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I missed hockey.

I missed it oh so much.

Hey everyone! Yes, I live!

I didn’t mean to leave you wanting, I just didn’t have much to say…

Solo shot from 8/15/20, my wedding.

Not only do I live, but I got married and survived the worst global pandemic in my lifetime. It has been a righteously difficult period but I survived and have even accomplished a few things during my long hiatus from the blog.

My wife and I brought a new puppy into the home, so it’s now two hoomans and two pupperinos for this household. The first few weeks were difficult, but we’ve been rewarded with an awesome addition to our family. I’ve also taken time to practice playing guitar and read a whole lot – two activities that are great for passing time when you’re stuck home on lockdown!

Thanks to some friends I had the privilege of taking a once in a lifetime type trip to Mexico and see the Chichen Itza historical site. I had only left the country once before – for a family trip to Aruba – so I’d never been exposed to remnants of a long gone civilization and its culture. It was an experience that is difficult to describe appropriately. It was all at once heavy and awe-inspiring and spiritual and even sitting here now the memories generate feelings that are difficult to transcribe.

It was an incredible experience that I was almost too scared to capitalize on. I’m glad that I did. I could go on and on about how amazing the trip was, but this is a sports blog.

Custom Avalanche jerseys I got for my wife and I pre-lockdown. Yes, she is the Captain.

ABC is BACK!

The big event is the return of Adult Beginner Classes! I GET TO PLAY HOCKEY AGAIN!

I got so wrapped up in that excitement that I’ve been going to classes for over a month now and some of my fellow participants who follow the blog reminded me that I hadn’t written anything in a REALLY long time (thanks guys!). So, I’m gonna try to breakdown how the first five weeks back on the ice have treated me and the progression I’ve seen in my own abilities in this short period of time. It is my first ABC since the season in the Bethlehem YMCA D-league, so I was really curious to see how I fared.

Week One

I found out about the return of ABC on a little bit of short notice, as Brianne (head instructor/organizer) only got the okay to use the facility for instruction a couple of days prior. Being out of work, I didn’t think I’d be able to participate, but my wife (the hero of every story right now in my life) insisted I go.

She made the right call. I needed so much of what a return to the ice could provide. From the mental health boost to the much needed physical activity, a return to hockey was just the thing to cure the “I just spent over a year in a hell-scape version of the world locked down” blues. I even did some pre-class stretching and warmups, knowing that I was woefully unprepared from a cardio standpoint.

Indeed, I was (and still am) out of shape. I’d like to blame the mask for how hard I was sucking wind, but that would be a huge cop-out. I’d just been shamefully lazy through the pandemic and first time on the ice was my bill coming due. Ouch. My calves and core still have phantom pains when I think about how badly the first week kicked my butt.

The more surprising aspect of the night was how uncomfortable I felt on my skates. The area I’d felt I’d made the most progress through my first season the D-league was my comfort in skating and the necessary transitions to be semi-effective in a game situation. Thankfully, my confusion would end the very next time I laced up my skates.

Week Two

Beginner pro tip – make sure you take the time to properly unlace and re-lace your skates, especially if you’ve spent well over a year out of them…

Decided to start this week by taking the time to actually lace up my skates properly. I know, brilliant right? Guess what the result was? You guessed it, I was a thousand times more comfortable in them and much of what I thought I’d lost in the year off came back.

Well, everything but my stamina.

The highlight of week two was the instructor for the beginners (a fine young man named Luke, a local high school hockey player) asked what we, the students would like to work on and I jumped on the chance to say “outside edges”. If you followed my previous entries, you’d know that outside edgework has been the single biggest barrier to me “unlocking” the ability to skate at what I would call an acceptable level. The instructor put us to work with some simple drills around the faceoff circles to get comfortable putting weight on the outside edge and knowing exactly what it feels like when it digs in.

A lightbulb went off almost immediately. While I’m not going to lie to you and pretend I got it instantly and all of the sudden I became Sidney Crosby of the beer league. However, I can do crossovers pretty consistently now. Can also (finally) turn using both skates at once. I’ve even been able to skate on just one outside edge for short distances. I need to work on my overall ankle strength to really take my edgework to the next level, but I am absolutely thrilled with the progress that was made due to a couple of simple drills.

This is why you go to an ABC class. Yeah, you may be able to “raw athleticism” your way into being a non-pylon. Sure, you may luck into a couple goals like I did during my season in the D-league. However, you’ll never really advance your game without some instruction; whether you take a class like I have, or just ask someone that looks like they’re really good at your morning stick and puck session, make sure you get some help from someone who knows the proper techniques. Not only will your skills advance, but you will also reduce any risks of injuries. Injuries set back your development (my right ankle still isn’t at the level of my left due to injury when I was getting started) so you may as well do things the right was as early on as possible, right?

I’m going to put weeks three through five into a part two. Some cool breakthroughs happened and week four was AWESOME! Check back soon for those updates. You can follow me on Facebook and Twitter (PJSportsLife) for all of my newest articles and project updates. Thanks for reading!

Happy sporting!

  • Patrick

Patrick View All

Just a guy who loves sports.

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