Guest writer: Liam Patrick on life and hockey

I know, right? You not unreasonably assumed this blog would be devoted (possibly at 7 pm Sunday, minutes after stepping off the ice) to long, glorious, over-written accounts of my first ever official hockey game, as a Spitfire Interceptor … an endless narrative of our 4-2 win over an Ice Wolves team, including my first official hockey ‘point’, for an assist on a Jimmy Smith goal, with Big Cat also picking up his first Ice Hockey Victoria point for a second-assist.

But no. I’m far too humble for such self-indulgences *

Instead, my longtime foe-friend Liam “Apollo Creed” Patrick bobbed up with a piece about where his head’s been at after making his debut on Sunday in the Spitfire Fighters’ 11-1 win over the Jets.

So over to guest writer, Liam (who scored a sweet goal, btw, in that win)  …

Hockey within the jigsaw

By Liam Patrick

So no need to admit I’m an “Ice” addict right?  I stunned myself the other week adding up my hockey costs; suffice to say I stopped and decided just to start cutting back (hence my emotional retirement from Dev league *waves to equally devastated fans*).  But lately I’ve been wondering – just what it is that I want out of playing hockey?

Liam Patrick (No. 28) in action for the Spitfire Fighters on Sunday. Pic: Nicko

I have played team sports all my life (some would argue I am no good at solo sports as there is nobody there to carry me). I love the camaraderie of a strong team, however, I am deeply entrenched with many close friends at my cricket club.  So that fills that need – hockey is the icing on the cake in terms of that (but cake NEEDS icing and I wouldn’t want to give up my newly found hockey family).  I hardly skate very fast, handle the puck like it has a mind of its own and shoot like I’m on my 5th hip replacement.  So it’s not a sense of being excellent at something.

I believe it’s more of the challenge.

A peak to scale.

People to prove wrong.   People to prove right…

The ability to surprise myself.

Combine this with the camaraderie and mateship I have found, plus the joy I get when I finally nail something on the ice and that is why I am hooked into hockey.  Ok, so that’s why I love the sport.  It brings me a lot of enjoyment.  Whether I hit the ice Friday night at NLHA, in my number 28 Jets jersey or just hanging laps of the Bradbury with my mates (tweeting love song dedications or accidently punching Wunders in the mouth while proving I can figure skate with the worst of them) I love being there.  I love watching the Ice boys play their physical, fast and awesome brand of hockey.  I love tuning in to the radio or stream of a Pens game (no lockout commentary) or extolling the virtues of S Crosby, E Malkin & Co to anybody who will listen.  The game brings me a lot of happiness (as do the friendships I have formed from it).  That’s the base level of what I want from hockey.  To play (or watch) and enjoy myself with friends.

That’s all it ever will be.  The only time I will wear an Ice jersey is from behind the glass cheering.  My only NHL experiences will be as a fan.  I know that.  I know that Prem A is never going to happen for me.  At 22 I’m relatively young by Rookies standards, but I’ve only just gone 12 months in the game and I’m not naturally talented at any facet (other than annoying both teammates and opposition alike).

But I’m a person who needs goals, otherwise I fade off.  12 months ago that goal was to make a summer team.  6 months ago that was to make what was newly christened as the “Spitfires”.  Sunday afternoon I ticked that goal off.

What is the next thing I needed to work towards to stay motivated?  It needed to be something that provided mutual benefits for where I was at now.  It needed to force me to become a better player.  Logically it’s making a Prem C team sometime down the track.  Is that next season? Not sure.  Is it five years from now? Maybe.  There’s another reason for why I consider this an end goal.  My cricket season clashes horrifically with summer.  I’m giving both sports 80% of the attention they deserve.   It feels like in many ways I’m letting all my teammates and club mates down.  Quitting cricket was never an option to play hockey.  The only option is to get good enough to play during winter.

So, whilst I play for the love of the game, and I know I’m never going to go very far (maybe playing checking hockey, one day down the track) I need to commit to my development.  Who better to ask for help than NLHA Sensei – Joey Hughes.

I chewed the fat with Joey (pardon the pun) before bootcamp.  We covered off points such as my fitness, my skating and some stupid habits I’m developing, my thought process, where I was playing on my summer team and how to become better, my diet and even my sleeping patterns (10pm hockey and 7am work just do not work out well unfortunately!).  Anybody who knows me would know I’m not the smallest guy.  I eat a lot of crap.  I work in the alcohol industry and get lots of samples and allocations.  Coca Cola is my favourite drink however, followed by Solo.  Both can be consumed en masse whilst sitting on my couch.  Finely tuned athlete right here.  If it weren’t for the 6-plus days per week of sport or training I undertake I would most likely be on one of those TV shows unable to get out my house without the jaws of life.

Guess who just scored? Oh yeah! Pic: Nicko

I walked away from our chat feeling positive as I inevitably do after a chat with Joey (seriously if we went to war tomorrow can he give us the speech before we go over the trenches?).  But then questioned myself.  I’ve done the whole “lets get fit, eat right, lose weight” etc before.  Both my grandfathers died of heart attacks, one in his 50’s.  Yet I still haven’t been motivated enough to eat well.  The sleep thing is hard to fix even with a few ideas Joey gave me.  Cricket hasn’t motivated me.  What makes hockey different? As I said – I’m not on the road to be a super star.  I play for the love and enjoyment.

On the flipside I enjoy improving at hockey and think I have lots more in me and my fitness is holding me back from some of it.  I definitely need to lose some kg’s.  My family history in the health department needs considering.  Can hockey provide me more than just enjoyment?  Can it provide the basic components to improve my health – fitness, supportive people around me and the advice of people such as Joey or Martin Kutek?

I don’t know the answer.  It’s easy to focus on my sport as an outlet socially.  It’s where my friends are, I’m single with no kids and outside of work and my deferred bachelor’s degree I have no responsibilities.  Perhaps it will prove the motivation and means I need and in addition to giving me an enjoyable outlet it will improve my wider life (again, no pun intended).

Maybe it won’t.  Hockey is just a puzzle piece in a wider jigsaw that is yet to be completed.  Maybe I’m unique? Or maybe there are others wondering where this addiction fits into their lives?  Maybe some people know exactly what hockey means to them, where the lines and drawn and where it sits in the scheme of their lives?

But like all things in life – I’ll never know if I don’t try it myself.

* Nicko’s assist on Jimmy’s goal? Video available on Facebook.

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