Back in photography mode again

When I “retired” from photography, I didn’t think I would be doing it again anytime soon.  My equipment is showing its age, and I really lost my motivation to shoot photographs.  Its been about a year since I did any serious shooting, and when I got the opportunity to do the Midwest Regionals here in Grand Rapids, I took the opportunity.

Cornell nets the game winning goal to advance past Northeastern (photos: Christopher Brian Dudek).

Cornell and Northeastern started it off, but it was Cornell that won of a last minute goal to break a 2–2 tie and win it in regulation.

BSU goaltender Matt Dalton celebrates with the Beavers (photos: Christopher Brian Dudek).

Bemidji State put a serious hurting on Notre Dame by a 5–1 final.  They then took care of Cornell the next day by winning 4–1.  Should have been 5–1 but they somehow were offsides on an empty net shot.  Still, Bemidji state played great.

Matt Dalton made 25 saves for Bemidji State Sunday (photos: Christopher Brian Dudek).

Their goalie Matt Dalton was exceptional in net.  I cannot tell you how many chances he stopped in the game that should have went in but didn’t.

Matt Dalton of Bemidji State makes a save on Cornell's Michael Kennedy as Graham McManamin slides in. Bemidji State is headed to Washington, D.C., after completing an historic run through the Midwest Regional.

This was the best shot of the game.  A one time shot right on the doorstep that Dalton just snagged out of midair.  He absolutely robbed Michael Kennedy from Cornell.

What a great weekend of college hockey.  My interest in photography has been renewed.

All things considered

It was a very successful week all things considered.  I suffered my share of losses this week, but I feel very good.  Maly’s suffered a defeat, but they are still in the playoff picture.  I got a 8-0 shutout with Marketlab.  Lastly, my ice hockey team won their game 8-3.

I am not saying I was happy with my performance with the Stick Heads or with Structural Standards.  I just couldn’t make a save on the weak side all night with the Stick Heads as we lost 8-5 or something like that, and my game with Structural was very sobering in a 11-8 loss (2 empty net goals, but still depressing).  I had pucks going in that went off me first all the time.  I was the most disappointed with the Structural game more than any other game I have played in a while.  We knew it was going to be a tough season, but I have not done my part in playing strong in those big games.

Now I am looking forward to a nice relaxing weekend.  Well, I wouldn’t say relaxing.  I am going to be taking pictures for US College Hockey Online at the Midwest Regionals  on Saturday and Sunday evening.  Thats a lot of fun, but busy work at times.

An end to a great season

In a very hard fought game, Donkey Punch came up just 1 goal short in a 4-3 loss to the Phantoms in the finals. After the game, I started going back in my head thinking of the mistakes I made. I made a couple of them, but I also came up with some good saves in that game as well. I really can’t fault myself for the loss, but I can say that Woot, the opposing goalie, outplayed me. He faced a lot of shots and came up solid on all of them.

I was shaky in my stops as I had problems controlling my rebounds. The Phantoms also capitalized on their chances and bounces in the game which is more than my team did. Still, at the end of the game, a 4-3 loss isn’t bad. It was a good hard fought game that could have went either way. Since its a one game final playoff, the bounces went the way of the team that won.

Sure, I was disappointed in the end result, but after reflecting on it for the drive home, I really can’t be too upset. I have had more success playing hockey than many people will have in their lifetimes. Its hard to top 24 championships and a two year span where I just played out of my mind in playoffs. The next playoff games I can look forward to would be in about a month for the Rivertown Playoffs.

My Sunday league playing days are over….for now. Not because we lost, but because I am cutting back a bit in my goaltending. No more Friday-Sunday hockey for me. I may even cut back one additional day like Tuesday. I haven’t decided yet. With my MBA classes starting up again here in a little over a month, I want to be ready to resume my classes. It really was hard for me to apply myself when I have hockey 4-5 times a week.

Ah well, enough complaining. Here is to hoping this week goes by smoothly when it comes to work and hockey.

Playoff hockey

Sunday I will have the opportunity to achieve one of my goals.  This year, I wanted to hit 25 championships in hockey.  I have 24 thanks to the hard work of my Marketlab team last season.  I have the opportunity to hit 25 tomorrow with a win over the Phantoms.  A team we have went 2-1 against this season.  The winner of this game is going to be the team that wants this game more than the other.  Pure determination will be the factor.  Trust me on that one.

It is something both teams have lacked at times.  The first few games we played the Phantoms, we have held that edge.  Last game we lost to them, they had it.  Now, with a championship on the line, I have to wonder which team is going to show up to play.  So far in playoffs, I have not been fond of my teams ability to put the puck in the net and show that grit and determination.  The little things like capitalizing on your chances has not been our strength.  I am expecting a strong push tomorrow from both teams, excellent goaltending, and a very close game.

Obviously, I want to be the one to come out on top.  It won’t be easy, but nothing ever comes easy in games like these.  I have never won an easy championship and tomorrows game will be no exception.

A little bit of luck

After having a bout of bad luck a few weeks ago, I got off to a very lucky start tonight.  In my Marketlab game, a shot from the point went off the post and hit me in the back.  It stopped in the crease and one of their forwards had a open net to just tap it in.  Instead, he shot it wide.  We score on the rush just seconds later.  That is the way it worked out for us as we rolled to a 11-4 win.

My luck continued with Structural, but in the end we just got outhustled as we lost 7-2.  I have to really hand it to Structural for playing as hard as they did.  The team I shutout last week with Marketlab just would not be denied as Guns of Pablo just outhustled us.

Marketlab now stands in 3rd or 4th place.  We have a good opportunity to fight our way into one of the top two positions before the end of the season.

Structural can still make one of the playoff spots as well with 4 games to go.  I am going to do the best I can for them.

It finally cracked

Today I was getting ready to play some ice hockey when I noticed the bottom of the shaft paddle of my goalie stick was cracked a little.  I have been playing with this TPS Graphite stick for a long time (about a year I believe) and after all these games it is finally giving out.  Just a bummer that it is happening now because I have two games tomorrow and I will have to JB Weld it before next week.  I will post some pictures of the stick tomorrow.

Otherwise, I had a pretty relaxing game tonight.  It turned into a shootaround because we only had 3 guys and had to forfeit.  It was still a lot of fun and I needed the work.  The other goalie was quite good and looked like he had been playing a long time.  He was better than me thats for sure.

I figure with all the struggles I had in ice hockey this season, I needed the extra work before we start playing again.

Coming back

After a very rough start for most of my teams, they are starting to make a comeback.  Malys started 1-2 and is now 4-2 after a big win last night.  Marketlab started 0-2 and is now 3-2 with a big opportunity to go 4-2 on Thursday.  The Stickheads are not out of the playoff picture yet.  Lastly, after a rough start, Donkey Punch finished 2nd in the playoff round robin and will play the 1st place Phantoms for the championship.

Last week Thursday was a real eye opener for me.  I expected Structural would move up to 3-2, but they ended up getting killed 8-4 after giving up the first 8 goals of the game.  Then, I got a 7-0 shutout with Marketlab to increase their record to 3-2.  Just further proof that you can’t count on a win in this division.

This coming Sunday’s championship game will be the last game I play up at Laser Skate for a little bit.  I am cutting back on the amount I am playing and going to be subbing part time as required.  My ice hockey isn’t going to suffer though.  After Kodiaks dropped out of the playoff picture last week, I got a call from another team at Georgetown that needs a goalie the rest of the season.  I am going to take them up on it because its on Wednesday nights and I have those nights free right now.

Overall, hockey is going very well.  Job is going very well.  I have no complaints.

Not a single big save

Usually in any big game, I am relied upon to make a few big saves in order to secure a win.  Especially in a playoff game.  After getting thumped 11-4 last week by this KBS team, I came into this new game with a new approach.  I came in focused and ready to play.  I got ready early, stretched out, took shots from my teammates in warmup and really focused on my positioning.  I felt ready to play this game because I was mentally prepared for it.

The game really went back and forth.  We chipped in goals while all their goals were being scored by one line.  Two guys on their team got 10 goals in the game.  We spread our scoring around.  In the end, the final was 13-11 after they added an empty net goal.

My performance?  Average.  For all the focus and trying to play positionally, I really didn’t do as well as I had hoped.  Not a single big save in that game.  I let in a couple weak goals that I should have had.  Overall though, the defensive breakdowns killed us.  The two guys on their team that scored all their goals penetrated through everyone multiple times or capitalized on weak side goals all night.  I stopped a few of their shots, but a vast majority found their way around me.

It was just a sad ending to a fun season.  Once again, I am still searching for that all important first ice hockey championship that just seems to elude me and the rest of this team.  At the beginning of the season, I thought this might be the team that would compete for that trophy.  Now, I wonder if everyone will come back in a couple months to do it again over the summer.  Sure, everyone says they will return, and I am hopeful.

I make no excuses for the way I played.  I played an awful last half of the season.  It was uninspired and I brought no focus to the games.  I should have played better than I did, and next season will be a testament to that.  I made a promise to myself I am going to be more focused than I was this season.  Sure, I will have fun, but I just gotta get my swagger and focus back in the game.