backhanded it just over our goalie and in to tie it. That goal was pretty heartbreaking; we had played hard and had a lot of chances that just didn't go in, and we'd very nearly sealed the game. We played out the last 90 seconds with noone on either team really getting any scoring chances.
Interestingly, all 8 teams in the C league have now played (4 games total), and all but one of the games ended in a tie. It seems like this will be a pretty competetive league. I had lots of fun, I can't wait for our next game on Thursday.
Edit: The stats are (finally) up. It turns out the game-tying goal was with 1.5 seconds left, not minutes; not sure how I confused that. (Note that the periods are 13 minutes long.)