JMS Hockey Blog

JMS is a pickup hockey league

Month: November, 2011

A really nice Thanksgiving note

by barbaragarn

(I received this note on Tuesday, posting anonymously. To the author: thank you very much for this really, really nice note. It meant a lot. BG) 

I was thinking about Thanksgiving this week and the things for which I’m thankful (I know – kind of sappy).

I’m fortunate to have a lot of things on my list – mostly the standard, but truly important things – health, family, friends, etc.

But, I realized a new one this year.

I’m really thankful to have hockey in my life.

Corny?  Sure.  But I really am.


Hockey has given me a mental break from the things in the world that try to stress me out.

Hockey has been a real, but fun challenge (as someone who could barely stand on my skates 2 year ago).

Hockey has made me a member of a team, again – something I figured I’d left for good when I was 18. 

Hockey has given me an excuse to hang out with old friends and make a lot of new ones.

Hockey has given me a new experience to share with my kids.

Hockey makes me feel like I’m a kid, again.


Until 2 years ago, I didn’t care about the sport, at all.  Never watched it.  Never knew anything about it.  Never thought I’d care.


Two years later–


I love hockey.


Why tell you all of this?


Well, I don’t think I’d be playing hockey, were it not for JMS. 


Two years ago, my oldest son told me that he wanted to start playing hockey.  I try to support my kids in whatever they want to try, but I realized that this would be the first time that I wouldn’t be able to help coach or give advice to one of them — I knew nothing and couldn’t even skate.  So, I looked online in the off chance that there would be opportunities for almost-40-year-olds to learn to skate and play.  I realize now that, of course, there are opportunities.  This is the State of Hockey!  

I read about lots of leagues, but most sounded too geared towards adults who had experience, or sounded like leagues that have problems with parity.  I read about the AHA and the Beginner School and thought it sounded great.  The only problem was that I didn’t want to dish out several hundreds of dollars on gear and tuition, then find out that I hated it. 


Then I found the JMS website.  Sure, I’d have to invest in some cheap gear, but only $15 to try a session — that’s more like it.


Anyway, if it hadn’t been for the Level 1 sessions, I really doubt that I would have kept with it.  The supportive, fun atmosphere made me feel comfortable being the worst on the ice for a long time.  The times were flexible and if I got called away to work at the last minute and couldn’t skate, no one would really care.  It also made me realize that an investment in the Beginner School was one that was worthwhile.


REALLY long story and long way of getting around to saying “Thanks.” But I really mean it. Thanks, Barb.

Hockey has been a great gift to me. Happy Thanksgiving.

The Way We Do Things

by barbaragarn

Guest blog by Seth Clayton

​I offered to write a blog addressing something that I have noticed during our level 2 games. I’m not sure how prevalent the issue may be in other levels, but I think the underlying solution can and should be adopted by every participant in JMS. 

Recently, I’ve noticed some inconsistencies in how offside and icing are called and treated once enforced. Here is what the FAQ section of the JMS website says in regards to offside and icing:

If there is no referee how do we manage icing and offsides?
The defense will make its own offsides calls.  Turn the puck over, and after everyone has “touched-up” onsides, you can reenter the zone.
Goalies are charged with signaling for an icing.  Players on the offending team must wait outside the blue line for the puck to be carried out. 

Our captain from my most recent game did a good job reminding the skaters how each “offense” would be signaled, and I’m sure assumed that everyone reads the FAQ section on the JMS website, where it explains many common questions that skaters and goalies, rookie and veteran, may have.  I feel it is every participant’s responsibility to read the FAQ section to help the captain run a smooth and efficient session.  The captain could start every game with a long diatribe going over every topic covered in the FAQ, but I don’t think any of us want to stand around, burning valuable ice time, listening to something that is easily accessible to every member. 

While I only started thinking about the FAQ in regards to treatment of icing and offsides, on reflection, I think we should all take a few minutes to read them–whether for the first time or if we read it two years ago when we first started skating with JMS. And while a couple icing foulups aren’t a major issue, it’s something that nonetheless adds some frustration to games that does not need to be there. Keep yourselves informed, everyone on the same page, and our sessions will run smoothly and efficiently! 

Finally, skating with JMS has been one of the most enjoyable experiences of my adult life! We’re a great group, full of members that all seem to be showing up for the same reasons: to enjoy themselves, work on a little fitness and appreciate one of the greatest games out there! Keep up the great work and we’ll see you on the ice!
[BG: Thanks for the nice words and the community spirit!]

Responsibility in a CS

by barbaragarn

This blog is prompted by a captain report I had after an all-level Community Session. We introduced the more relaxed CS games with the understanding that they would be a challenge to administer. 

Some quick background on the CS games:
Before we had all-level CS games, there was no JMS session where people of separate levels (Bob the ex-varsity skater and his newbie girlfriend, Sue–or Chad the newbie to bring his rink-rat neighbor, Dan) and people let us know they were ticked that JMS didn’t offer something for them. A CS also made sense to help in certain regions: with more levels to draw from, a CS means we can still have sessions in areas with low JMS populations.

So we started the CS and have had some nice comments… and some people who tell us they are ridiculous and we should quit doing them (raise your hand if you want to lock pros and cons in a room to battle it out and leave the rest of us out of it?). 
The CS games have been pretty popular and I’m still deciding what the next step for them is. But the CS games are here to stay.

My main concern back when implementing an all-level CS was that some upper level skaters would not “get it” and would be the ringers we all can’t stand–the hotdog on the ice whose dominating presence at open hockey makes us yearn for JMS. We have had some instances in which upper level players (usually brand-new to JMS) have been problems. 

The solution for that is simple: we can remove those upper-level ringers’ ability to participate in Community Sessions. With that, I thought everyone would play well in the sandbox, until I got this eye-opening note after an all-level CS in October.

There were about 4 or 5 collisions tonight (luckily no one hurt), mostly guys running into their own team players. It may be a good time to remind folks to keep their heads up, especially if they’re going into an arena with mixed skill levels. Personally, my awareness level is even more peaked during community skates because it is very unpredictable what other players are going to do when mixing levels. I think we had Levels 2 thru 5. 

Finally, it may be worth considering to inform lower level players to keep there heads up a bit more during community skates (due to so many collisions tonight) as well as letting them know they can’t run “bee-line” straight into others players bodies. They have to go for a poke check or veer off rather than run smack into folks. Speeds are higher during these mixed level skates and other players aren’t expecting to get bowled over. 

When starting Community Sessions, I only warned lower level participants to not get frustrated when outskated. But the note above made me realize how important it is the lower level folks concentrate on safety as well. 

Upper level skaters’ responsibility at a CS is to keep from being a ringer and dominating the game. But lower level CS players have their responsibilities too: keep that head UP! We understand you’re not as experienced, but this important safety element is behavior-based, not skill-based.

Let’s keep it fun out there!