He shoots! He scores!

The big moment: I’m in the red helmet. If you look carefully, you can see the puck just over the line to the left of the goalie. Pic: Wayne McBride

It had become something of a running joke at Dev League that I had never scored a goal. I know it’s probably hard to believe that hockey players would hang shit on one another, but it has been known to happen. Roughly 4000 times per game, in my experience.

Last Wednesday was “game night”, for intermediate, which is the traditional end-of-term scrimmage, meaning Big Cat and I were shaping up for two hours of solid game play, including the usual Dev League hour-long scrimmage where black and red teams blissfully beat the hell out of one another.

And I scored a genuine goal. Sure, it was in the Intermediate game, and sure, the puck bounced off my shoulder onto the ice and I reflex-poked the puck over the goal-line with my stick, but that’s a goal, mofos. It counts.

Big Cat gets an official assist because it was his hard, off-balance shot that cannoned into the goalie’s chest, before ricochetting onto my shoulder as I did a Holmstrom and crowded the goalface, looking for the rebound, which miraculously came.

It was such a fun moment. I did everything but stop for autographs, although I resisted the urge to ride my stick, like a rodeo horse, down the ice. Apparently, according to Lliam, you can get a 10 minute penalty for that – he had a friend in a Canadian game who got a hat-trick in the first period, and sat on the ice, using his stick to row like a canoe, and got the 10 minutes. “Why, exactly?” I asked. “For being a dick,” Lliam shrugged.

Still too many times where my legs are flat-footed like this. Pic: Wayne McBride

So I stopped short of the rodeo-celebration that I’ve been working on. Shared the moment with Big Cat, Alex, my team and then got on with things. Minutes later, as I skated along, coach Army said, with a large element of surprise in his voice: “Did you score?”

It means a lot, knowing he believes in me so unwaveringly.

Army and I have a healthy vocal dialogue going most of the time. On Wednesday, we should have received a penalty for some atrocity and I yelled out: “Oh, umpire!” and Army pointed out it’s ‘ref’ in hockey, so I pointed out he was wearing a Collingwood beanie (which he only does to annoy people at the Icehouse) and he said that still didn’t mean I could use ‘umpire’ instead of ‘ref’ and I told him to just go out there and do some umpiring (now using an affectation English accent) and he would have dropped the gloves, I’m sure, if he had been wearing any, or cared. I love hockey.

At the face-offs, Liam Patrick and I were having even more fun, trash-talking one another mercilessly. I got my stick to the puck and pushed it away, yelling back at Liam, “Did you see that, Patrick? Yet another face-off win to Place!” … Except that I had hit it straight to one of their players. At the next face-off, coach Lliam said: “You know, you didn’t win that last face-off.”

Liam Patrick v Nicko Place at a face-off. Words were occasionally said. Pic: Wayne McBride

“Do you mind. I’m trying to sledge here,” I replied happily. Which worked well until Patrick scored with a really slick first-time slapshot about 30 seconds later. Another rookie Wayne McBride was taking photos and there’s a great sequence, post Liam’s goal, where we’re both yapping insults and smiling.

And so another term ended. My third round of Intermediate and my second time around in Dev League. I am definitely getting better – we all are, you can really see it, all over the ice – even though I know what I still need to work on. In what is not exactly a shock twist, it’s mainly my skating. I was actually really happy with my passing on Wednesday – I was genuinely creative with the puck, hustled players away from it, controlled it, scored that goal, and got an assist in the better-standard Dev League game. I’m chasing the puck now, believing I belong on the ice and can be a factor (even if my attempts to rename myself “a scoring threat” since Wednesday has met with stony silence from Big Cat, with all his fancy goals). I actually think they were my best games of the term, and that one drop-in session a fortnight ago has made a difference to my passing.

… and more words, after Liam’s (very good) goal.

But in so many of the photos from Wednesday, my legs are still planted, far apart and flat-footed on the ice. Yes, there were many more photos this time where I was moving, genuinely power-skating, which is pleasing. But I really have to get my outside edges happening and I really need to move my feet while controlling the puck.

But it will come and it can happen. I’m not intimidated by the challenge – I just have some bad habits to drop. Best of all, it’s stuff I can work on in general skating, on inlines and in stick & pucks, starting tonight where there’s an unexpected 8.30 pm session.

What else would you do on a Saturday night but don rain-soaked armour and skate joyfully onto the Henke Rink ice yet again?

IN OTHER NEWS:

1. Anybody who thinks ice rinks are cold should have been with Sammy Tanner, Chloe and I on a boat, going through the Heads, last Saturday, to dive the Coogee wreck off Barwon Heads. It was 13 degrees in the water and, at 30 metres down, a lot colder than that. Fun though. Murky though the water was, my trusty GoPro captured things:

 2. RIP Daryl Joyce, a friend of mine who went upstairs to read, and listen to his beloved Cats play footy last Saturday, and passed away, just like that. Sad memorial service. Generally shitful. I’ve written before about how we all need to make the most of the life we have, right now, while we have it. Lesson learned, again.

 3. In happier news – well, sort of – a former Red Wing, Darren McCarty, and his wife have been in court, slapping restraining orders on a group of friends, or something. Strange case. Their argument is that they feel threatened by these people, which led to this beautiful piece of writing in the Detroit News:

  • “(Defence lawyer) Abood suggested the protection orders were simply an effort by the McCartys to “cut off” people they didn’t want to associate with anymore, rather than a product of genuine fear.
    At one point, when Abood asked McCarty how many fights he had been in, the judge interjected: “He’s a hockey player.”

That’s my kind of judge.

And finally, how much do I love this sequence from the Dev League scrimmage?

Bwahahahaha! (Actually, I was asking if he was okay. Lucky Lliam didn’t hear that.)

Comments

  1. chelseaxavier says:

    Congratulations on the goal! Took me ages to say ‘ref’ instead of ‘umpire’, to be honest. It still sounds a bit wrong to my ears. But while I’ve gotten used to saying that, I don’t think I’ll ever adjust to the term ‘chirping’ instead of ‘sledging’. Much like ‘rooting for your team’. Anyway, always love your hockey tales. Sounds like a quality goal you scored, too.

    • Thanks, Chelsea. Well, it was a goal. I’m happy with that. It did go off the actual blade of my stick, so that’s a deliberate shot, right?
      I’m actually pretty good at ref instead of umpire. I was only quoting a famous piece of football commentary, which Army had no idea about. Then, when I saw he was mad about it, I went harder. As you do.
      Chirping is a weird word, for sure 🙂

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