JMS Hockey Blog

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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?

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!