Guest writer (origin story): Will Ong

WORLD EXCLUSIVE

Just back from a nasty “lower body injury”, Will Ong has found time to give us his hockey origin story. Good to have you back on the ice, Will, and this is a really good piece. I’m learning so much about my fellow hockey travellers through these origin pieces. Might have to get you to talk me through outside edges one more time …

How hockey scratched that itch

By Will Ong

My hockey journey started a few years ago after returning from a working holiday in Canada.

Our band of Aussie and Kiwi travellers lived in Cowtown – home of the Calgary Flames and Stampede.  Only a few of us knew anything about hockey.  Being poor travellers we couldn’t afford tickets to the Saddledome to see what this “ice hockey” was all about.  We had to settle with watching the Flames at the local sports bar while smashing down 50c wings.  (Flames smashing Wings?!)

We did manage to scrape together the Toonie charge to get into the local college match though.  It was the Mount Royal College Cougars – women’s team.  We did Bay 13 proud with our vocal support for the local girls!

Little by little, we were being indoctrinated into the national sport.

But I wasn’t there for the hockey.  I was chasing winter round the globe.  Chasing fresh pow, skiing pillow lines on bluebird days while working on my goggle tan. You know, all that spiritual stuff that Jonny Moseley talks about in Warren Miller films.

Castle Mountain, in the Rockies. Will’s pre-hockey life. (Remember when we had pre-hockey lives?)

Life was all about hitting up the biggest and baddest resorts in the Rockies. Take your pick from Fernie, Revelstoke, Kicking Horse, Sunshine, Castle Mountain…  Life as a ski bum was great!

Then after months of living the life, Sunshine Village ended my season. I flew home to Melbourne broke, broken and bummed.
What now? Where’s the next challenge?  It should have been hitting that unexplored out-of-bounds chute. But instead I was back home bumming accommodation from old mates, sleeping on a beanbag on the floor, unemployed and un-excited about life.

Do I dust off the in-line skates and head back to my favourite vert ramp in Albert Park? In-line had been my off-season saviour to keep the legs working between winters. Something to keep me challenged. Something to scratch that itch.

“Aggressive” in-line had grown to become as important as skiing in my life. It was frustrating when I couldn’t quite get back to where I was on the ramp. Airs were off, grabs were mis-timed, spins and flips all bailed to knees.  Sunday afternoon sessions were never the same.  Where did all my balance and confidence go?  Left on the slopes of Canada, I bet.

So when a workmate mentioned hockey classes at the Icehouse, I signed up immediately. They were six week programs back then. Most of us were pumped through the system and I found myself playing Winter hockey in no time. Keeping up with the play wasn’t a problem at all.  Chasing down the puck like an over-enthusiastic kelpie chasing sheep. A little round black sheep that I didn’t know what to do with once I caught it.

Having so much skiing and skating muscle memory was a big advantage for beginner hockey. Edge control translated verbatim from the mountains. Holding an edge in big GS turns while blasting down a piste and reacting to changes in terrain under foot was a hell of a primer for skating. Pivots and changes of direction translated almost perfectly from in-line. But I had to start from scratch with passing, stick handling, shooting, positioning and teamwork.

Hockey is such a deep sport. I can’t think of anything else that combines so many different attributes into the one activity. Strength, speed, balance, agility, endurance, finess, style, fighting – hockey has it all.

So here I am now, a couple of years into my “hockey career”. I have played a season or two with an awesome club and enjoy hanging out with the Rookies who are making waves in the sport. I find myself in the right position a lot of the time – learning where the puck is going to be and being able to skate there before anyone else. Being quick on your feet gives you just that bit more time to get out of trouble.

My hands are slowly catching up to my legs but I still have a lot learn. That’s a good thing otherwise life would get boring, fast!

The good mountains are a long way away and in-line was what you did back in the 90’s. Thanks to hockey, steeps have been replaced by slapshots and I’ve got a whole new set of skills to master.

Itch, scratched.

Guest writer (Origin story): Aimee Hough

The pocket rocket, the smiling assassin, the Christmas angel reveals the murderous thoughts underlying her appearance.Figure-skaters everywhere, relax.

“Smart alec man-child” … I got all emotional. In fact, I might get that put on my tombstone.

And for anybody who crosses her path, Hough is Hoff, as in cough, or maybe Hasselhoff. Woe betide those who get it wrong.

The rage behind Aimee Hough

By Aimee Hough

Aimee Hough yesterday.

Okay gang – I guess it’s my turn. My story; My adventure into the wonderful, thrilling, hilarious world that is hockey. The good and well… not so good; But I’ll get to that.

Alrighty. I have always been a team player. I have had sport sewn into every thread of the fabric I’d call my life. It was dancing and netball, but it was being part of the swimming club with my two older sisters, Jess and Kaitlyn that makes up most of my childhood memories. The Wednesday night training, the Sunday night time trials or spring interclub, where we would all pile into the bus and make the loud and laughter infused bus ride to MSAC at Albert Park where we would compete against surrounding clubs. Being the age that I was, would fall asleep on a close friend who, long story short, rescued me from bullies and has since become well…. Mine! This story is constantly remembered as we reminisce over the good old days (she says at 21 years of age). The point of this is the club environment. Engaging in a sport with people who make you feel accepted.

As I got older the amount of swimmers lessened as did the appeal of the club. Thus became a lull in my sporting activities. Netball and dance were always there, as was EVERY sporting event I could get involved in at high school but sadly it just didn’t feel the same. Enter the Icehouse. In 2010 I began Figure skating with Jess and Kaity. 8:45 Saturday morning on the ‘Bradbury Rink’ became our thing to do. We began with swivels, c-cuts and edgework. As we moved up in class we were given sew on patches… awesome *rolls eyes*. Months later I purchased my overpriced (and soon to be irrelevant) figure skates. Although soon after it dawned on me, as much as I loved skating, it just wasn’t enough. I’ve been dancing for as long as I can remember but even as we were taught in skating “arms up – point where you want to go” I was never completely satisfied. A year later, Jess decided to work/live in Canada for seven months: Insert Jess’s absence and Kaitlyn’s demise due to poor knees. This was it – I needed a change. Hockey: Here I come!

Little did the world know …

The first few weeks of intro were monotonous. Then gear, sticks and pucks came along. I’m sold!!! Not to mention the sarcastic antics, movie quotes and shenanigans that I held similar with the coaches, Army and Lliam.

Last September I travelled to Canada and was able to partake in the glorious moment of buying my own gear. The shine of ‘hire gear’ lost its appeal after the first time I put on the cold, wet disgrace that is the shared shoulder pads. When it came to purchasing gear, being small, finally became a benefit. I’ll take my junior $150, Bauer Vapor 3.0’s, any day. Yes, I may be constantly ridiculed for my less than normal sized gloves. The best one from the change room was “are they your gloves? I can hang them from my rear view mirror”…… hilarious…

Here comes the not so good part of my adventure. How many times have any of the males been mistaken for a figure skater?? None I’m guessing. Well for a female, it’s either a hit or miss. I took my skates to be sharpened, where the onset of separation anxiety set in. When I came to collect them the girl took some time. She then called for assistance. Heart rate heightening. They both returned asking what type of skates. I simply said “Bauers”. They both returned with skates in hand, huge smiles and the other guy laughing “that’s what you get for assuming”. This, happy readers, is the downside of being a woman in the hockey world, or as a “blonde Christmas tree angel” as Alex Mcnabb so kindly labelled me, or as my dad seems to think I resemble Lisa Simpson on the ice. I guess I can live with that.

Don’t be fooled. I may be a little blonde, but all I can say is ‘Bring it!’ (I’m looking at you Nicko Place). I like to think I can hold my own. I may be knocked down but watch me smile as I pick myself up and keep on skating. Especially after I’ve taken you down with me.

Since the first day in intro, I haven’t looked back. I’ve been given exactly what was missing and I’m reluctant to let it go now – A club. A family. I’ve met so many genuine people that I’m so happy to know. Yes including the smart alec man-child that is this blogs creator. I’ve been given people who (on more than one occasion) can appreciate a good movie quote… okay…more than one…okay, the entire script. But as long as I can make people smile, I’m happy.

Aimee (in white) about to take out a helpless Rookie.

Hockey has provided me with so much: Great group of people, car park hockey and the ‘trouble station’, general skate, jersey preferences, chilling at the pub – constantly, Goon, Miracle, Young Blood, Mighty Ducks (and allllll the quotes that accompany them), my first Oakleigh experience, Sponsorship, talking for hours – walking back to the car – to continue another hour of talking, ROOKIES, sharing gear when somebody needs it (regardless if it fits, so long as someone can participate), Melbourne Ice games,  the endless sound of Velcro and the unimaginable, yet unexplainable filth that is hockey smell, countless advice, ‘Recovery drinks’, shit stirring anyone and everyone that walks by – especially Army and Lliam, intro, 5 X intermediate, first ever Dev League, the upcoming Ice road trip, the Gala, Summer league and the promise of the future.

To those who’ve joined me on this Journey – Thank you.