JMS Hockey Blog

JMS is a pickup hockey league

JMS Is More Than Me

by barbaragarn

I know a lot of people think “Barbara Garn” is synonymous with “JMS Hockey,” but that’s not the case any more. People post and direct e-mails to me, but the truth is that there are three admins running the program now.

I want to make sure that credit goes where credit is due.


Andy Baird joined JMS in 2007 and his programming expertise vaulted JMS further than I ever dreamed it could go. Andy is one of the most innovative, standup guys I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet, and I’m lucky to work with him and JMS is lucky to have him.

Andy’s JMS hours are mostly tech-related; he works to make the site function quickly and smoothly. He also sets up the information architecture for any program changes (like Community Sessions) or additions (like JMS Hockey Clubs).These are both huge and require many hours of planning and coding.

But Andy is very much a part of administrative decisions, from answering questions sent to to initiating new program-wide developments. While I run the program, it’s definitely Andy who has come up with the cool ideas.


Eric Jorgensen started helping with admin work last year, but he’d been playing JMS long before that. His leadership capabilities and decisionmaking made him a clear choice for captaining. Soon after, we asked if he’d consider joining the admin team and were so happy he accepted.

Eric’s fresh–and frank–perspective means Andy and I no longer have the same discussions we’d been having for years! He works on tech stuff with Andy and has contributed much of the polish to the current version of the website. It looks clean and uniform largely because of Eric’s work. Eric also helps with non-tech stuff, like answering the random questions that come to the support line or designing JMS materials–among many, many other things.

And he pushes us to try new things: the JMS Hockey Clubs are totally Eric’s program. He had a vision and a plan and now it’s a reality–soon to be expanded to new locations and levels.

Eric hasn’t been with us long, but he has brought so much to JMS that I can’t imagine the program functioning without his ideas and analysis.


The three of us partner to keep the JMS Hockey program running, changing and growing. We spend a lot of time–more than you can imagine–keeping things going. But our work would be for nothing without the help of the JMS captains.


Some captains spend an hour or more before each game–reviewing the roster to see who wants to change levels, and other admin work. They have the leadership role at the game, watching every player and paying special attention to the new ones, the ones who want level changes, or the “special cases” who may need a reminder about long shifts or less hacking.

Captains try to see everything, but they’re just one person. Think of what NHL officials miss–and there are four of them at every game. Your captain is there to help your game run smoothly, but he or she can’t read minds; if something’s bugging you, they can only fix it if they know about it.

And after the game, the captain fills out a detailed report with the notes they took time out of the game to write. Players are counting on them to make level assessments and captains take this responsibility seriously.

It’s not unusual for a captain to be expected to evaluate four or five players in one game. Nobody wants them making snap decisions, so they must watch each player during each shift and analyze the skater’s performance in light of the desired level. It’s not easy and it’s not quick.

Captains play for free, but it’s in recognition of the many hours they spend before and after games, and the time taken away from their game when they need to be watching certain players.

It is the JMS captains, not the three JMS admins, who make the level change decisions–they are the ones who keep the parity in your hockey games and we couldn’t run JMS without them.


JMS is a hockey community, and that community is reflected in our vibrant Facebook presence.

Dan Ginter is a talented social media expert and probably also a magician. I don’t know where he gets his stuff, but his news is always fresh and interesting. Dan handles our Facebook presence and does an amazing job. The last time I tried to post something I thought was new and exciting, Dan had already had it on our wall for three days. He’s always got a good conversation going and we thank him for keeping the JMS community strong and connected.


All of these people come together to make the JMS Hockey program what it is today. They are smart folks who care about hockey and want you to enjoy playing JMS and being a part of the JMS community.

JMS is more than just me. If it were just me, JMS Hockey would be small and staid. Instead, we have Andy and Eric and Dan and all the awesome captains, and JMS is vibrant and dynamic and a wonderful program.

And we all, all of us who work together on JMS, we thank YOU wonderful players for being a part of the JMS community. We’re glad you’re here and we’re glad you’re having fun!

Protect Your Neck

by barbaragarn

The player almost bled out. 

I’ll tell you right now that this story has a happy ending, but the details will chill you–and hopefully impel you to buy and wear neck protection.

A JMSer recently sent me this account of a near-tragic skate-to-neck incident:

I wanted to share this story with the JMS community. Everything ended ok, but it was very nearly something tragic.

 I was playing a regular hockey game, fun and unremarkable until suddenly one player tripped and his skate kicked up very high. 

The blade hit another player in the neck and severed a small artery. Blood was pulsating out of his neck, but very fortunately, he was close to the bench and there was a physician present and he applied pressure very quickly.

Since is was a small artery, the bleeding stopped without much blood loss, but the cut was very deep and very, very close to his carotid artery. The physician told us later that if the cut had been a fraction of an inch to one side, he was not sure that he could have been able to control the bleeding.

 Tragic injuries like this have occurred in the NHL with horrible outcomes. And the NHL has full medical support on site. At 11 p.m. in an empty rink, there’s not much that can be done. 

 I’m a pretty strong advocate for safety equipment–it actually drives me crazy that guys play with no pads or face protection. This particular incident was very, very close to something tragic… and fairly avoidable. I wanted to get the word out to JMSers that it does matter if you wear a face shield and a neck guard. 

 I know some people think they are “wimpy” or “for Mites and Squirts.” I have only been playing hockey a few years and I’ve already seen someone get hit in the face with a puck just a quarter inch of an inch from their eye (they would have doubtless lost the eye in a direct hit), someone crack a mouth full of teeth, and then this event where the player was literally less than an inch from possible death, right there on the ice at the local rink at 11 at night.

I don’t mean to sound melodramatic, but this stuff actually happens and is almost completely avoidable with minimal cost or discomfort.

Happy Ending Part 1

I did hear that the injured player had to have vascular surgery on the artery. He’s going to be okay, but he was told again that an inch to the side and he likely would have bled to death. Scary.

Happy Ending Part 2…

… is up to you, the reader of this blog. 

Hopefully this story will encourage you to get and wear protective equipment. It’s a small cost and minimal discomfort, but worth a lot when protecting your safety.


Here are some links to get you started:–bearings—-misc–more-protective-gear.html

Wacky injuries

by barbaragarn

Claud Giroux was in the news this week after a golf club shattered and splinters sliced open his index finger, damaging some tendons. Yikes!

I was thinking about other wacky hockey injuries. First to mind is Pancakegate, from 2012. Dustin Penner threw out his back eating a stack of delicious pancakes. He wrote a hysterical open letter to fans and conspiracy theorists, very tongue in cheek.

Here are some others:

  • Glenn Healey of the Maple Leafs lacerated his hand while cleaning his bagpipes.
  • Wade Belak (also of the Leafs, hmmm) had to sit out a game due to a spider bite.
  • In another freaky back injury, Brent Sopel of the Canucks suffered spasms after bending over to pick up a cracker his young daughter had thrown on the floor. Hint: get a dog.
  • Remember Erik Johnson’s golf injury? He got his foot stuck between the accelerator and the brake on a golf cart (or did he??) during a team outing.
  • Manny Legace injured his hip after stepping on the red carpet placed on the ice to honor Sarah Palin (then VP nominee, who was dropping the puck for the ceremonial face-off).
  • Beware the deadly blister:  Mikael Renberg (during his Maple Leafs tenure–what IS it with this team?) got a blister. From tying his skate laces. It got infected enough that Renberg was hospitalized with a dangerously high fever. Doctors actually considered taking his hand off. Poor Renberg had already faced the thought of amputation a year earlier while boating: he jumped in the water to retrieve the anchor and the propellor sliced through his right bicep!
  • Let sleeping dogs lie: when Sharks goalie Arturs Irbe was doing sit-ups next to his sleeping pet (“Rambo,” no joke), he spooked the pup, which attacked Irbe, damaging the goalkeeper’s hand.
  • Don’t look into the light: In 1988, Sylvain Turgeon (Hartford Whalers) was working on his car. While welding, he looked into the torch light too long and suffered welder’s burn to his eyes.
  • Popcorn purple heart: Mark Reeds (now assistant Ottawa coach) missed a part of the 1987 season after suffering second- and third-degree burns on his hand during a “popcorn making accident at home.”


I bet we’ve all heard some good excuses from pals when they miss a game! Share in the comments below.

League play with JMS Hockey Clubs!

by ericmjorgensen

For years, JMSers have been asking for a league play option. We want to keep the quality you expect but provide the options you’d like. After a lot of thinking and planning, we are ready to test this new concept.

Launching in September as a small pilot program with the potential for expansion to more teams, JMS Hockey Clubs adds a dash of competitiveness and teamwork to the existing JMS formula that people love — fun, friendly, fair and safe hockey.

We are testing at Eden Prairie on Friday nights and have invited a small group of JMS regulars to try the program and work out any bugs. The pilot program will be just eight weeks long, and we’re starting with upper level skaters (Levels 3 -5). We hope to expand if this test program works well.

The four teams will play one another in refereed games with three 17-minute stop-time periods. Each player will receive a JMS Hockey Club jersey in the colors of their team. Team captains and JMS admins will set the rosters and monitor play throughout the season. Each club of the four JMS Hockey Clubs will have its own special section of the JMS website.

JMS Hockey Clubs is fun competition with players you already know and like — to play with and against!

We hope this pilot program goes well and that we can expand offerings soon.

If you are interested, please let us know by contacting JMS Support at

Minnesota Ice Never Melts

by barbaragarn

What do you like best about summer hockey? For me, three things stand out.


I love the feel of walking from a sweltering 90 degrees into the cool bliss of 30s and 40s of the rink. Hot days can feel like someone wrapped a wet towel around my face–just getting into the drier air makes me feel almost buoyant.


I love that I can stand around talking in the parking lot after the game. In the dead of winter, people speed to the sanctuary of a warm car. Nobody wants to chat as the sweat in their hair turns to ice.

But in the summer… we linger in the twilight. The weather feels perfect, and then a breeze kicks up and it’s even better.


The last best thing about summer hockey isn’t even at the rink itself. Gear never seems to get REALLY dry any other time of year; spring and fall are too wet, and winter is too frozen. But on a sunny Saturday… just spread that funky mess across your driveway and let the sun bake it clean. It actually feels lighter after a day airing in the bright heat.


Summer is my favorite time to play hockey. Yeah, some rinks can get foggy, or if the ice sits to long it gets weirdly sticky. But I’ll take that over slogging through the snowbanks off-balance with an unwieldy giant bag. Summer hockey is awesome.


What do you like about summer hockey?

Another New Mobile Feature

by ericmjorgensen

We have made another big change to the mobile view of the JMS Hockey site!

Before, viewing your profile information and adding money to your account required that you far scroll down the page. Now, we’ve added a button to the upper-left corner of the top navigation bar:


Tap this button to open your profile in a sliding drawer:


Tap the button again to slide your profile back out of view:

Screen Shot 2013-06-06 at 5.34.54 PM

As always, feel free to contact JMS Support at with any feedback about this or other features of the site.

New Mobile Features

by ericmjorgensen

Our goal in designing and refining the JMS Hockey mobile experience is to make it as easy as possible to interact with the most useful features of the site. Recently, we’ve added two new features that we think you’ll love.

Add Game to Calendar

After signing up for a game, the confirmation box now includes an Add Game to Calendar button. Tap it, and your mobile device should prompt you to add the game to your calendar:

Screen Shot 2013-05-29 at 9.14.47 AM

This button is also available from the main game list. Just tap the Cancel button for a game you are signed up for, and the following popup will appear:


Notify List

We’ve received great feedback from our users about the Notify List feature. Using it on a mobile device, however, required that you navigate to the game’s unique page, which meant that you’d have to wait for your phone’s browser to load the new page. Now, you can skip the wait and the extra tap by instead tapping the Game Full button next to a game that you are interested in. The following popup appears:

Screen Shot 2013-05-29 at 9.22.38 AM

Depending on your eligibility, different Notify List buttons will appear. For example, if you are eligible as both a Goalie and a Skater for a session, both Notify List options will appear.

We encourage feedback about these and any other features on the site; just click the blue Get Support button on the right side of the window to get in touch with us.

Sign up for a JMS game from a text message!

by Andy Baird

JMS Hockey Text Message DemoWe’re happy to announce the release of a new feature long in the making: the ability to sign up via text message!

To turn this feature on, you’ll need to go to your account settings page, and then click on notifications. To enable text messaging, fill out your mobile phone number (no dashes or spaces needed) and verify your mobile phone number. After that, any time you sign up for a notification list you’ll receive a text message directly to your phone when a spot you’re eligible for becomes open.

In addition to receiving a notification, you can signup for a game immediately by responding to the phone number (612) 345-9638 with the message “Signup <Game Number>”. The game number is always provided for you in the notification message so you know what to reply with. Naturally, you must have the appropriate funds in your account to sign up for a game.

Some of you may already noticed this feature – we implemented it weeks ago but have been tweaking it along the way to get it nice and polished.  Goalies may already used to this feature as it is required to be “on” in order to sign up as a backup goalie.

We’re pleased to release this new feature and hope you find it useful. If you have any suggestions for things we can add or improve to the website or program, click the suggestions link at the bottom of the website.

Tracking Skater Interest

by barbaragarn

We have a new feature to help measure skater interest!

While the calendar shows four weeks ahead, not all games will be on it. Sometimes we don’t know four weeks ahead if there’s interest for a game, or if we can get ice to replace one missing game in a regular schedule.

We now have “placeholder games” that will let us measure how many people are interested in a possible game.
These placeholder games will appear in light yellow. Many will have an “I’m interested!” buttonyou can click to let us know. You can also choose to receive an e-mail alert if we decide to book the game.
Some placeholder games do NOT have an “I’m interested” button–we won’t be booking those games at all (for example: Memorial Day).

Thanks for helping us track your interest!

Early bird signup and backup goalie features!

by Andy Baird

We have a couple new website features we’re really excited to rollout and we think you might be, too. No joke this time!

Here’s a quick summary of the new features:

  • Early signup for games. No more staying up until midnight to signup for your favorite session! People have been asking for this for years and we’re happy to finally make it happen. At one point in time, it didn’t make sense for our league because of the way we scheduled games, but now we plan out our games so far in advance we found that this was something we could now offer to everyone!
  • Backup goalie signups. This is like the notify list on steroids: sign up for a game as a backup goalie and you will automatically get moved to the goalie spot if a goalie cancels.

Early signup for games

At the bottom of the Games page, you’ll see a “Load more” button. Click it, and you’ll see the next 7 days worth of games. Click it again and you’ll see the next 7 days beyond that. You’ll be able to see and signup for games up to 28 days advance. Note: not all of our offerings are necessarily setup that far in advance. Some weeks far out into the future may seem sparse or incomplete – keep in mind that some games cannot be posted for reasons beyond our control (due to rink contract negotiation, calculating demand for a given session, or some other last minute shuffling we have to do to keep everything balanced)

Backup goalie signups

Example of the "signup as a backup goalie" feature on

Example of the “signup as a backup goalie” feature on

Goalies – you’ll see this when a game you qualify for is full. This feature gives you the opportunity to sign up as a backup goalie, which means that if a goalie does cancel, you’ll be immediately placed into the goalie spot with no confirmation on your end. We think this will be a great way to keep our games staffed with goalies and provide a way for our goalies to get the games they want.

Here's what it will look like when a backup goalie signed up for a game

Here’s what it will look like when a backup goalie signed up for a game. Note: I don’t actually play goalie because I don’t enjoy being peppered by small vulcanized rubber disks. You might, and that’s why this feature might be for you.

Skaters – here’s a teaser of what it will look like when you go to sign up for a game that has a backup goalie. These games will benefit you because you’ll be able to rest assured that the game you signup for will almost certainly have a full set of goalies for the game.

Since goalies are so important to a healthy pickup game and a backup goalie could be necessary at the last minute, it is required that you have enabled text messaging for your account to signup as a backup goalie. To do so, verify your mobile phone number on your notification settings page.

Note that if you’re not quite sure if you can commit to being a last-minute goalie, you can still signup on the normal notification list which will require you to login and sign up for the spot manually (or reply over text message on your phone) once you receive a notification. So, depending on your own personal preferences, you still have the best of both worlds!

We hope you’re as excited as we are to see these new features on the site and we hope you get good use out of them!