Chapter 8: The Puck Stops Here
(The Hockey Bag series was previously published on NHL.com)
These past two winters have found me learning and acquiring a lot to do with hockey. Now that I have great new gear, am getting better in powerskating class (ask the Dragon Lady!), and have actually started playing (yay Hockey Bags!), the next challenge is remembering what to do when in possession of the puck…
Because for me, the puck evokes temporary amnesia.
I kid you not. It comes in contact with my stick, and everything I’ve learned up to this point is instantly forgotten. For example, like how to skate.
It’s been my tendency to touch the puck – and fall down. Sometimes, I don’t even have to touch the puck. I can simply be in the general vicinity of it – and fall down. Or skating towards it, with the realistic chance of being the first one there – and fall down.
It’s gotten to the point where it’s become quite predictable, perhaps even comical. At least in my own mind.
But fortunately, I’m an optimist, and believe there is a positive to every negative; a silver lining in every dark cloud; an epiphany between the red and blue lines on every sheet of ice. So the good news here is… The falling down trend indicates that I’m actually GETTING possession of the puck. It’s starting to happen. And that’s a good thing.
In my first few games I avoided the puck. Because as soon as I got it, everyone would just chase after me and make me nervous, and that in turn would cause me to quickly dump it off to someone else. ANYONE else. Even if they were on the other team.
Now I’m finding I want the puck. Even if I’m still not quite sure what do with it once I’ve got it. And even though it’s become my tendency to touch the puck – and fall down.
The other good news is… The falling down trend indicates that I’m no longer afraid of falling down. The idea of wiping out used to scare me, and stop me from really pushing myself. Between powerskating classes and hockey games, falling down has become a familiar and integral part of my routine. And when dressed like a gladiator in all that hockey equipment, it usually doesn’t hurt.
I’m confident the Easton gear keeps me well protected when crashing into the boards, slamming into the ice, or randomly taking out unsuspecting players (including my own teammates) who happen to be innocently gliding too close to me. So I’ve let go of the fear of falling, and freely accept it as one the realities of learning the game.
But the bad news in all of this is… Did I mention it’s been my tendency to touch the puck – and fall down???
That’s one trend I hope to change quickly, by stepping up my conditioning with an extra hour of “stick-and-puck” each week. It’s my chance to go out and skate for 60-minutes, just me and my puck. I’m hoping we’ll bond a bit better after a few sessions and several more possessions. I’m also hoping that soon it will become second nature to skate and touch the puck at the same time.
Without the rest of me touching the ice.