Played so bad….and still won

On Wednesday my Kodiaks Ice Hockey team had an average game. I struggled early on, but then rebounded near the end with some good saves to secure a 10-9 win.

Yes, I typed that correctly, a 10-9 win. I let in 9 goals in that game as there were a lot of defensive breakdowns and odd man rushes. I really didn’t come up with a huge stop until the 2nd period, and I let in a couple bad angle goals. Still, a win is a win I suppose. I just wish I played better.

The last two weeks, I have been average in ice hockey. I just haven’t been playing very well, and I am glad I am going on vacation next week. The break may be just what I need to recharge and be ready for hockey when I return.

Playoff Day Reflections

Before I head off to bed, I thought about some interesting things that had to do with the playoffs I played on Saturday.

It was the first forfeit I have ever been a part of in my hockey playing days. I love to play, but I am glad I didn’t play that last game for Who Cares Brass. I had two other title games to play for, and the thought of getting shelled and mercied since we only had 4 guys was not very appealing to me. It wouldn’t have been fair to my other teams that worked so hard to make it to the finals in their respective divisions. I am not using that as a convenient excuse though. Its just too bad that things worked out the way they did and I still feel badly over that.

There are very few players that truly intimidate me or that I feel a slight fear that I can’t beat. Yesterday, I played against a couple of them. I still am human and still do have feelings of inadequacy at times. I am glad to say that I didn’t lose to either of these players. In the end though, I am always going to be battling that in some way, shape, or form. The key is to channel that into a drive and determination to win.

The 2 week break from rollerhockey is going to be a long one. I am already eager to start back up playing again. My next concern will be the scheduling and how the teams I am playing for are all going to work out next season. This season was a dream season for me. Its been a long time since I won championships in 2 different divisions in the same session. My teams were all competitive. I won over 75% of my games and that isn’t anything to be disappionted about.

Then, there is the long term health of hockey in MI. The amount of teams in this area are dropping slowly. Rivertown once boasted 60 teams, and is now down to less than half that. The other main rollerhockey rink has seen their teams decline as well. Then, ice hockey in this area is also seeing teams not coming back. Players who once played are not doing it anymore since the economy is in doubt and money may be tighter now than in the past. Its a sad story and its my hope that these rinks can weather the storm until things pick back up. Its going to take a while for this to happen. At least that is what I fear.

Never comes easy

I played very solid today. My total record was 5-0 and I won 2 championships.  It was my 22nd and 23rd respectively.  However, I was left with mixed emotions on the day for various reasons.

Game #1 – Who Cares Brass was the first game I played on the day. My team fought hard against a hungry Pfiffer Infinity team. We led 3-1 at one point in the game. Pfiffer tied it up in the last 5 minutes of the 3rd period. We finally scored off of a deflection in the first OT. I didn’t let in any weak goals which was a good thing. I just wanted to prove to myself that I could beat the #1 team. The finals would never come for this team though as they only had 4 guys that could make the final game. Since I had other championship games, I made the decision to play if my team wanted to but I might get some help in net. Who Cares made the decision to forfeit their last game due to not having enough guys.

Game #2 – Malys road to the championship went through a very tough Main Street Pub team by a final of 3-2. I played a solid game once again keeping my team in the lead. Eli scored all 3 of our goals to help our team to victory.

Game #3 – Who Cares Aluminum finished the season 10-0 and if there was anything I wanted, it was to win with them. I have been fortunate to have an undefeated season 2 previous times. The first time my Bulldogs team faltered in the playoffs. The second time Dekleine Builders took the trophy. I didn’t want Who Cares Aluminum to falter this far in. The Rink Rats were undefeated last season and I was fortunate enough to beat them in the first round of the playoffs. I remember how pumped I was to play that game and upset them. I didn’t want any teams feeling that same high today.

Who Cares Aluminum won their first game by a 8-4 score, but it was an ominous beginning. The Lightning scored the first 3 goals of the game in the first period. One of them off a nice 2 on 1 chance. The second one was a weak goal from the side of the net. I didn’t go down fast enough and it slipped under my pad. I was the most pissed off about this goal more than any that had been scored on me so far today. It was one I should have had. Who Cares started to apply pressure and get goals in the 2nd and 3rd periods. At one point it was tied up 4-4, but Who Cares started to pull away. When the Lightning’s best player got kicked out for 3 penalties, we salted the game away. Overall, a strong effort after a weak first period by myself and the rest of the team.

Game #4 – Malys championship game was against the Hurricane. A team that beat us in the regular season 5-4 and 2-1 in the regular season. This game would have a much better ending. Malys would leap out to a dominating 3-0 lead at the end of the first period. One player from the Hurricane who was just insanely good for the beginner division torched me for the only two goals. Both of them excellent shots. The final 30 seconds was hectic. The game ended with two of my defensemen in the crease stopping shots with their bodies. Final of 3-2. It was back to back championships for Malys and my first with the team.

Game #5 – Who Cares played the Rink Rats for the championship, and it was a dominating performance for Who Cares. The defense was superb through the whole game. Their passing was tape to tape the whole game. The final was 5-0. It was my first playoff shutout in over 2 years.

This playoff day was not without its disappointments. The first is Structural Standards. I wanted to play for them so badly, but with me having to play a game right afterwards, and with Who Cares in the playoffs in the same division, I wanted them to have their own goalie. My brother played for them and lost 3-2. It was sad to see them play hard and lose, but they will get another chance down the road. It was still sad though.

The second disappointment was watching my brother play so hard in 2 games and lose them both. He played a great first game with Structural Standards, and a superb game with the Rabid Wombats in a 2-1 loss. He made diving saves and toe saves. He made probably 3 saves that were just incredible and game saving stops. Its just sad that he didn’t get enough goal support.

Lastly, Who Cares Brass forfeiting their game due to lack of players. It was sad to see them do that, but I totally understand it. I have to wonder what would have happened if a full strength Who Cares team got to play the final game with the Empty Netters. I guess we won’t know the answer to that question though.

A few reflections

As I sit here ready to embark on another playoff Saturday in hockey, my mind starts reflecting upon what has happened. Overall, it has been a good season. Structural Standards got into the playoffs for the first time. Who Cares Aluminum is in the #1 spot and undefeated. Malys is in a position to compete for a championship. Who Cares brass slipped into the playoffs and has the opportunity to make some noise.

I did pretty well in net overall. However, I was streaky at times as well. There were some games I just couldn’t get into the flow of making saves. Others were just poor decisions on how to come out and cut the angles off. Still, I persevered.

Now, with the playoff schedule created, I am once again eagerly anticipating playing again. It has been two seasons since I lifted a trophy. This season I am in prime position to break that streak.

In Spring 2008, my 9-1 Fury team got beat in the finals by a score of 3-1. I played an excellent game, but my team just could not crack Andres and In Summer of 2008, my Dragons team made it to the finals after a thrilling 2-1 victory over the 9-0-1 Rink Rats team but just couldn’t muster enough to beat Lighthouse Plumbing.

I have had my chances, and this season is no exception. Especially Who Cares Aluminum. A team that went undefeated in the regular season but had a lot of close games. If we lose in the 3rd overtime of the finals, it won’t be successful. We have to close it out and do it the right way. Same with Malys. I feel we have the best team. Now I just need to play my best to help lead them to a championship.

Its not going to be easy. It rarely is. However, I feel it is my time tomorrow. Its my time to win. Its my time to lift a trophy (or trophies) high above my head. All I have to do is sieze my opportunity and get it done. Forget about what has happened in the past and react what does happen.

Get it out of my system now

I had a bad ice hockey game. Not a horrible one, but a bad one in a 7-5 loss. When I came out to play the shooter, I just didn’t play my angles right. I had the shooter go around me a few times and get an easy goal. If I wasn’t aggressive, they just put it upstairs on me.

The loss isn’t all on my shoulders. I just didn’t play well, but my team just didn’t click either. Still, in those games, I can control the way I play. I will play better next week thats for sure.

Actually, I will play better tomorrow. I will play amazing in playoffs on Saturday. I will be a champion.

I am going to hit the sack and comment more in the morning.

A tough act to follow

The last few weeks I have fought the injury bug. Today, I think I have finally shaken it loose. Not before I have missed 3 games in the last two weeks. I just hope I am truely 100% ready physically to play. Mentally, I know I am.

My confidence has slipped over the last few weeks with my struggles in net with Who Cares Brass. I have had very good success with every other team….except this one. The sub goalie that has played in my place the last few weeks because of my bad knee has turned in a pair of great performances. One to keep the team alive in the playoff hunt. The other an upset of the #3 team to secure a spot.

Every other team I have played for I have done a pretty darn good job in net with. Who Cares Aluminum clinched 1st place in their division. Malys is in 3rd place in their division with a great chance to win it all as well. My ice hockey team is also playing very well and I am doing well in net for them so far this season. Needless to say, I am very happy for the most part.

I decided that I am going to play in Who Cares Brass first game. I feel with the money I have invested in the team that I deserve my shot in the playoffs with them. If we win, I will let Woot take the second game. He deserves it for getting them this far.

I am very eager to play in playoffs this Saturday.

Goal accomplished!

One of my goals was to help Structural Standards get to the playoffs for the first time. That goal has been achieved. Structural won 8-5, and to their credit, I let in 4 bad goals. It was not my best game, but its a win. They will now have one more game to decide seeding. They win their last game, they could finish as high as 3rd. A loss means 5th or 6th place most likely. Still, its their first trip to the playoffs and I was happy to get them there.

On the flip side, Who Cares Aluminum clinched first place with a 9-3 win over the Aces who are in 3rd place right now. That means its now championship or bust for this team. An ending that doesn’t include lifting a trophy will be considered a failure.

The real bummer of things is Who Cares is in 1st while Structural will be 4th or something like that. Which means they could meet in the semis or the finals. After playing with both of these teams all season, I would feel bad about eliminating either team. I am just so confident that Who Cares will be the team standing at the end of the day. Course, Rink Rats felt the same way after going 9-0-1 last season and losing in the semifinals to my team, the Dragons last season.

Anything can happen.

Who Cares Brass has a shot at making playoffs with a win on Tuesday. If I will play or not is another thing. With me not playing well so far this season in Brass, I have been considering giving the team to someone else….then again, I am not the quitting type. I am going to play it by ear and see how I feel.

Bumps and bruises

I remember getting bumps and bruises when I was younger and healing up from them pretty quickly. When I started playing hockey 10 years ago, I would rest up a couple days after straining my back or something along those lines and I would be fine. This pain in the ass knee injury is just that…a pain.

Its not as sore or as tight as it was yesterday, but it is better. Still, its concerning to me to be struggling with it. I have been taking Ibuprofin and resting it in the evenings. Still, its a little sore today which is causing me to worry.

I know my knees haven’t been in the best condition, but I hope this isn’t a sign of things to come. I have made the decision to play today if my team can’t find a goalie. Otherwise, I am going to play. I think if I stretch out really well today, I will be good to go when it comes to playing tonight.

Otherwise, I will take another evening off and rest it. Once again hoping it is 100% tomorrow. Here’s to hoping!

Life After Hockey

With my right knee giving me as much problems as it is, it got me to thinking about my life after hockey.

This journal has about 5 years of entries. That just accounts for half of my hockey career as I have been playing a total of 10 years. In that time, I have had so much fun playing the game. I have had great success playing a sport that others have just watched on television. Unlike other sports I played in high school, this is one that has tested my mental and physical ability more than anything else I have ever done.

Now, at the age of 36, my mind slowly turns to the downslide of my goaltending career.

Actually, some of my best goaltending happened from 2005-2007 when I was winning championships in various divisions I played in. I was given great opportunities to win and I cashed in on every one of them. After going 10 straight playoff seasons with a championship, with the last coming in January of 2008, I promised myself I would never complain again about not winning a championship.

It started to matter less about playing to win a trophy and more about playing with my friends. In the last season, I have started to accomplish that. There are a few other teams and players I wish to play with a full season before I am done, however I will accomplish that.

So what after hockey? What will come next in my life? What am I going to do when I am finished playing?

These are very tough questions. Questions I am not prepared to answer quite yet. Still, they are questions that I am asking myself right now and questions I will have to answer in the next few years.

Sub par performance

Playing for Malys today, we were ensured of a playoff spot. However, I really wanted to beat this Hurricane house team that had beaten us 2-1 before. Tonight we lost again by a final of 5-4. I let in a couple goals that I should have had. One that went five hole on me off the faceoff. Another few that I just missed. It was a night of unfortunate bounces by my team as well. The other team just blocked a ton of shots. Their goalie played a great game.

I was outplayed tonight, but all bets are off when it comes to Saturday playoffs next weekend. If there is one thing I have learned, facing some adversity in the season is a good way to prepare for a playoff run. Gives the players something to look forward to. Gives me something to look forward to. A little redemption or a little salt in the wound so to speak.

My knee was very sore and stiff when I got up this morning. After playing tonight, its the same. I think my game performance was not up to par due to my knee. Course, a little Ibuprofin never hurt thats for sure. I will see how my knee feels tomorrow before I choose to play or not. I want to be 100% for Wednesdays ice hockey game and Thursday’s double header game I have. So I might be finding a sub goalie for tomorrow depending on how I feel.

Based on how I have been playing on Tuesday’s lately, maybe I should find a sub.