Things are starting to come together on the ice…
If you missed the first week. Check it out HERE!
With week one in the books I was excited to get back on the ice and get down to skating. As the lessons progress, each class builds upon the previous week while keeping the same overall structure of; skating to stick handling/passing to shooting and closing with a full ice scrimmage. New to the class this week was instructor Katie who helped my group, the beginners, with their skating and passing instruction. Hats off to her, as even with her being brand new to the instructor team, she did a great job breaking down the basic blocks of skating and passing and making them accessible. There were a few students (including myself) with some noticeable breakthrough moments on their blades tonight.
One overarching theme that came from Wednesday’s night lesson was to stay low. The traditional “hockey stance” requires a solid knee bend the whole time, and if you’re not used to it, can be really hard to keep up for more than a couple of minutes at a time. Getting some tips on how to work the inside and outside edge of my skates from Katie I found a good knee bend pretty early on in the class and tried to carry it throughout the lesson. This led to some amazing results! Not only was I able to really dig into my inside edge and get a technique down that I’d struggled with since beginning; I also nailed some outside edge skills needed to perform stronger crossover steps and sharper turns! These areas had been pain points for my growth and I was extremely pleased with our newest instructors insights on what I was doing incorrectly and correcting it.
While there wasn’t much new in the way of stick handling or passing this session, getting more time practicing never hurts. I perhaps should’ve gotten even more passing time in, as my scrimmage was highlighted by a terrible pass on my part. The shooting drills for the evening were live against a human goalie; always a fun challenge! My shot was not going as well as the previous session and I had trouble hitting net. If not for all the progress made in other areas of my game, I would’ve been frustrated by my poor showing with my shot, but having some setbacks is a motivation to keep improving my all around game and not just relax on the things I think I might be good at.
The scrimmage at the end of class was a real highlight for this session. I started the scrimmage as a center, taking some faceoffs. I enjoy getting into the faceoff circle, it’s one of the few places on the ice where my hand-eye coordination from baseball seems to make a difference and I won two of the three faceoffs I took before a team need had my standard forward role transition into a move into the defense. This may have also been needed, as during my last offensive shift a TERRIBLE pass and decision on my part quickly turned into a breakaway for the opponents and an easy goal scoring chance. Thankfully the goalie was on his game and made the save to keep me from looking totally foolish.
As someone who has not had any success skating backward, I’ve avoided playing defense. Fortunately for me, I was paired with a more veteran defender who was able to position me correctly, at least at the outset. My first shift on D was a busy one! I spent most of the shift in front of my net, keeping sticks away from the puck, trying to clear the zone and even blocking two shots; one with my stick and another with the toe of my skate! A few members of the team even told me I had some good shifts on defense, I didn’t feel like I played particularly well, but I’ll take the love!
The scrimmage ended for the night and oh my word was I exhausted. My focus on keeping in a good hockey stance and really powering through my skating took a toll. I felt like I must have sweat out a few pounds of water during the session. I’ve participated in a lot of sports in my life; sparring tournaments and catching in 95 degree plus hear, yet I don’t think I’ve ever exerted as much energy in a two hour period as I had in this class. I’m glad that I keep making incremental progress each week, it keeps me coming back and excited to tackle each week. I’m starting to think that October league hockey isn’t crazy and I might get to hit another goal post on this hockey journey. We’ll find out if I keep getting better next Wednesday! Thanks again to Brianne Brinker and the crew at Union College for putting on such a great class for noobs like me!
Just a guy who loves sports.