Rebounding from a poor performance

I played one of my worst games last night in a 7-4 loss against the last place team.  Yes, we were shorthanded.  Yes, they had more chances than we did.  Yes, they played a bit better than we did.  I just believe that we could have won if I played a better game.  There were a couple goals that I let in that were horrible shots.  I don’t let those in and maybe we have a chance.  The funny thing is that I haven’t played well consistently for this team since I started playing with them at the beginning of the season.  I can play well one week, and then horrible the next.  Its just very tough to inspire confidence in your team when you don’t have a consistent game from one week to the next.

The other thing to consider is that I will play in higher leagues on Wednesday and Thursday, and I will play better than I did tonight.  Rebounding from a poor performance is not hard to do when you have confidence that it is going to happen.  I have all the confidence in the world on my teams that play on Wednesday and Thursday nights so maybe thats my problem on Tuesday.  Either way, I have a couple weeks to get my act in gear before the playoffs begin.  I can’t play that messy and expect my team to play inspired hockey.

After the game last night, I got home and started messing around with WordPress and my theme.  There is a new version out that borks my site when I load it, so I have to dedicate some time to figuring it out before I enable it.  The problem is that I won’t have a lot of time to mess with it until Friday night or sometime on Saturday.  All this hockey playing, working, teaching, and reffing is really taking a lot out of me.  Eventually, I am going to find my breaking point, but until I do, I am going to continue to stay involved in as many activities as I can.

Hockey tonight and then heading to bed early I hope.  I need more sleep.  The 6 hours a night is not enough for me.

A big step

There comes a time in every beginner/intermediate team’s existence when they finally take a big step in terms of their growth.  These steps can be playoff wins or losses, and even wins or losses to a superior team.  The amount of growth has always depended on the players on the team and how dedicated they are to change.  Either way, the growth that my team last night experienced could be a springboard to something bigger. My Hailstorm team has had a hard time with the superior teams in the division, as has every other team in the division.  Through a narrow loss, they found their confidence restored and many were predicting us pushing through the rest of the season undefeated.

I remember playing on many teams in the past that finally took those big steps and great things happened for them.  The Stickheads were a team that floundered in the intermediate division for 3 seasons before winning the championship in the 4th season.  Team X faltered for 2 seasons before coming back to take the championship in the 3rd season.  See a pattern here?

What I don’t want to mention are all the teams I played on that couldn’t get it together.  After all, you have to look at the whole picture and when you do, you will see that there are just as many teams that take that big step but don’t take the next one.  It takes hard work and change in order to move up in terms of skill and ability.  Some players have no interest in building off these experiences.  It will be my job to push them to learn and take that next big step.

We will see just how dedicated they are to the process.  As for me, I know I must continue getting better.  Last night I was beat on 3-4 goals that were made off passes to wide open players on the other side.  I have to be able to make at least one of those saves.

A hectic weekend

The youth hockey season is almost over, and there aren’t a lot of games to go around.  With 150+ referees in the West Michigan area, you would think that I wouldn’t be working very much.  I swear I was offered to referee 12 games this weekend.  As it turns out, I reffed 7 and felt like I had done my part.  Back about 20 years ago, I probably would have enjoyed doing 10+ games in a weekend (if I was reffing back then).  Today, it is more quality than quantity.  I don’t ref for the money exclusively.  I ref because I enjoy it.  If I am doing 10 games in a weekend, I am not enjoying it by the end of the weekend.  Case in point, I reffed 10+ games in a tournament last year, and by the end of the weekend, I was happy to not ref for 2 weeks after that.  When you reach the point of burnout, its easy to just put things on hold and walk away.

This is why it is great to not exhaust yourself when you referee.  Being a good ref requires you to be fresh and clear minded.  Many refs do it for the money.  I do it because I love it.  There is a definite need for more referees that have a passion for refereeing and the game itself rather than the paycheck that comes along with it.  Maybe if I am still reffing in another 15 years then I can start lecturing to refs about this.  Until then, I am going to be low man on the totem pole, and not regarded as an expert.  Ah well…..

So far I have nothing to ref this weekend and part of me is happy to have the extra time.  I probably will take any games that are given to me because the end of the season is close at hand.  Once the youth hockey season is over, absence is what will make the heart grow fonder.  I will then wish I had games to referee come June/July (when I am done reffing lacrosse).

I am really looking forward to playing goal this week.  I have 4 games on the schedule, and I am sure to get a workout in all of them.

On the 4th and 5th days….he rested

After playing hockey the last 3 days in a row, last night was a very nice break.  My team had a bye week, but I had a business trip to take to Novi to work on some switches.  I removed some craptastic Cisco CE500 switches from our environment and installed some newer 3750 switches into the environment here.  We are seeing some incremental speed increases, but as usual, the speed is limiting between here and Grand Rapids.

The non-work thing on my mind today would have to be the USA Womens Olympic team getting beat by Canada 3-2 in the gold medal game.  With a 2-0 lead with under 4 minutes left in the 3rd period, it looked about over for Canada.  Then, a couple bounces later, it was a tie game.  The OT loss was a little tough to stomach, but I bet it was tougher for the USA team that worked their asses off all season to make it that far and take the silver.  Then I realized I have played under similar circumstances with similar results in some games.  I have also won games like that as well.  Some USA fans want to blame the reffing for the loss, but the simple fact of the matter is that the USA had that game on a silver platter, and instead of grabbing the game, they took the silver platter instead.

I ate at the Black Rock Grill last night and had quite an epic feast to cap off a very productive day overall.  The whole gimmick of this place is the volcanic rock you cook your food on.  I tell you, I was greatly impressed with what I had.  A little expensive, but it was worth it.

Black Rock Grill

I can’t wait to ref on Saturday and Sunday this weekend.  One of my last youth ice hockey weekends of the season.  I am going to take the time to enjoy it.

I am not a top tier goalie anymore

No, this isn’t a depressing post, but merely just a statement.  Back about 5-7 years ago when I was playing in the top divisions in hockey, I considered myself to be a decent goalie.  Especially when my teams were doing very well and I could help achieve a championship.  Today, at the ripe age of 41, I am not as fast as I used to be.  Yet, here I am, still playing in the top divisions and doing pretty well.  My intermediate/advanced ice hockey team is sitting in 2nd right now while my Wednesday intermediate/advanced team is tops in the league.  I know most of it is being on the right team, but I do feel like I am losing a step at times.

Last night, the team we played against really gave us a run, but we took the lead and never trailed in the game.  I was very happy with the end result, but some of the things they were doing to score goals really made me think about how much slower I am today.  The passing plays across the net that I couldn’t slide over and get to, or how slow I was to react to those great chances were what I noticed the most.  Yes, I stopped a couple breakaways and had some good glove saves.  I am also certainly very happy about the victory too.  I just know that I could have shaved off a couple goals if I reacted a bit quicker than I did.

I suppose beggars can’t be choosers though.  Here I am and playing this kind of hockey at my age.  That alone should be a victory for me and I should be happy about that.

Tonight I have some project work to do for my day job and then back on Friday to host a suite at the Griffins game.  This weekend is going to be crazy with what will be my next to last weekend of ice hockey reffing.  I hope to fit in some Titanfall, Battlefield 4, and Borderlands 2 into the mix this weekend as well.

A win is a win I suppose

My Tuesday hockey team won 7-5 last night and while it was a win, I really didn’t feel I played the best.  The other team capitalized on their chances, and I feel there was one shot I should have had.  It was a shot from the right faceoff circle that I didn’t come out enough on and I wasn’t centered to the shot either to boot.  There was a nice goal that they scored on me that went bar down.  It was almost like the Yzerman goal against the Blues in game 7 of the conference quarterfinals back in 1996.  The rest of the goals were just great plays to guys left alone in the slot.  I still expected to play a bit better than I did though, especially against a team that is close to us in the standings.  There are harder teams I am going to have to play against so I hope I bring my A game for those.

Last night I downloaded the Titanfall Beta but I probably won’t get a chance to play it until this weekend.  Titanfall is going to be just one of the many games grabbing my attention this weekend though.  I am planning on doing some Borderlands 2 and Battlefield 4 as well.  With me refereeing this weekend, I know that will bite into my available free time for gaming, but that is ok.  My ice hockey reffing jobs will go down considerably in March, with Lacrosse reffing going strong in April and May.  I really am considering taking the summer off from reffing and teaching.  Yes, I have games I want to play, but I really need the time to recharge my batteries.

New Challenge – Writing a little everyday

In the past, I have used my blog to discuss various things going on in my life when it revolved around hockey, reffing, gaming, vacationing, and other things.  Last year, I got out of habit of doing this.  Time went by, and while I had the desire to blog things, I never really jumped back into it.  Status updates on twitter and Facebook were about as extensive as I got.  It wasn’t until I took a little inspiration from a friend of mine that I decided to resurrect my blogging habit.  I have been taking the time to read Bobby Evenhouse’s blog for a while now, and a recent post called “No Matter What, Write Everyday” really did inspire me to change my habits for the better.

Why did I create this blog in the first place?  To remember all the great times I had in my life.  To maybe take the information and write a biography one day.  I have seen the title of the book in my mind a few times….

MeinGoalMy Life as a Rec League Goaltender

Yea, cheesy I know, but I could write a 100-200 page book on everything that has happened.  From many of the games I have played, championships win and lost, and all the interesting people I have gotten to know through playing hockey through the years.  I don’t know if writing a book is in my future, but I am seriously considering it.

When it comes to writing though, if I am not putting these things down on my blog, then it is kind of hard to put them down in a book later.  Memoirs are worthless if you aren’t writing them down somewhere.  So consider this a blog reboot or a rebirth of a writer.

 

Not the fresh start I was looking for

I really was looking forward to kicking back into gear this week with playing more hockey.  The thought was that with me playing more, I would start playing better than I was over the summer and only playing once a week.  I had gotten complacent, and when I have gotten comfortable and complacent, my performance suffers.  This week I thought I had more of a focus coming into both my games.  I played decent, but still lost both games.  I say decent because it really was a C or B- effort at the best.  I just did not play the way I should have.  I allowed a couple really crappy goals in both games, even though I made some very solid saves on breakaways and other prime scoring chances.  Still, those crappy goals are back breakers that I should have never allowed.

I was fuming last night after our loss, and that carried over in the locker room.  I had a pretty piss poor attitude about things, and really had no reason to go down that road.  Its just a game, and a rec hockey league game at that.  After you put things in perspective like that, it gets a lot easier to digest and move on from.

Still, this really wasn’t the way I wanted to start.  I feel like I haven’t played well in the last few months, and I think one of my teams is very frustrated with me.  Sure, they like me, but there is a big difference between a goalie that you just like and one you want to win with.  I hate losing more than I like winning, and I have tried to build my teams with that kind of mentality.  Well, if someone on the team is well liked but not performing, how long will it be before that person is kicked to the curb?  Especially when that someone is me.

I am expecting a much better performance in net in all 3 games I play next week.

Why I push myself

Starting next week, I will be playing hockey 2-3 times per week.  Then, a month later, I will be teaching a class or two (don’t know how many yet) in the evenings.  Shortly after that, I will be resuming refereeing adult and youth ice hockey.  All this while carrying a full time job, wife, continuous learning, working out, and other responsibilities.  I have been asked by many people how or why I continue to push myself that hard, and all I can say is that I enjoy it.

Sitting idle really is the most boring thing to me.  Since I was young, I have always tried to better myself.  To build upon a good year by surpassing it with a better next year really is something I have grown to embrace.  This goes for everything from work to play.  As I have gotten older though, I have found that physically, trying to do things better every year may not be the most achievable.  I am not as quick as I once was.  Part of bettering yourself is getting out there and honing your skills.  Playing hockey once a week has not made me a better player.  I was playing better when I was playing 2-3 times a week on a regular basis.  Just like I will be a better college instructor when I am teaching more than once a week.  Just like I will be a better referee when I ref more than once a week in the fall/winter/spring.

I realize that as I get older, my skills in net are going to diminish.  I am concentrating on bettering myself right now and for the immediate future.  We all should be looking to make ourselves a little bit better every day.  It could be anything from physical to mental.  It could be a skill-set or a way of acting.  This is why I push myself and why I am going to be pushing myself hard starting this month.  No more sitting idle.

Coming back is the hardest part

That ankle sprain took me out of the working out and hockey game for a couple weeks.  Since I came back, my game has been up and down.  When I have played well, I have been solid.  When I have sucked, it has been pretty bad.  I think the biggest challenge has been to keep my confidence up.  When your team is the big fish in the pond and better than the competition, then you are going to have more confidence.  I cannot rely on the talent of my team alone to win games.  I have to be better and get better every game.

So far, that hasn’t happened.

Two weeks ago, I had a very solid game.  Tonight, I stunk up the place.  That really isn’t good for the confidence of my team thats for sure.  They won’t say it, but I know where the blame lies and it starts in net.

Going to start playing rollerhockey next week, and with the additional workload, I am hopeful that my game will get better.  I really was playing well when I was going 2-3 times per week instead of just 1 time a week or less.