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Hockey Gift Ideas

by barbaragarn

By Mark Chapin of Lifetime Hockey  

Need some last minutes holiday gift ideas for the hockey
player in your life? A gift for yourself?

What are the accessories that hockey players would like in
their holiday stocking?

At a recent visit to Dave’s Sports Shop in Fridley, I spoke
to the owner Dave and his staff member, Amanda, about popular accessories that
hockey player’s favor.


A local company produces this wax. Dave says, “It includes a
polymer that makes the puck cling to your stick.” It is something small you can
throw into your bag and it will keep the snow and ice from building up on your
stick which can easily happen at a colder arena or where there is snow build-up
on the ice.


Training Tools

There are a variety of stick-handling training tools
available including Swedish wooden hockey balls, a clear hockey ball (similar
weight to a hockey puck but helps you skill handle without looking at the
puck), and different weights of hockey training ball pucks for strength and



This is also manufactured by a local company.  Dave
says that its purpose is to “perk up your skate edges in a pinch.” A great
tool to have in your bag you’re at the rink and realized you should’ve
sharpened your skates…


Helmet Bag

Helmet bags are popular for players who have plastic
visors—full or half shields.  These visors can easily get scratched in a
hockey bag while rattling around with skates and other equipment.  It
provides great protection and it looks cool when you pull out your helmet in
the locker room.


Other Stuff

An emergency repair kit for your helmet might be the ticket.

How about a lighted hockey puck? It has the same weight as a
regulation puck and is slap shot tested. 
It has an embedded LED light and is intended for dimly-lit outdoor
rinks. You won’t lose this puck!


Happy holidays, everyone!





Insurmountable odds

by barbaragarn

It’s the beginning of the third period and your team is down by eight points. You have just two subs on the bench and the refs have been hassling your team the whole game while your opponents get away with bloody murder. 

What do you do? How do you keep going? 
Do you give up? 
Do you play halfheartedly, just holding off the inevitable? 
Or do you keep giving your all, even though you know there is no chance? 

I hate that feeling. I admit it: I hate psyching myself to play hard and give it amy all when I know that it won’t make any difference.

So I try to focus on the moment and not the game. Maybe I got outskated to every other puck… but I will try to get THIS one. 

I think about what my goalie friends have told me: you have to shake off every goal and act like the slate is perfectly blank, and start from there. It’s good advice.

Please share your stories about when your team was facing insurmountable odds, and what how you got through to the end of the game.

You gotta try this

by barbaragarn

We are always looking for good workouts. I started running to improve my hockey game, but running is SOOOO BORING. 

So this week, I went to “Skyrobics” at SkyZone in Plymouth, an “indoor trampoline park.” Wow! What a great workout! I wore my heart monitor and it said I burned 710 calories in an hour–and I wasn’t even doing all the exercises. There were no kids, just about 12 adults getting a great workout. 

It was a lot like starting hockey… everyone there looked like they were better than me… I was hesitant to try but it looked like a lot of fun… And the surface was even unstable and worrisome, just like the ice was that first time! But of course, like hockey, I got the hang of it. 

It’s a GREAT workout–I mentioned hockey to the class instructor and he said, “I was a hockey player for 13 years and THIS is the most aerobic workout I’ve ever done. I thought I could handle this but five minutes into my first class, I was ready to throw up…!”

It’s tiring, but like any other class you can push yourself as hard as you like. And it’s all bouncy!! Super fun.

SkyZone has a facility in Oakdale, too. Apparently both also have “3-D Dodge Ball.” There’s a ton of vids on YouTube. I mentioned the Skyrobics to a work colleague and she said, “I’d rather play dodge ball. I want to hit people and watch them suffer.” (Haha, yes, she actually IS a hockey player!)

It’s pretty intense. It would be a great place to take some hyper kids for an afternoon, too. Very reasonable pricing (they don’t have a big electricity bill to keep the ice cold!) and a discount for beginners.

Try it! We are hockey players–we are all about fun exercise!

Thick or thin or barefoot

by barbaragarn

What is your preference for hockey socks?

Guest blog by Mark Chapin of Lifetime Hockey

We all remember the stories of kids who were forced to wear skates too big for their feet, who wore several pairs of socks to make the skates fit–and keep their feet warm while skating outdoors.Today, we expect our skates to fit well and to have socks that cushion, wick and prevent chaffing. We’ll start this discussion with the premise that you have properly fitting skates (typically your skates are one to two sizes smaller than your shoe size, but proper measurement at a reputable sports shop is the key).

What socks to wear? Some players swear by going barefoot. Some like soccer socks that go up over the calf. Others tell me that they wear dress socks because they are thin and fit well. Some players claim they wear two pairs of socks on each foot.

The barefoot world is an interesting one. These folks are true believers. They don’t care that their skates reek (and their feet may slip around) and that their skates break down more quickly. They like the feel and mention that Paul Coffey, or Bobby Orr, or some other long-forgotten NHL star that didn’t wear socks either. It is a choice.

So what makes sense? The sock crowd argues that their feet feel better and that their skates are more responsive. Some say that the thinner the sock, the better the skate will feel and fit. My criteria are that my feet feel good, sweating is controlled and I don’t end up with blisters or chaffing. To be honest, I use thin silk socks from REI that are intended as the inner sock for hiking. They wick away the sweat and I don’t get blisters.

I asked Charles Pink, who manages the Hockey Giant in Bloomington, for some advice and what follows are his best pros and cons for socks made specifically for hockey skates:

Charles says that he uses a “mid-weight sock from the Elite Pro tech series, which is a compression-style sock.” He feels more stable in them and he has less leg/foot fatigue after playing. Charles told me that “the one thing that many hockey socks have in common is the way they are made.  Both Elite and Bauer have a seamless construction on the toe area, which is more comfortable for the wearer. If you carefully look at the sock, the stitching is actually on the top by the toe knuckles. This allows a better fit and feel with the toe box area of the skate.”


The price for the Elite ranges from about $8 to $16 per pair. Charles says that he has used three or four pair of these socks and for skating and prefers the heavier style–the pro tech series for skating–but the X700 is a great lighter alternative. Socks range from the Pro Liner, Pro Slim, X700 and ProTech lines.


Bauer has some new socks using the Core, Premium and Elite as the new models for 2012. Both the Core and Premium replace existing models (the Bauer Skate and Bauer Vapor respectively).  The Core sock replaces the Skate sock and now is available in five sizes (XS-XL) versus (JR-SR) and a low or high cut. The Core sock is also made synthetic material versus cotton. This allows for better moisture and odor control.  They also have what Bauer calls the “Y” construction that, like the Elite Pro Tech, provides a better fit and feel on the foot while skating.

The Premium sock replaces the Vapor sock and again is available in more sizes than its predecessor. Construction has changed in both materials and design over the Vapor.  It has the same moisture and odor features as the Core sock, but also has a few key zones that aid in lace bite prevention. This sock is a mid weight and similar/maybe better than the Elite Pro Tech.

The Elite sock is new this year and has many of the features of the Premium sock. This sock is going to add Kevlar to the construction to help aid in cut prevention. As Charles points out, “Why not? Common cuts can occur and this style of sock is used at higher levels of hockey and in the goalie side.” 


Reebok has a new line coming out, but the reviews are still out. Knowing Reebok, they should be as good as the Bauer line up.


Easton has three socks they offer in their hockey skate lineup: the Synergy, Stealth and the Senior Protective.  

The Synergy is Easton’s lightest sock, but is heavier than the Bauer Core, This is a good hockey sock and is available in low-cut and high-cut and two sizes each for junior and senior. 

The Stealth is a good sock but according to Charlie, for the money, the Bauer Premium is a better value for the same price.  

The Senior Protective again offers skate cut protection like Bauer and Reebok offer; it is made in four sizes offer a better fit that most. 


Other brands include Shock Doctor, CCM, Underarmor, Sockwise, and Tactics. While offering great products, these brands are not as big as the companies listed above.


Who knew that there were this many hockey specific socks to choose from?  So what works for you?  Do you go barefoot, or do you like any of the socks mentioned? 

My guess is that everyone will have an opinion on this one and they are probably right.

What Is Assault in Hockey

by barbaragarn

Shea Weber of the Predators smashed the face of Red Wings’ Henrik Zetterburg into the glass on Wednesday (April 11), a move that earned him no suspension, but a minor penalty right away and a $2,500 fine announced Thursday–the maximum allowed under the players’ collective bargaining agreement.

That was Game 1 of the series. Game 2 was Friday night, and Wings’ tough guy Todd Bertuzzi dropped the gloves just 1:36 into the first period to mete his own justice. The Wings went on to win the game 3-2.

Bertuzzi’s involvement here brings back thoughts of Steve Moore of the Avalanche in 2004. On February 16 of that year, Moore had checked Markus Naslund, then captain of the Canucks and Bertuzzi’s teammate. Naslund sustained enough injury to keep him from playing three games, and Moore was not penalized during the game or after. Much chest-beating ensued between Moore’s initial check to the head and the teams’ tertiary matchup on March 8 (though they played one another in the interim with no major incidents). 

At the March 8 game Bertuzzi began following Moore around the rink, attempting to initiate retribution. With Moore ignoring him, Bertuzzi eventually grabbed him from behind and punched him in the head. Moore collapsed and lay on the ice for ten minutes; he w eventually removed with a stretcher. He had a concussion with amnesia and three broken bones in his neck. The injury effectively ended his hockey career. 

The NHL suspended Bertuzzi at once, and indefinitely (he would miss a total of 20 games); the Canucks were fined a quarter of a million dollars. Bertuzzi called a press conference later that week to apologize to Moore and his family, and fans. 

The next season was the lockout, and when Bertuzzi tried to play in Europe, he was refused. Commissioner Gary Bettmann reinstated Bertuzzi on August 8, 2005 and noted that Bertuzzi was remorseful and apologetic.

Moore was in the hospital for five months; on his release, he wore a neck brace for a year. While the Weber-Zetterberg incident isn’t anything near as serious as the Bertuzzi-Moore incident, it does make me think again about the the border between assault and aggression in a game. 

Off the ice, someone who attacks you can be guilty of assault. What about on the ice? Where is the border? Does anything that happens on the ice get written off as part of hockey? I certainly don’t think participation in a sport is carte blanche for someone to attack members of the opposing team. (Moore actually filed a civil suit against Bertuzzi, which is scheduled to begin trail this fall.) 

On the other hand, playing a contact sport–or even no-check, as we do–is an aggressive competition. The game would suffer if we take out the contact. But nobody wants continued violence that results in career-ending injuries–in the NHL or in the AHA, or WHAM, or even Blaine. So where is the line? 

Hockey Therapy

by barbaragarn

Blog by Magnus Leslie 

I woke up the morning of February 29 as a brand new 40-year-old. 

I like to think that I was above all of the traditional hype and trepidation about turning 40 and did my best to convince myself that it was just another birthday. Truth be told, however, deep down I couldn’t help but feel a certain sense of dread, and a desire to make the day at least slightly meaningful in some small way. 

Unfortunately, although I had the day off, my wife was stuck in meetings all day and my two closest friends, with whom I intended to toss back a few beers to mark the occasion, were both out of town on business. 

The absolutely dreary weather didn’t make things any better. I woke up to find my backyard rink coated under a four-inch layer of slush and pretty much out of commission for the remainder of this pathetic excuse for a winter. I spent the better part of an hour hand-shoveling my driveway and sidewalks free of that same cursed layer of slush since it was too sloppy to run through the snowblower. I then actually found myself sitting in my home office working on my taxes. 

As noon approached, I realized that this was shaping up to be an especially miserable excuse for a birthday. 

On top of it all, I was now afraid that I was going to have to cancel from my JMS skate as our dinner plans got pushed back an hour and I didn’t think I’d be able to make it back across town in time.

I enjoyed those community sessions at Minnehaha Academy. For one thing, it’s usually a fairly fast game with a fun group of players. Even though it tends to be fairly Level 4 and 5 heavy, I think everyone does a particularly good job of trying to include the lower level guys and, from my impressions anyway, a good time is usually had by all. 

On a personal note, I spent one year of Bantams and four years of High School playing in that frigid arena, so I really enjoy skating there again when the opportunity presents itself. Not that we ever experienced any glory days particularly worth reliving at Minnehaha in those years; we were the perennial doormat of the old Tri-Metro Conference, but I had a lot of fun memories in that old barn nevertheless.    

By noon on February 29, my taxes were in the mail on their way to the accountant, a fresh layer of sleet/slush had resumed falling from the dreary grey sky, and the realization that my evening’s hockey plans were likely going to fall by the wayside had me in a downright foul birthday mood. I finally came to my senses and realized that I couldn’t just sit around an empty house at the computer all afternoon hosting a pity party for myself and planning my mid-life crisis.

I headed down to my basement/man cave, pried the cap off of one of the remaining bottles in my dwindling supply of Summit Winter Ale, made a big bowl of popcorn and figured I’d sit down and DVD or Netflix one of my favorite movies (you know, one of the ones you can recite every line from but you haven’t watched in years because your spouse rolls his/her eyes every time you suggest popping it in the DVD player). 

As I was thumbing undecidedly through my collection, a plain uncased DVD in a simple white sleeve caught my eye and I pulled it out mostly out of curiosity. The disk was a copy of the 1980 Miracle on Ice game that I had completely forgotten that I purchased off of eBay years ago, probably stuck on the shelf when it arrived in the mail, and never watched. 

I remember watching that game “live” (though tape delayed) as it originally aired with my parents in our living room and I have always attributed that game as THE reason I wanted to start playing hockey as a child. In fact, a little more than a week later, on my 8th birthday, my dad bought me my first hockey stick–a Christian (of course). Anyway, although I’ve re-watched that game a few times since, I’m certain it had been at least 15 years since I last viewed it, so I slid the game in my DVD player.  You know what, Al Michaels’ famous call at the end still gets to me even after all these years.

With my birthday disposition now much improved, I was able to survive birthday dinner with the parents, and even managed to make it back across town (perhaps driving a bit faster than I should have on the wet and icy roads) in time to make it to the rink on time for JMS. 

Skating out there on that ice last night was a perfect way to celebrate what remained of my birthday (and my fleeting youth). The sights, sounds, and smells of that Minnehaha arena are still familiar to me even after more than 21 years. The hum made by those rows of overhead fluorescent lights, the seeping cold of those cinderblock walls even on the warmest day, and the slightly musty smell of that old wood barrel truss roof took me right back to my high school days.

I woke up this morning just 364 days away from turning 41, and although I admittedly awoke with few sore muscles, some stiff joints and one or two new bruises… for 90 minutes last night I was 18 again.

Getting to Sleep After Hockey

by barbaragarn

What is the best advice or ideas on getting to sleep after playing hockey later in the evening? 

For me, any game that begins after 8:30 p.m. is a challenge when it comes time to get to sleep. I have tried reading, eating, drinking beer, drinking cold milk, drinking warm milk, taking Tylenol PM (1 capsule and the recommended two capsules), watching videos and late-night television, and in the end, I get my butt kicked by Mr. Sandman.

What is going on here? I have reviewed the literature, i.e., Google search (29,600,000 hits on the search phrase “How do I get to sleep after late night exercise?”) and my favorite suggestion from the medical world is: “avoid exercise during the evening hours.” 

Clearly, the medical folks have not played adult hockey in Minnesota.

So, I write this entry to stimulate some conversation and to throw out some ideas.  I will tell you what works for me–but every one of us is different when it comes to sleeping and to falling asleep so these ideas may or may not work for you. 

I will say that the beer and milk helps. I will also say that Tylenol PM works but with one capsule I experience a drug induced sleep that does not feel energizing come morning.  Two capsules makes me feel like I am really drugged and it makes it difficult for me to wake up.

I have tried many things and so, here is the formula that works for me and you can pick and chose or reject it completely:

1. Stretch. After I get my equipment off, I stretch in the locker room. The medical literature tells us that it is better to stretch a warm muscle than a cold one. I focus more on my legs and hamstrings than on my upper body.

2. Post-Game Hydration.  I drink a Gatorade or a ONE (coconut water). Replacing electrolytes after intense exercise is one of the key suggestions of nutritionists to reduced muscle pain and tightness.

3. Melatonin Anyone?  I take a Melatonin tab. My chiropractor recommended it.  Melatonin is a hormone that your body produces that increases as you get closer to bedtime. It is what helps you fall asleep and to stay asleep during the night. 

Melatonin levels decrease as morning arrives and scientists claim that it is almost imperceptible in our bodies during walking hours.  I buy a melt in your mouth supplement at GNC called Melatonin 5000 ZipMelt.

4. Shower.  I take a hot shower–cooler if I can stand it.

5. Reading.  I read for about 20 minutes to relax and then I turn off the light.

Many of the sleep experts don’t recommend it, but I believe that a beer after the game with my teammates is the best way to get started toward a good night’s sleep.

What is your hockey age

by barbaragarn

As someone who started playing hockey as an adult, I can’t help but compare my progress to others who are learning… including kids. 

When telling newbies about JMS, I have used the shorthand to reassure nervous raw beginners that “Level 1 is adult mini-mites.” No offense to Level 1 players, just said as a way to really drive home JMS’s unique mission to help the true newbies.

But I don’t have kids and I’m not familiar with their levels of play. What do you think? Aside from size, would a squirt player fit in at Level 2?

The biggest difference–besides size–I’ve noticed between adult newbies and kid newbies, is that kids are willing to make mistakes. Kids will try something without thinking, “Everyone is looking at me.” Kids will push the envelope, and fall down, and get back up again without even reflecting. And because they feel out to the edge and go beyond as they fail, they LEARN where that edge is. I wish I could be that thoughtless.

I should note, just in case someone reads this and thinks of their kids, that JMS games are for adults. Kids have so many chances to play hockey, and novice adults have so few, that we are sticking to JMS for the adult population. There’s also the size factor: a squirt at Level 2 is a tiny person playing with BIG and UNSTEADY players… definitely a safety issue. 
Some folks have asked about JMS for kids. Aside from the fact that running JMS in addition to my full time job means I have NO TIME to do JMS for kids, I have to say that hockey parents can be scary. It’s one thing to tell an adult that he’s not ready to move up, but I am NOT going to waste time telling protective and pushy hockey parents that their little darling lacks anything he needs for the next level up. Not even going to dip a TOE in that pool.

So what do you think is your hockey age? Are you getting any older?

New year new gear

by barbaragarn

​Wow! I went to Total Hockey in Edina today and talked to Justin, who is super knowledgeable and super excited about Easton’s brand-spanking-new Stealth RS line. I want this stuff. I want all of it. Especially the helmet. 

Oh! I love my Cascade CHX helmet and have recommended it to others many times. But this new Easton 700 helmet is so awesome. Justin said it’s been out about three weeks and it’s been flying off the shelves. It’s the lightest helmet on the market (and passes the “mirror test,” as another blog notes). It’s also available in matte black, which is uber cool. I can only imagine what it looks like with one of those “Terminator” reflective shields. 

But it doesn’t just look cool. The Cascade M11 (successor to my beloved CHX) was arguably the first helmet specifically designed with concussion protection for the back of the head. The E 700 is Easton’s answer to Cascade, with comparable levels of protection in concusson prevention technology. And it’s so amazingly light. My boyfriend hefted it and said in wonder, “It feels like a bike helmet.” It’s more of a fitted helmet, with a lower profile that sticks close to your head and keeps that lovely ultra-shock-absorbent foam close to your important noggin. 

The helmet is super new; it doesn’t even have an official cage released yet (though you can of course find one that fits well enough). Justin explained that Easton releases their new stuff in the middle of the season, unlike the rest of the hockey manufacturers. I have to confess, we walked into Total Hockey and I was NOT expecting to see the newest and most exciting stuff at the beginning of January. But it was fun to learn about Easton’s advances. 

The new pieces all take advantage of their newly developed and redone equipment with the company’s new ultra-shock-absorbent foam (I always wonder what it’s like to be an engineer for hockey equipment, designing and testing the stuff we use every day). The new foam material has a low profile and it means they can use less bulk to achieve the same protection. The designers have opted for a more fitted style and augmented that with no-slip grip in important places. The result is protective equipment that 1. stays in place and 2. conforms more which with 3. its lightness actually feels LESS restrictive and bulky though it provides MORE protection. Excellent.  

The Easton Stealth RS shin pads are designed in this new theme: they are not as bulky and have good coverage for the back of the calf, the first shin I have seen to actually have solid protection back there. They have excellent knee flexibility without sacrificing protection, and the important patella cutout that beginners need. 

We looked at the redesigned breezers too, and wow, are they breezy. The Stealth RS pants are breathable like none I’ve ever seen before. But they have advanced foam protection on the important kidney and tailbone areas. I know I have spoken about my love for my Tacklas, but I have to say, these give the a run for their money. If I were buying new, I would buy Stealth RS. 

The new Easton shoulders are out too and they are just as exceptional. These really look like goalie chest protectors to me, actually, in that they’re fitted close to the body and jointed. By having the gear move with the body, instead of the body moving around inside the gear, it stays closer and provides the protection exactly where it’s needed. The breezers, like the shins, have the anti-slip grip to keep you in place and moving with the pants instead of rotating inside them. 

I didn’t see the elbow pads and the new skates won’t come out for a while yet, but overall I was super impressed with the new technology Easton is employing to keep us safe and concentrating on playing hockey instead of worrying about our gear. Want to know more? Go to Total Hockey in Edina and ask for Justin–it’s always exciting to talk to someone who is enthusiastic about our game and the new advances related to it. I know what pieces I’m coveting for my next purchase!

I resolve to

by barbaragarn

What’s your Hockey New Year’s Resolution? 

Some ideas: 
I resolve to play more hockey. 
I resolve to take off my skate guards before I step on the ice. 
I resolve to LOOK first, THEN pass. 
I resolve to give my gear more than its once-every-12-months washing. 
I resolve to be nicer to the refs. 
I resolve to drink only from my own water bottle. 
I resolve to try playing goalie, at least once.
I resolve to not eat Taco Bell on game day. Never, ever, ever. 

Any of the above apply to you? Or do you have your own Hockey New Year’s Resolution?