JMS Hockey Blog

JMS is a pickup hockey league

Month: September, 2009

What was I thinking?

by barbaragarn

Guest blog by [url=]Lee Kimsey

“What on earth was I thinking?”
This was the thought echoing in my mind as I left the Hat Trick Arena this past Monday night. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

It all started earlier in the afternoon when I was looking at the JMS website and noticed that the Level 1 session was pretty low on skaters and I decided to sign up for it. I’m not sure whether it was poor judgment, an adventurous spirit or just plain stupidity that compelled me to offer to play as a goalie. I guess I thought, “Heck, half the time they’re just standing there. How hard could it be? This is Level 1 after all.”

Let me pause here and express my profound, heartfelt apology to any goalie who might be reading this, but rest assured you have already exacted your revenge because I actually did it.

So I find myself waiting in the locker room and Barbara comes bounding in, being all energetic in that way that she is (in hindsight I now find this oddly annoying although it wasn’t at the time . . . she knew!), she plops a Gear bag in front of me full of goalie gear.

Does everyone remember a while back she was trying to unload some goalie gear she described as “really smelly?” OH MY GOSH! This was the stuff that DIDN’T smell bad?!?!

So I get past the odor and I find myself confronted with straps. I’ve never actually watched a goalie dress . . . I mean really, it’s not nice to stare in a locker room right? But the straps! Straps upon straps–the last time I saw this many buckles, straps and connections I was 17 years old, on a date in the back seat of a 1967 Chevy. It was no easier then either. But I manage and I only had a couple of straps left over that I didn’t know what to do with (you should see my TV stand).

I head for the ice and quickly discover that I am considerably wider than usual and no longer fit through doorways. I have to walk like I have poopy drawers and I still smell.

In spite of the challenges I made it to the ice without falling down. Once there it took me about 30 seconds to understand the logic behind goalie skates–they are flat for a reason! But I’m doing it. I’m playing goalie (sort of).

Once the game started, you will be gratified to know that my first attempt at shut out was thwarted the very first time somebody actually shot the puck at me. Incidentally, it was Jen Togstad who plays on my AHA team. She will pay later.

; )

It didn’t take me long to discover that playing goalie on my knees saved me a lot of time and energy. Plus my feet hurt less. But I was determined to have the “goalie experience” and got up quite a bit and even managed to make a few saves.

I actually caught one in my glove only to have it pop right back out onto the stick of the shooter who promptly scored on me. Every time I look at Barbara she is on the bench laughing, which is okay, because so am I. t one point I take my gloves off and steam is coming out of them . . . STEAM!

Sweat is dripping off the end of my nose, it runs into my eyes and burns. Let’s not even get started on my feet, my back and the place on my shoulder where the puck hit me. I think they scored a little over 30 goals. But I’m not sure and I lost count actually.

This is probably too long already but here are my conclusions: hot-hot showers were invented by a goalie. Ibuprofen was invented by a goalie. Ben-Gay was invented by a goalie (yes Tim, I owe you an apology). No goalie should ever have to pay to play. If your goalie is a guy buy him beer. If your goalie is a gal buy her beer and pretty things too.

And lastly I promise to never, never, never, never screen my goalie if I can possibly avoid it.


Team USA vs WCHA All Stars

by barbaragarn

Guest blog by [url=]Terri Lee Paulsen

The U.S. Women’s National Hockey Team dominated Friday night in their win over the WCHA All-Stars.

No surprise, as the national team has been practicing together for the past month, gearing up for their warm-up to the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. The Xcel Energy Center was their first stop on the 10-game Qwest Tour.

Team USA beat the All-Stars 6-1, scoring four goals in the first period, the first less than two minutes after the puck dropped. I was rooting for the underdog, but it quickly became apparent that they couldn’t pull it off. The tape-to-tape passes, effortless give-and-goes and relentless back-checking proved just too much for the All-Stars. But boy was it fun to watch, regardless of who you were cheering for.

The national team is a lot more experienced. Six of its 23 players have Olympic experience, with two having been in two Olympics and two more having played in the three previous Olympic Games. As senior copy editor of [url=]Ice, a national hockey magazine for women, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting a number of the Team USA players. I’ve even seen Jenny Potter’s bronze medal from Torino up close.

The U.S. Women’s National Team will be returning to the Xcel Energy Center on December 30 to face its archrival Canada in what is likely to be a preview of a matchup that will take place in Vancouver (likely for a medal).

Team USA beat Canada to win the Hockey Canada Cup earlier this month in Vancouver. Expect Canada to come out fired up to beat Team U.S.A. on its soil.

A lifelong hockey fan, Terri Lee Paulsen started playing JMS at age 41, a few months after starting to play the sport. Now with nearly two years under her belt, she’s coaching an Ice Mite team and sits on the board of the Waconia Hockey Association. She only wishes she could do backward crossovers as well as her 7-year-old daughter.

What Boyd Says

by barbaragarn

I work with a sports geek, and it is so handy. Boyd is my “hockey Cliffs Notes;” whenever I want the shorthand on a game, I ask Boyd, who is somehow able to hold all the statistics, player and team histories in his head, and then distill them into a cogent analysis at the drop of a hat. Hooray for Boyd!

So I asked him about the game tonight. Here’s the words straight from the Sports Sensei, though he made sure to note that, with nothing televised, he’s relying on the radio and box scores (Boyd has his reputation to uphold!).

“The Blues are where Chicago was last year,” he says. “They’re an up and coming team, scrappy with young talent.” Erik Johnson, our local boy from Bloomington (who has the uncommon distinction of being one of the few Americans chosen first in the NHL entry draft), plays with the Blues. “They’re a nice young team,” Boyd says. “They’re a better team than people give them credit for.”

The Blues made the playoffs last year — third in the division and sixth in Western Conference. Besides our boy Erik and other youngsters, they have seasoned veterans Paul Kariya and Keith Tkachuk.

The Wild have won at home and lost on the road (though as we’ve noted before, the road teams have been mostly Aeros). Boyd thinks Martin Havlat is looking good, “but I’d like to see more [Petr] Sykora, see what kind of a role he’s playing and how he’s fitting in since we got him from Pittsburgh.”

Wild head coach Todd Richards’ new offensive strategy seems successful, Boyd notes. “I think [Benoit] Pouliot is really going to blossom under the new system,” he says. Why wasn’t Pouliot used more under former head coach Jacques Lemaire? “Scuttlebutt is that Lemaire didn’t like Pouliot’s work ethic and attitude,” Boyd says, noting that his more aggressive style will benefit the team’s new system. “We need a strong center.”

“I think the Wild players will respond to Richards’ more aggressive play,” Boyd thinks, “Lemaire was kind of reining them in, but you could see at the end of last season when he just relaxed and said, ‘Go ahead.’ Everybody thought the Wild were done, but then suddenly they started scoring all these goals and we had a good end to the season. So I think the team can do it, and I think they’re ready to do it.”

But the more offensive strategy — and no longer having defense camped out on the blue line a la Lemaire– means we’ll have more breakaways. “And we need solid goaltending to handle that,” Boyd says. “It’s a really good thing we didn’t trade Harding — when you’re more offensive, you need a top flight goalie back there, somebody you know has a really good chance of stopping the breakaways.”

The Wild's new system

by barbaragarn

From the Blackhawks preseason game on Sunday (Sept. 20): new coach Richards with new strategy. The D were going in more–not glued to the blue like we have played in our more defensive system under Lemaire. And the forecheck led up the center pretty consistently.

We were forechecking a LOT more, really aggressive right from the get-go. While I like the defensive strategy, it was fun to watch the team be more assertive. In previous years, it has been frustrating to watch the Wild struggle against the really aggressive teams. Under Richards’ new paradigm, I think we’re going to see a very high-scoring season (though doubtless a high number of goals against, as well).

So… last night’s game was up the center. Up the center. Up the center. The Blackhawks caught on and started applying some more pressure in the second; the Wild looked a little rattled and started passing the puck to where someone should have been. But of course they rallied and hooray for another shutout at home!

It will be interesting to see the Blues game this Thursday and compare to what we saw last night.

Also, is it just me or does the mascot have a mullet??

Tournament Thoughts

by barbaragarn

I’m pondering the different gradients of the hockey experience, and where the tournament fits in all this.

What is the value of a preseason tournament? Obviously, it’s a chance to get the legs back in shape, suss out the winter competition.

For some people who have never played a “real” game before, with refs and clocks and all the trimmings, it’s a lifetime dream come true, in one moment.

I know lots of hockey parents speak of their kids’ tournaments, which seem pretty constant throughout the season. Carting them around to play all over the Cities and beyond.

What’s the point? Not being sarcastic, just looking for the intrinsic value. Why do people like tournaments so much? A chance to play teams you don’t normally play? A very, very mini-season?

I used to do the fall preseason invitational, until the AHA started doing it (you have NO idea how much work a tourney is… or if you do, I’m very, very sorry for you). And there’s that Walleye Chop-Your-Head-Off in the spring.

Maybe there’s room and desire (?) for another tournament? Thoughts?

From beginner and beyond

by barbaragarn

The first year out of beginner school (or C3 in WHAM) is tough.

Every team has a different character, and usually you won’t know what that will be–what the individual components will be–until you’ve actually played a season together.

In the AHA beginner school, you go into a locker room and take a jersey out of the big box. Everyone who wandered into Locker Room 1 is now a team… and everyone who wandered into Locker Room 2 is another team.

Not exactly scientific, or based on ability or geographic location. I’ve heard that the league will move players during beginner school, to make the teams more balanced. This didn’t happen in 2002 when I did the school.

And so your teammates aren’t people you’ve CHOSEN, they’re an accidental connection. Teams fall on a gradient between “fun” and “serious;” most people don’t want to be on one too far on either end of the spectrum (and we all know a team that is either too hardcore or too lackadaisical to cut it).

But in that locker room–or when you’re talking to people about your WHAM C3 team–you have no idea what people are like on the ice. How they’ll be on the bench, in the locker room.

That first year is tough. I was on the Bruins for the 02-03 season. We went 0-17. I think we actually scored 5 goals the entire SEASON, and that was because the league gave us some C1 level guy. I shudder to think what his season must have been like.

Our beginner school had only two teams, and the OTHER team (the “Ice Hounds,” run by Rick G______) sneakily asked all our better players to jump up to D1 with them. Great. We faced an entire season in D2 with the dregs of beginner school. It was a nightmare.

Whatever your first season is, it won’t be worse than ours. But it’s still tough. Even though the AHA has made great strides in making D2 a good place for teams straight out of beginner, it’s still tough because the learning curve is so steep.

And so you have to work against the cycle: your team loses, so people get discouraged and don’t show up. Which means you play shorthanded and tired, which means you lose, which means people get discouraged and don’t show up…

Focus on the small victories. Try to stay positive. The first year is still exhilarating: you’re playing hockey!
(and next year, when you know more about the game, and organization, and personalities, and all that stuff that makes a team, next year will be better)

How was YOUR team’s first year as wet-behind-the-ears newbies? We want the gruesome details.

Team jerseys

by barbaragarn

While some lucky players don’t need to buy new jerseys this season, some folks are joining teams, some teams are new and some are replacing old styles.

Are you getting a new jersey? What style–is it the expensive kind with lace-up neck or practice weight with just a screen on the front?

What kinds of prices? Home and away with socks–what are people paying for their uniforms this season?

Do you have them yet, or just ordered? Seems like every year somebody gets stuck waiting and waiting, and has to attend the first game wearing plain practice jerseys.

What does your jersey look like???
You know you’re thrilled with it. Post here so we all can see and comment.

A drama-free zone

by barbaragarn

The comments on the [url=]last blog about captaining a league team and the [url=]forum thread about referees really got me thinking.

We’ve all–unfortunately–had experience with someone who has lost perspective and turned a situation into their personal drama, ignoring the team and the common goal.

Whether it’s league play or JMS or pond hockey in the park, we play to have FUN.
The drama is pitiful, but we all know some unbelievable but true stories.

I just don’t understand how adults can forget themselves so completely and act so shamefully. I can’t decide which is worse: people who get so carried away that their actions are out of control, or the ones whose over the top responses are a deliberate CHOICE.

Either way, nobody wants to be on a team with these players. How do you know when they’ll blow up? How can you predict their devolution into irrationality? Are you always walking on eggshells, avoiding the drama trigger? And why on earth keep dealing with it over and over? If you’ve seen the behavior once, you will again. Period.

This is a GAME, fer cryin out loud. This is not life and death. For all that I love hockey, this is not the most important thing in your life, or it shouldn’t be.

Having passion about a sport is fantastic–necessary, even–but knowing where to draw the line isn’t just important, it’s crucial. I am astonished when otherwise reasonable people let themselves go over something as small as adult rec hockey.

Hockey is the coolest game, but it IS just a game. When I hear about people whose self-worth is so wrapped up in their hockey identity that it makes them act irrationally… it’s just embarrassing. The point is the game; nobody will thank a teammate for creating drama. Ever.

When it’s time to choose teams, people remember. Players who continually change situations into their own personal drama will indeed find themselves screaming on stage–alone.

Intensity is good. Irrationality is not.