JMS Hockey Blog

JMS is a pickup hockey league

Month: September, 2010

Why Play Goal?

by barbaragarn

Guest Blog by Keith Bloodworth

I grew up playing goalie in soccer and roller hockey (pre-inline) and catching baseball. Getting hit in the head is nothing new. 

I wanted to try ice hockey goalie and play into my golden years. Active duty took me away from the action for a long time. Inline hockey is now starting to take hold on Oahu…many years after I was stationed there.* Goal tending is a challenge for me and is my way of staying in the game I love. I started playing D in organized ice hockey at the AAA about junior high, played club high school and played in the  BHL as a young adult.

Playing goalie is not getting easier since I started in 2007. Age, sleep, nutrition, injury, career and family are factors against ice time. I have to decide between getting sleep and eating if I play on Friday night. It also means my wife walks to her place of business. SLP is at least on my way to work and I am able to shower while on Kronos.

I missed about 7 months this year because of a knee injury that started at BIG L2 and continued to a Chaska practice. I skated SLP L1 recently and re-injured at the end of warm ups. It is not as bad as last winter and I am happy with my spring/summer rehab. I need to create a better off-ice work out and try again. I may only loose a few months this time.

I looked at Hockey North America after I relocated to Twin Cities and tried several arenas and parks with pick-up games. A player at Hopkins Pavilion told me about the AHA and I went through the beginner school as a goalie. JMS followed. I love the game because it is fast, frozen and a great team sport. It is also free except for the X.

* 2010, June/July. Advertorial. Aloha Inline! USA Hockey magazine, pp. 13.

Respect in Level 1

by barbaragarn

Guest blog by Kenneth Starr

I have always watched hockey and had a great time doing it.  When I joined JMS I had not even played hockey before.  Sure, I had skated but not much at that.  Through the aches and pains of new found muscles, I found what I had been looking for.  The opportunity to take up a new sport when most people play it safe and won’t challenge themselves has given me great joy in playing hockey.  The sportsmanship of the players and when people play as a team is outstanding and has kept me wanting to come back.  

The one thing that has kept me coming back to JMS is that I don’t have to commit.  Sure it’s nice to play with the same people, but in this hectic life style most people have it is hard to commit and not have the fear of being booted next year because you had to bail.  The other thing that I love about JMS are the rules that are set in place and one specifically:  “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell…”  I have grown fond of how people respect other people with this rule [about not giving advice to other players unless they ask for it] and are more than willing to help when the question can be answered.  Respect is one part of life that makes it harder if you can’t get it.
Each week I can’t wait to play with a group that I hardly know but have come to respect as a team.  It keeps me coming back again and again wanting to learn more and do better.  The people of Level 1 Hockey are such respectful team players they need to be applauded.  

New Sessions and Rinks

by barbaragarn

I’ve added a bunch of new offerings as we ramp up into the hockey season. I hope you’ll be excited about these new sessions and locations. 

JMS will play at seventeen rinks this hockey season. I know we won’t be next door to everyone, but we’ll be darn close to most everybody. We will continue to use the regulars we had this summer: St. Louis Park, Richfield, Bloomington, etc.

We will return to some rinks we’ve used before: New Hope, Plymouth, Parade, Northeast, Minnetonka and Minnehaha Academy. And we’ll be at two new locations: VMCC in Inver Grove Heights and Polar in North St. Paul (not exactly new, but returning after years away). We will have regular sessions at all of these rinks–some levels, some community games as we work in the outlying areas.

Another addition for JMS will be a new Sunday night game at a central rink, starting in mid-October. And the end of September brings a return of Level 5 (now on Wednesdays, still at Breck) and Level 1 on Mondays (starting September 27).

Hoorays! I hope you are as excited as I am with all these opportunities to play hockey!

How do we decide what rinks get the new locations? 

We look at how many JMSers are in a certain area, and how often they play. If there are only 50 total JMSers within 10 miles of Dakotah Sports and Fitness in Prior Lake, and they skate a total of five times per month, we won’t be as likely to choose that rink for a new location as we would for, say, Forest Lake, with more skaters who play more often.

It may be frustrating to hear, but the most concrete action you can take if you want a session close to home is to 1. make the drive to the nearest session and establish a pattern of regular attendance and 2. recruit others to join you. I’d love to book everywhere, but I have to exercise discretion to manage JMS responsibly; looking at number of skaters and their playing frequency is a solid metric to estimate how successful a session might be. 

Other key factors have to do with the rink. Some just don’t have any useable ice available and others are priced way out of our range. I’ll keep trying to find creative ways to make it work on my end, and I hope skaters will continue to drive a few extra miles to show their willingness… and hopefully, we’ll meet in the middle.

You can also tell us what you want with the Location Survey — log in and find it under the “Games” tab.

Enjoy the new icetimes and locations! I’ll be sending out alerts to give folks a heads up when something new is debuting close by.

Midlife Crisis into the Net

by barbaragarn

Guest blog by David Resch 

Some buy a red sports car, some take an exotic vacation. What did I do for my midlife crisis? I bought goalie gear.

I’ve been skating since I was four years old. Skating and plying pond hockey while growing up–and playing on an intramural team during college–was the extent of my hockey career. I always had a secret desire to play goalie, though, and I attributed it to the kids in school calling me “Chico,” after goalie Chico Resch, who played for the Islanders in the late 70s. Actually, it was my nephew who expressed interest in the position and gave me the motivation to pursue it as well.

I can still remember the first time I put on all the gear, borrowed from a sporting goods store. All I could think was, “I can barely move, how am I supposed to skate with this stuff?” That, and the insane amount of sweat produced just by putting on the equipment.

In spite of that, I still persuaded myself to bite the bullet and purchase the equipment, since it turned out to be such a unique and enjoyable experience for me. Unfortunately, I purchased the equipment at the END of the outdoor hockey season. That was right about the time I discovered JMS and I soon realized that my hockey season didn’t have to end in February. JMS provided the opportunity for me to play in a safe environment as a beginner, and allowed me to launch my goalie “career.”

Since then, I’ve been through summer Schwanns beginner class and the AHA Beginner School (which I highly recommend to anyone starting the position). The AHA class provided a great solid foundation of the basics, and regular scrimmages/games to practice my skills. One goalie instructor for to goalies provided very individualized attention. I was also fortunate to be on a supportive team with a bunch of great guys (and gal) who made the whole season enjoyable.

I’m not planning on quitting my day job anytime soon, but I have been having such a blast playing the position. I encourage anyone who might be thinking about it, to give it a try [BG note: JMS does have some goalie loaner gear]. Even if you decide it’s not for you, it will give you a better understanding of the game, and it definitely will give you a greater appreciation for those who play the position.

The Newbie Perspective

by barbaragarn

Guest blog by Heath Stoll

Dear Newbies,

Welcome to JMS and the wonderful world of adult beginner hockey! Who says you can’t teach old dogs new tricks?

My hockey career began in January. Thanks to Play-It-Again Sports, I fully equipped myself with skates, shin pads, elbow and shoulder pads, a helmet, a stick, and breezers (yes, breezers–we’re in Minnesota, after all), all for under $100! After I took “Getting Dressed for Hockey 101” from my hockey playing roommates, I made my way to the Hopkins Pavilion for my first foray into hockey.

I hadn’t had skates on in 15 years, and my only hockey experience could be attributed to EA Sports. Was I nervous? Absolutely. Was I the worst player there? One could certainly have made that argument. But that’s the beauty of JMS: unlike the pick-up basketball I’ve grown up playing, where a turnover or missed layup very likely will lead to a toung-lashing from your teammates, my fellow JMS-ers that night were incredibly encouraging. And no one was afraid of making mistakes. It was a very positive experience.

I hope that yours is just as positive. As fall and winter arrive and hockey gets into full swing, I assume this blog will address more specific aspects of being what the JMS community affectionately calls a “newbie.” 

For now, I’ll leave you with a few words of encouragement. 1) Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. JMS separates talent levels for a reason, and for us newbies at Level one, the pressure is completely off. 2) Keep playing! It took me a handful of sessions to feel comfortable enough on skates to start focusing on improving my hockey skills. 

Like any new endeavor, you’ll probably feel a bit awkward. And if you’re anything like me, you’ll get frustrated at times. Just keep in mind that everyone there is in relatively the same boat. If they weren’t, they’d be in Level 2.

Happy hockey season!​

Best Team Chemistry

by barbaragarn

The last blog dealt with team problems. So let’s explore what GOOD team chemistry means. 

Everyone approaches hockey in a different way. Some people are in it for the social aspect, and drinking beers in the parking lot afterwards. Some people want to WIN WIN WIN, and some just want to have something that gets them off the couch.

Regardless of the objective, the best team chemistry is when everyone agrees on the approach. The biggest issues I’ve seen come when a very competitive team has a “social-only” player, or a very social team has a very competitive player. There’s always discord when the objectives are so disparate. 

Finding a good team fit means understanding how the team approaches their league play–and making sure it jives with your objectives. If you just want to hang out in a sport environment, don’t be surprised if you’re unhappy on a team that has mandatory practices. And if you join a team of laid-back players thinking you’re going to whip them into fighting shape, don’t be surprised if they resist your martinet approach.

The point being: don’t join a team and waste a lot of energy and angst trying to get them to change. Much easier to find a team that fits you.

Kicked Off the Team

by barbaragarn

If you play team hockey long enough, you will have this experience. It sucks. And this is the time of year when it happens.

I’m not talking about deciding “This team is not for me” and leaving. I’m talking about getting the boot. 

I have head some crazy stories–one team openly decided to hold a secret poll, and everyone voted on a secure website, with only the captain to see the results… can you say TOO MUCH DRAMA? Ugh.

Another team held a secret meeting without telling its three female players (one of which was the second high scorer) to decide if the guys wanted to keep the women on the team. Ugh! 

I get that there are physical differences, but did they hold a poll to decide on the short teammates, or the old teammates, or the fat teammates? (No, they didn’t.) Remember, women’s lower body strength is directly translated to skating success–versus upper body shooting power for the dudes–and lower center of gravity with better stability. Sigh.

My conclusion over the years has been: If the team is already, seriously, talking about getting rid of someone–not griping over beers after the game about one player’s penalty-prone behavior, but SERIOUSLY discussing it–then it’s time. A team needs to be cohesive and built on trust. And there won’t be cohesion or trust with everyone wondering about the solidity of their presence on the team. If it’s unstable, it’s time to find a new team.

But for those who do get the boot, most don’t have the good luck to be aware they’re being outed… they start to wonder why team leadership isn’t answering e-mails or phone calls, and slowly the question arises and is eventually–lamentably–confirmed. You are off the team. Surprise!

I love Minnesota, and I adore Minnesotans, but I wish people weren’t so passive aggressive–especially about this. I’ve heard all kinds of stories about players planning to join up with their old team… left in communication limbo for weeks because nobody in team leadership wants a tough conversation. 

And on a practical note, by the time the outed player realizes the “stealth boot,” it’s usually to find all other teams have filled their rosters. So the situation is even worse for that player who had been counting on playing that season, and as a veteran team member with old friends. All that is gone–no wonder people get annoyed when this happens.

For all that we’re tough hockey players, we can’t deny that this has to do with emotion. Ugh, I said it. Maybe that’s why it’s so difficult… we’re badass hockey players AND Minnesotans too. Emotion! Can’t talk about it! Gotta run!

So let’s take emotion out of the equation. I totally understand the desire to be polite and kind, and avoid a scene, but NOT telling someone they’ve been outed is clearly more agonizing for everyone in the long run. I learned early on with JMS that prevarication and qualifying statements are useless. Being kind does NOT mean telling someone a lie… and inevitably the lie gets bigger as the days go on until, when it eventually MUST and DOES collapse, it’s worse for everyone. Talk about needing to avoid emotional drama.

If the tough conversation is being avoided for emotional reasons, be pragmatic: you’re trying to avoid bad feelings and a scene, right? It’s a bad situation any way you look at it, so you have to decide how to make it least bad: think about the person in both the short-term and the long-term. 

Short term (the easy out) is to fib and put them off for another couple of days. But that makes the situation worse; it doesn’t make it go away. And you want it resolved with the least amount of freakout and confrontation. 

You have to acknowledge that the outed player is going to know eventually, in the long run, so grit your teeth and be honest at the beginning instead of leading the person on. This also gives the player time to find new team, which makes them much less angry at losing a spot on your team.

And if you’re avoiding the hard conversation because you don’t like hard conversations… you shouldn’t be in your team leadership! Yes, these conversations are tough. Get a backbone and do it, or step down for someone who can! It is selfish and lazy to string players along because you’re uncomfortable with a simple conversation.

I have a feeling lots of people have stories about this and not many want to post for attribution! If you want me to make an anonymous comment on your behalf, shoot me an e-mail and I will post it for you. This is a big deal, and nobody likes to talk about it, for the very reason that it IS a big deal. But then, BECAUSE it’s a big deal, we SHOULD talk about it.