JMS Hockey Blog

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Strange ice season

by barbaragarn

With temps at and even above freezing so late in the season, I’m sure ice has been a challenge (not everyone can have outdoor chillers like the immaculate Oval in Roseville!). 

Do you have an outdoor rink? What kind of extra care have you had to take with it this year? Has your local park rink been delayed? 

I’m curious to hear how people are coping with temps near 40 and bright sunny days.

Dumb Jocks or Ubermenschen

by barbaragarn

I have been musing about this topic for years. 

Are the elite athletes smarter than the rest of us? More focused? More athletically talented? Or just more willing to believe that making that play right now is the most important thing in the universe?

When I think of the idiots I’ve seen interviewed in some sports, I can’t help but think, Gee, he seems so dumb that he would believe anyone who told him running around on the field like that is the most valuable thing he can do in life…

On the other hand, maybe the elite athletes are just so supremely focused that they are totally in mental control and able to suppress that oh fer cryin out loud, it’s just a game and my knee hurts and I’m never going to catch him anyway feeling we all get sometimes–the mental power to eliminate all other thoughts but those of winning. 

Are they dumb jocks or ubermenchen?

I’m intrigued by Malcolm Gladwell and his ideas of “outliers,” not least of which is the 10,000-Hour Rule (his belief that, anyone who does anything for 10,000 hours, becomes a success at that task… it’s just that not many of us have the motivation to do something for 10,000 hours). 
For those intrigued by Gladwell, he has a very interesting article from 1999 about “The Physical Genius.” And yes, he mentions Wayne Gretzky. 
And I’ve long been interested by the writings of clever Ken Dryden, an NHL Hall of Famer who went on to become an attorney and Member of Parliament. 

So which is it? Like always, the real answer is probably a combination of the above: someone talented at something does it more often, and success makes that person more likely to practice more, which in itself yields more success, and thus more willingness to practice more hours, et cetera.

What do you think?

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!

Cherry Picking

by barbaragarn

Guest blog by Tom Akins

​Barb, wondering if you could do us all a favor and remind players through captains or otherwise against cherry picking. It takes the fun out of the game and is not fair to any of the players. It’s probably the most irritating thing that upsets everyone. Next to me of course. Just a joke I think.

At level 2 it seem to have gotten started with one particular individual and now others have caught the virus as well. A few guys will go immediately when on offense to the neutral zone or even the second blue line and just sit. Which of course is a 2-line pass if they should even get one. 

But the main point is that if you’re on the same team as the cherry picker, you’re forced to work your buns off in the defensive zone because you’re short handed and can’t control of the puck because your teammates are elsewhere. 

Likewise, if your playing defense on the opposing team it’s no fun. Instead of hugging the blue line and get involved with the offense, you have to sit back. Some guys don’t want to do that, so if the cherry picker gets the puck, you leave your goalie naked as well. It seems to affect the entire flow of the game.  

As a footnote: I mean, we are level 2. Even if the guy gets a pass, most often he’s not going to beat anybody to the net. So he’s wasting his time.

From a coaching perspective, players are not supposed to break out until your team controls the puck. Granted, once in a while you sneak out or try to keep your defense honest if they’re pinching to much. But seriously, sometimes 1 to 3 guys will be standing in the neutral zone when the puck is in their own end just looking for a breakout.Very selfish play. The poor goalie getting peppered with no support on defense.

I get it, that some guys are so new to hockey and don’t know any better. JMS is not designed to have real rigged rules etc. But I think this should be addressed to make it fun and fair for all. What do you think?

Join JMS's Dan Ginter on a Zamboni ride-along!

by barbaragarn

A zamboni ride-along! from JMS Support on Vimeo.

New rink best location

by barbaragarn

I was thinking the other day about the rinks in the Twin Cities, and where I would hope for a new one to be located. 

I know Breck in Golden Valley and St. Thomas in Mendota Heights are both comparatively new, but where would be the best location for the next new rink? 

Obviously, everyone’s first answer is: “Two blocks from my house.” But pragmatically, which community doesn’t have a rink, but could really use one?

I live in the far western burbs, but I really think the area that could use more ice is Roseville. I love, love, love the Oval — great facility, the staff is wonderful. I know many other players feel the same way. 

In fact, we love it so much that we want more ice there! But with just one sheet, and the youth associations getting first dibs (like they do at any arena), sometimes it’s hard to get in at Roseville–though we are always appreciative of how the arena superintendent works with us. 

So that’s my first choice. I think for my second, I’d put a rink in the northern burbs: something in Fridley, maybe. There’s a hole in the arena map, bordered by Brooklyn Park to the west, Fogerty to the north, Shoreview to the east and to the south by–from east to west–Roseville, NEA, VMIA and New Hope.

Where would you put a brand new rink? Besides two blocks from home.

Stop and Listen

by barbaragarn

Guest blog by Rob Jones. 

Your body is telling you something.

Repeating aches and pains are the language of injury. Take a moment and listen to my story. I’ve been playing goalie since I was 8 years old, which is now three decades in net. I have absolutely loved every minute of it, even the times when I felt lots of pain. Many shots were taken off the knee and thigh, one resulting in a fractured kneecap. The butt of a stick jabbed through my helmet that hit my eye, leaving a mark I still have today. The opposing forwards have run me over throughout the years. I have recovered from all of these maladies, except one. 

About five years ago, I had a harebrained scheme to get new goalie pads that would allow me to cover more of the bottom of the net.  Anyone who knows me or has seen me play knows I don’t necessarily have any type of style, unless flopping like a fish is considered a goaltending style. Nevertheless, it worked for me. My scheme led me to purchase a set of hybrid goalie pads, after using traditional pads my entire life. This began my hybrid/butterfly career, but I laugh aloud at the statement because I am about the worst butterfly goalie around. Absolutely no smooth style in me. I still flop, albeit a little less in my advancing years. 

I was a player who would play everyday if I could, sometimes twice in a day. I played back-to-back games quite a bit and subbed everywhere I could. Three years ago, near the end of the season, was when my issues began. My hips hurt, and they never had before. It wasn’t just general pain, it was sharp and debilitating. During the AHA playoffs, I barely finished our three games and my performance was lacking. I took a few weeks off and the pain subsided. Didn’t think much of it.

The next season, the pain returned in a general form. Slight pain week to week, but it would go away when I didn’t play. Again I figured, “Well, getting older, pain will be normal.” I’d take some Ibuprophen and be fine. Sometimes I’d be taking four to six at a time, but not very often. It turned into taking the painkiller prior to playing as a preventative measure. But I then stopped after a couple months. 

Towards the end of that 2008-2009 season, the hips were acting up again. As I reflect, yeah…they felt worse. I played the season out, packed some Icy Hot in my bag and used before games. Made it feel better, but what it truly did was mask what my body was telling me. The more I played, the worse my situation was getting and I was not listening, not wanting to hear what my body had to say. I did take some time off, but continued to play and basically accepted the pain.

My 2009-2010 season was actually a good one. I felt as though I managed the pain well, and didn’t have any lasting effects. Sure, I was sore for a day or so after playing, but isn’t everyone? Again, I was negotiating in my head my stubbornness to keep playing instead of listening to my hips screaming at me. “My life without playing goalie? Are you kidding me? UNACCEPTABLE! The more I play will make it feel better. “  I did make it through the season alright, and my stats made me feel good even if I felt bad. My stats ok’d me to keep playing. But, the little voice inside my head got me to at least go to the doctor to have it all checked out. Had a few x-rays and I was diagnosed with severe bursitis in both hips. Doc says, rest a bit, take these and call me in the morning (or two weeks). Meds didn’t work, but I kept playing.

The 2010-2011 season came. It began with some hip pain, but not anything more than I was used to. “Hey, I managed it the season before…so what’s the big deal, right?” I kept playing, and subbed games…not many issues. The season went by and we were in the playoffs again. The playoffs went by with us not winning a game, although I played well. And then something happened. Not a point of injury. Not a specific incident. All of a sudden my hips really began hurting. I don’t remember the day. I don’t remember the time. But they hurt and they hurt badly. I couldn’t sleep. I could barely walk. 

A guy I have worked with for the past seven years has had both hips replaced. He knows my hip pain stories and had repeatedly told me to see an orthopedic surgeon–more specifically, his surgeon. He insisted I get the diagnosis for what was truly going on. Deep down, I knew what was going on but didn’t want to know. But finally this past Monday, I went to see Dr. Hartmann. 

I arrived for my 9 a.m appointment, sat for a bit and was called in. No height or weight measurements… they just ask you. Those aren’t the important info anyone needs to know this day. I got in for x-rays right away. I had to stand for one with my feet apart about 20 inches and my hips were sore. My next x-ray was done lying down on the table, on my back. My left hip was really shooting out some pain for that one as I needed to spread my knees apart as far as possible to rotate my hips outwards.

The doctor came in. He was pleasant and got right down to business. Everything I thought of is basically what was going on. I have what is termed as a “goalie injury,” along with arthritis in my hip. On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the worst, I was at an 8. I have severe arthritis to the point that I no longer have any cartilage in either hip. I also have a very large bone spur on the outside of each hip joint, which is causing the pains in my hips when I try to move laterally or shoot my leg out sideways to make a save. 

I’m 38 years old… too young for this! Alas, teenaged goalies are needing hip surgeries these days. Dr. Hartmann noted that he had done former Gopher goalie Steve DeBus’ surgery for him a few years ago. 

So what do I need? Something called hip resurfacing. Doesn’t sound horrible… but it’s not the greatest story I’ve ever heard either. The surgery actually shaves bone off from  the head of your femur and grinds out your hip joint. When they do that, they then place a stainless steel cap on the top of your femur (anchored into the bone) and a receiving cap in the hip joint.

Wow…so I can become Steve Austin! 

Well, no. Not exactly. The surgery is amazingly an outpatient one and I can go home the same day! But, I am restricted from high-impact activities (like hockey) for 6-12 months. The good news? I can play goalie again without pain. I can live day to day without pain. The bad news? The caps they implant only last 10-15 years, so this will need to be done again, and again……and AGAIN. 

So, word to everyone out there…goalie or not. LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. It may be trying to tell you something.

Changing to Hockey Season

by barbaragarn

Wednesday night’s freeze warning means things will feel a lot like hockey weather very soon. In what ways does this impact us? LOTS! 

I know gear storage has moved around–some people keep it in the garage (by choice or by decree from a housemate), but weather can pose challenges here. In deep summer, gear actually needs to come inside sometimes, or the high humidity won’t let it dry out. Yucky funky. And in deep winter, trying to put on frozen, stinky gear is just too gruesome for words. 

But lovely crisp fall is perfect for keeping your gear in the garage and finding it pleasantly aired out when you go to pack up for the next game. Ahhh… fall. 

The ice at rinks is better–no more top-layer-humidity-film, and lower temps outside mean it actually freezes after the Zamboni… no more soup. 

Changing ice conditions also mean changing skate grind for some folks. I know several people who adjust to a wider cut for their skates to better handle softer summer ice. 

Outside can also affect the postgame paradigm: standing around in the parking lot suddenly can get a whole lot colder, and people will start zipping off to their cars earlier than before. And it’s time to start bringing a post-game hat to cover your sweaty hair as you walk in the chill from the rink to your car. Mom says, Don’t catch a cold! 

The season change also affects pregame nosh; I never feel like eating a big, heavy meal in the hot summer, but I can’t eat many hours before hockey, either, so an early big meal is tough. Changing to fall means a nice big bowl of pasta or yummy meatloaf sandwich long before the game tastes great and doesn’t prompt a food coma. 

What changes are you anticipating for your hockey as we move into fall?