March 1, 2014

Welcome to My Nightmare

The second goal came off my defenseman's stick, rolled up his arm and rocketed into the top corner of the net, putting us down 2-1 with ten minutes left in the third.

I'd played pretty sloppy hockey all night- not finding the smooth movement I've been working on and improving over the past month or two. I struggled my way through the game and managed to keep most of the garbage out of the net. Now we were down a goal and things weren't looking good with our team on the penalty kill.

I watched as one of my wingers picked up the puck on our blue line and put on a coast-to-coast exhibition of beer league hockey at its best, finishing with a two move deke to draw us even late in the third.

Overtime solved nothing and now I had a chance to steal the win for my team. We'd won two straight to open the season at 3-1 after a winless previous season. I wanted to keep the winning streak alive.

After making three easy stops against three shooters, the fourth round began with a push off the crossbar to meet the advancing player making his way toward the net.

Now I'm pin-wheeling my arms wildly with my feet doing a reasonable impersonation of the River Dance. Somehow I'd caught an edge with my left skate and I was within a whisker of losing my balance and landing on my ass. I felt panic as I watched the shooter, who I'm sure was as surprised as I was, lining up for a shot at an empty net.

With mere feet to go before the shooter got to the crease, I somehow managed to lunge my body in the general direction of the net and drop to attempt a save.

The puck found the back of the net. 3-2 loss.

I've allowed goals in almost every way imaginable in the year since returning to the net and now I can mark another variation off the list- losing my balance and almost going ass-over-tea-kettle during a shootout.

I don't remember the post game hand shake or packing my gear in the locker room but I'm having no problem replaying that shootout nightmare.

Playing net is a humbling experience and I was reminded of that again last night.