November 12, 2018

So Clutch

Another win in the books for the Puck Hawgs.

Six games in a row so far this season after dropping our first and this one wasn't easy. I came out that night feeling pretty confident about my game but just as quickly we were down 4-1 early in the second period after a lucky deflection, a partial screen, a break away and one other that I'm sure was my fault.

It didn't help things as I watched the opposing goalie all but standing on his head to make save after save. He ended up seeing about 50 shots that night.

So there I stood hanging my head in self-loathing about my own play when my guys finally broke through and scored a couple of goals to get the game close. I didn't have a lot of work in the third despite a couple of penalty kills.

With about 5 minutes left we tied things up and I knew there would be a big push coming. I tried to buckle down. With a minute and change to go there was a scramble behind the net when the puck came out to the slot and an opposing player got half a blade on it. The puck was headed to the far side corner when I extended my leg and just managed to get a toe on it with my D man right there to sweep it out of danger. That's as close as it gets so it was off to a shoot out.

Some nights you get a chance to redeem yourself and come up with a couple of stops that can make you forget the softies and the bad bounces. This was that night as I was able to come up with two good saves and my guys scored two to make the comeback complete.

After the game I had an exchange on Facebook with one of my excellent defenseman who reminded me that even if you, by all rights, have given a game away you can still get that win and the rest will be long forgotten.

Defenseman: You better take credit for shutting the door late in the game, and during the shootout.
Me: It's hard for me and maybe most goalies to see the good for all the bad but I am really happy how I played the shootout because you guys did all the work to get us back into the game and scored 2 of 3 in the shootout. Glad I could do my part.
Defenseman:I think all goalies are that way, which is why it’s the D’s responsibility to hit them over the head with it :)
Clutch? I'm not ready to say that.

August 30, 2018

Proving Something to the Boys

I know it's been a while since I updated my blog. Life has been crazy this year. Vacations, moving, kids and work all get in the way of playing hockey and squeezing in time to write down a few thoughts.

My 'B' team has been rolling along at the new rink. We made it to the finals last season but lost in a crazy game that saw the opposing goalie break his ankle. We are now moving into the playoffs for the summer season and get another crack (no pun intended).

One of the teams I sometimes skate out for at another rink are also in the playoffs in their division. That team is made up of about 75% of the same guys that play on the Puck Hawgs, my 'B' team. I have no business skating out with them but they let me sub in when they are short-handed.

Last night before their playoff game, the coordinator of the opposing team reached out and asked if I would play net. That meant I'd be playing against almost the entire roster of guys who play in front of me week in and week out. I agreed.

I knew getting dressed in the locker that this team didn't stand much of a chance against them. The skill level didn't match up. Somehow it made it easier to relax and I decided it might be a chance to show the guys from the Puck Hawgs that this old goalie was still up to a challenge.

*Spoiler Alert*

We lost 5-0.

Me and my buddy Sean faced each other in net.

I left the rink smiling because I played about as well as I can, allowing mostly goals that were backside one-timers that I will never make a save on. I faced down a breakaway from one of the best, stopped a few in tight and made a few of the guys shout in frustration. But facing my own guys gave me a new appreciation of how much speed and skill they have and a small wince for all the goalie's that face them in our division.

I asked a few of them after the game what playing against me was like when they normally play in front of me.

"The one shot I scored on you, you were laid over on your side not looking at me and I tapped your helmet but I don’t think you realized it". - Anonymous Hawg #1
"I missed a far side corner and told you that spot was open as I skated by". -Anonymous Hawg #2
"...but you’re huge so I knew if I got in close we needed to make passes to get you on the ice and moving. And shoot a lot so you get tired." - Anonymous Hawg #3

When you are close to celebrating your 53rd birthday and play every week with a roster of mostly twenty-somethings, its not always easy to convince yourself that you are able to hang with them. Add to that an unhealthy dash of self doubt that comes with playing the goalie position and its not hard to see why you might be worried you are the weakest link.

Last night was an eye-opener and I think I'll appreciate the team that gets those wins for me all the more. But I also walked a little taller going home last night. I figure I showed a few of them that I'm not done yet. Or maybe they just went easy on me.