Luck = Preparation

This weekend had a very strange even happen in the NHL.  A zamboni driver ended up in nets during a regular game, won said game, and managed to set a few records along the way.   This was the Leafs vs Hurricanes matchup, and if you follow hockey, you have to really wonder what the Leafs have done to the hockey gods to end up where they are now.

Back on point.  David Ayres is a zamboni driver for the Toronto Marlies (AHL, one level under the NHL).  He’s 42 years old and played in the juniors.  Had a kidney transplant, and plays men’s pickup as a goalie.  From time to time, he’ll end up practicing with either Marlies or the Leafs as injuries / health breaks demand.  So while he’s a “warm body”, he’s not exactly in NHL form.

In the NHL, teams suit up 2 goalies for each game.  The backup is there in case they need to swap due to poor performance or injury.  Carolina lost their primary goalie in the first due to a fluke play.   Normally when this happens, teams scramble to find a backup based on a local short list from the home team (in this case, Toronto).  Sure enough, they get a 1 game deal sorted out with Ayres and his only job is to sit on the bench in case things go really wrong.

Things went really wrong in the second period and Caroline lost their backup to injury.  Enter Ayres on the ice, playing AGAINST the team he’s used to practicing with.  In any normal world, this would be an advantage for Toronto – a cold goalie, who is not NHL caliber, and who you’ve practices shooting against multiple times.  It’s like the lottery.

First two shots go in.  Then a wall goes up and Carolina decides to play some serious hockey.  Ayres ends up with the win and memories that will last a lifetime.

 

On one side, there’s a relatively regular guy that gets a break in the big leagues and will enjoy his 15 minutes of fame.  He was aware he was on the short list and knew it could happen, so he was ready for it and took full advantage.  Good on him.

On the other side there’s the Leafs.  A massively squandered opportunity.  There’s a very good reason no 3rd string backup goalie has ever recorded a win until this weekend.

That was both one of the most entertaining hockey games I’ve ever seen and one of the most disappointing.  Habs won at least (though they have now traded what feels like half the team.)

More Volunteering

When I was a young lad, I clearly recall spending most weekends in a hockey rink.  Either I was on the ice, my dad was coaching, or he was organizing other bits.  When I stopped playing competitively, I opted to get into coaching.  I did that for a few years, but live took a hell of a left turn and I needed to refocus.  I stopped skating altogether for about 3 years, then joined some league play and have been skating 2-3x a week since.

I make a concerted effort to not have hockey fall into family time.  The majority of my games are after 9pm.  The flipside is that my kids know I play (and watch) the sport, and they’ve been to a fair share of games in their years.  My eldest started playing 3 years ago, and I helped on the ice.  Last year I was assistant coach, this year head coach.  I figured since I was at the rink anyway, it would work out.

Which in one space that’s true.  Assistant coach is a near similar time investment as a spectator – emotionally not quite.  Head Coach, it’s about double the time.  I’m extremely grateful to have an awesome support team of AC, manager, and treasurer.  We just spent an amazing weekend in North Bay for a tourney.  The girls had a blast and progressed like crazy.  The parents stayed up late and polished off WAY to much vodka.  That we were able to experience the moments without worry is a highlight.

I’m also the webmaster for the association.  I took this on after noticing in my first year how atrocious the site was.  Updates were months apart, files were no longer valid, really important information wasn’t present.  I’m a big proponent of open & transparent communication, and I really dislike complaining without providing options.  So in the Spring, I ran a new build for the site, updated all the content, and added extra bits to help out the volunteer staff.  I also have it set up on my phone so I can make updates from anywhere.  Very happy with the results… just a ton of hours at start/end of the season.

There’s also a development stream (DS) offered through the association, but they need extra volunteers to run it.  At my level (Atom) they spent a fair chunk of time searching… and I figured my kid would be there anyways.  More volunteering ahead.

An important part here for me is that this is time I’m spending with my family, so it’s not really seen as a  lost opportunity.  The kids get to see their parents involved in the community, and hopefully they can catch the same “give back” bug when they get older.  When they age out (or simply leave) the sport, then that will be a harder decision to stick with it, or move on to other things.  But that’s not going to happen tomorrow.  Tomorrow, I need to run a game and a practice.

Rink Building Time

Winter is nearly a month early here.  The first snowfall stuck, and it’s consistently below freezing.  That means that it’s time to build the backyard rink.

The first year I had a tarp.  Last year I had boards.  I made sure to number them when I stored them for the summer months, making the setup a whole lot easier this year.  It’s more like legos… if legos had screws.  Better news is that lessons learned from last year were applied.

  • Layout of tarp on the most level part of the yard.
  • Layout of the board components and braces.
  • A bag to carry the screws and joints.
  • A fully charge power drill!
  • Tighten the tarp as much as possible to avoid folds/ripples
  • Set up before the snow

What took close to 6 hours last year was done in about an hour this year.  Including having an 8 year old on the drill this year.

 

Filling in the rink is the perennially painful part.  The most level part still has a near 1 foot drop from one corner to the other.  It takes a surreal amount of water to fill that in. A slightly different take this year is to wait until there’s snow, which generally auto-levels itself.  Then apply the old-school misting of water to build a foundation of ice.  The downside to this is that it has to be at least -10C for the water to freeze in a reasonable time and not melt all the snow.

Well, that’s not entirely true.  It can’t snow during this time (usually a few days).  You can’t stand on it for a while, let alone skate.  And it’s been snowing nearly every single day for 3 weeks now.  Not exactly easy to get rid of the snow to put more water… keeps breaking the ice.  But I’m about 75% of the way now, with 2 more nights of watering to go.

The tarp would be a whole lot more useful for a really level ground.  I could fill it 2 inches and let it freeze and be done in a night.  Some engineering work for next year.

If things do work out, I should be able to run the rink until mid-February.  Considering my kids were on it 5 nights a week last year, that’s a whole lot of use considering the effort to create/maintain it.

Plus, you aren’t really a Canadian unless you play on the outdoor rink, right?

New Toys

You know me, always with the big boy toys. Mind you, they tend to be practical rather than superfluous! No different here. Hockey toys. All of em from www.hockeyshot.ca

First up, a hockey net. Not just any net but a foldable net.  2 inch pipes, regulation size, full net mesh and hecka solid.  The beauty of it all is that it folds up to about 4 inches wide.   I can set it up in about 30 seconds, alone and then store against the wall in the garage and it takes up as much space as a shovel.  Best part, about 100$ and the quality of a 400$ net.  Great.  And yes, it does come with the corner pockets.  Great for target practice.  I need more pucks though!

Next up, a shooting pad.  You’ve probably seen these before.  A white plastic pad to take shots on as it mimics ice surface.  Well, I saw one that was 2 feet by 4 and really, all you can do is shoot on it.  I wanted something to practice stickhandling, so I opted for the larger size.  4 feet by 8 feet.  Yes, that big.  I can use a stick (minus tape on the bottom), regular pucks and the thing slides great.  A stick with tape drags a bit much though.  I need to practice with a slightly smaller stick as well, since on skates I’m a good 3 inches higher off the ground.  Still trying to figure that part out.  The good news is it works great.  Bad news is that my arms are not made for stickhandling.  After 15 minutes, my left arm was dead.

Lastly, I picked up some stickhandling toys.  First, Sweedish Wooden Balls.  Stop laughing.  They were like 3$.  They are lighter, so I use them for quick movements and repetitions.  2-3 minutes of it before a game warms up the arms.  Second, I picked up a Green Biscuit.  These things are wicked.  A tad lighter than a regular puck but they work on cement and don’t stick.  They glide like crazy on the shooting mat and exagerate any stickhandling you do, so you have to be more careful with your hands.  Looking forward to trying it out in the spring/summer outside.  For now, the mat will do!

So far, really happy with the purchases.  I’ll try and get 15-30 minutes a day on it and see what happens.  I know it will help my hands out, we’ll just have to see how much.

Russia

Well how about that?  Canada shows up and plays a real hockey game.  Hats off to Getzlaf and Perry for playing their TRUE style, bump and grind.  It was refreshing to see.  Still a few mistakes here and there and I wasn’t a fan of the 3rd.  When you consider Ovechkin had 21 minutes of ice time, no points and only 3 shots, something is going right.

Looking forward to the next game.

Couple Things

Part the first.  Insanity day 2.  41 minute program of cycle cardio.  Essentially you do specific move sets for about 2.5mins, then 30 second break and repeat 3 more times.  Then again.  The warm-up is a 12 minute non-stop cardio workout followed by a 7 minute stretch.  I got through that part fine.  If people can’t, they really shouldn’t be doing the program I guess.  Of note, 151 BPM average.  35 minutes tallied on my heart rate monitor for 400 calories.

I was able to complete 1 of the 2 circuits following.  My quads are just killing me right now and power squats were simply impossible after about 50.  I have yet to figure out how to properly stretch quads as everyone focuses on hamstrings.  Maybe it’s years of hockey but I’ve never hurt my hamstrings but my quads have always ached.  Anyhow, all that to say that I’m taking a few days off this intense program to rest up the legs.  Not that I have a lot of time mind you, with the floor renos this weekend!

Part 2.  Hockey.  Yes.  Iginla and Crosby are finally teamed up for most of the game and look what happens.  Go Doughty!  Getzlaf gets put on the checking line (hell, 4th line it looked like).  There are quite a few players who just should not be on this team and it’s refreshing to know that Babcock is taking the steps to make that clear to the players.  Show up or ship out. Oh and if anyone is asking if Crosby should have taken that penalty shot instead of Nash, hell yes.  Blocking lanes and taking shots from the point (where was that for 2 games?).  A strong passing game, outside lane zone entry, good cycles. Goalie didn’t play the puck every time it was within 10 feet.  It’s like the team woke up.  Now, there are still issue mind you but it’s reassuring to see that game as the game Canadians should be playing.