JMS Hockey Blog

JMS is a pickup hockey league

Month: February, 2009

Sharpening Skates

by barbaragarn

I know I don’t sharpen my skates enough.

Obviously, there’s the lazy/busy component.
I know it’s wrong; feel them slide out from under me when I try a sharp turn. I don’t like really sharp skates, though, and the way they feel like they’re grabbing at the ice all the time. I guess I’d rather err on the side of too dull than too sharp–at least I feel more in control that way.
Or at least I think I feel like I am.

I haven’t set on a pattern for sharpening skates. I tried. For a while, I had a sharpening plan, but it was only free on certain days, and I always forgot my skates on the special day… so I endured another week of dull skates and cautious turns, instead of just paying the $3 someplace else. I’m sure that’s why sport shops have plans like this–people like me pay a bunch of money and then forget to come in. My own fault.

And I know there is a “special tool” I could get, keep in my bag for a pinch. The little tool rubs down the blade and gives a bit more edge. I’ve used them before and they seem to work okay.
I know I should get one. But I don’t.

I do think that I’m off the hook with my sharpening laziness in the summer; most rinks have softer ice when it’s warm out, so having a duller skate isn’t an issue–and sometimes is actually better. And so I’ll let my skates go even longer in the summertime.

If my skates are too sharp, I learned to rub them on the plastic under the board door to the ice. Or, on the ice, grind them left and right while holding onto the boards.

It’s like Golidlocks and the Three Bears: I don’t want them too sharp and I don’t want them too dull; I want them just right.

We Call Them Breezers

by barbaragarn

This has been a head-scratcher since I started playing hockey. Why do Minnesotans call “hockey pants” by the jauntier name of “breezers”?

Apparently it’s not just Minnesotans–the linguistic region includes Wisconsin and parts of Michigan. People on the East Coast and in other hockey areas almost belligerently refer to them as HOCKEY PANTS, and don’t you forget it.

I’ve only been able to come up with two plausible explanations for this anomaly in hockey nomenclature:

1. An early hockey gear manufacturer, now lost to us, made hockey pants and called them “Breezers.” (Like “Cooperalls,” another protective piece that uses the manufacturer in its name.) This manufacturer of hockey garb was centered in Minnesota and sold gear to the surrounding region, but no further east. Hence, the piece became known as “breezers.”

2. If you’ve ever forgotten your jock or jill and had to go commando under the breezers, you’ll realize reeeal quick that they are, indeed, breezy.

Anybody have any other theories?

Discussing how this linguistic shift came about is intriguing, but I’m more interested in getting the rest of the world to start using our term. It’s WAY better than saying “hockey pants.” And, from an efficiency standpoint: shorter. Plus, it just sounds cool.

Forget people in other places with their stuffy “hockey pants.” This is the State of Hockey and you bet we know darn well what the gear is called. So I’m instigating an Internet “Breezer Blitz.” Go on hockey websites, talk about “breezers.” Ignore the denigration of stolid “hockey pantsers” and evangelize the world!

Breezers unite!

Favorite Arenas: Breck

by barbaragarn

Of all the rinks in the Twin Cities, I think Breck is probably my favorite.

Place evokes memory, and Breck is where I learned to play hockey. I was living in St. Cloud and drove my 1973 Suburban (oh, those heady, gas-guzzling days… what ignorance) to the Cities once a week for the AHA’s beginner school. Even now, when I walk through the door, the smell of the propane Zamboni brings me back to those first days of tottering around on skates.

It’s also a new facility and the staff keeps it pretty clean. The rubber matting goes all the way into the lobby and even into the bathrooms, how handy. The showers are actually showers I would consider using, if I had to shower after hockey (preferring always the gross and lazy option of staying stinky).

I like Richfield, too. It’s on the other end of the spectrum–so old that it’s become charmingly vintage. The group sinks in the bathrooms are a hoot, and Rink 1 is filled with the miasma of hockey greats who have gone before. Plus, I get such a kick out of those fans up there… they look so puny against the vast roof. But what do I know, they’re probably keeping things ten degrees cooler, right?

Not exactly a “favorite,” but the State Fair Coliseum is interesting to play at. I don’t like the long long walk to get from the locker rooms (half the challenge is before you take the ice, trying to find out where the heck your locker room is… and the other half is getting dressed sitting on a folding chair), but there’s something about playing in that vast, echoing space. Like any big facility, empty of the hundreds of people it was designed for, the Coliseum makes me wonder what it would be like full.

But Breck is still my favorite, because it reminds me of how I started on this wonderful hockey journey.