Just when my knee is starting to feel like I don't have aliens living in it, I get to go wreck it again tonight. First with a novice game at 7 and then with a 3 on 3 tournament from 11 p.m.- 8 a.m.
I've never met a goalie who enjoys a 3 on 3 tournament, but I'll do my best. At least I'm only playing against myself, so if I suck for one team, so does the other goalie. :) Never done a tournament of any kind before, and certainly not one like this where I don't have a a single team relying on me. I really don't know what to expect, but I'm sure it will be more fun than I'm expecting.
Also getting started with the women's league out at Space City on Tuesday, but at least I have Mondays off for a couple of weeks. I SHOULD go to Scotty's goalie clinic Monday, but not this week. As much as I get out of those, I need to rest as much as possible to get my knee recovered from camp. I still can't sit cross-legged and it hurts like hell to kneel on it, so getting dressed is going to be fun.
Honestly, I'm a little burned out but I don't see a break coming for ... ever. I just need to be careful and cry "uncle" for a week if I get too fried.
One thing that was awesome about camp was that my whole life, for one week, was about being a goalie. I don't know any goalie (amateur, anyway) who doesn't wish they could just focus on that. No work, no family obligations, nothing but stopping pucks. Heaven.
And even when the stopping pucks was less successful than I'd want, there was always another chance to redeem myself right behind it. I think that helps you not obsess so much on one ice session. A clean slate is just hours away. I guess that's the trade-off for the grind that pro goalies experience?
When I play Tuesday, I should have my new chest protector on, assuming I like the Vaughn Epic 8606 as much as the 8800 I tried on in person. I sure hope so. My old Brian's is hanging together by a thread.
Speaking of which, apparently the glue in my mask doesn't like going on airplane rides because a couple of major pieces fell out. Fortunately I was able to kind of wedge them in place and get by last week, but I finally glued them back in yesterday. And a piece inside my glove has come unstitched, too. Less sure what to do about that since it's in a not very sewing friendly spot, but it makes my glove so loose, I keep losing it. More super glue? :)
But never mind all that. Right now, the Jays are on and Brett Cecil is pitching. And this new kid Escobar has flair to spare, so you know I like that, even in my baseball boys. Go Birdies! And I apologize if I sleep through half the game. Got a long night tonight.
(Have I told you I have all these KC Royals shirts from when Mr.C went to "free shirt night" there and ended up bringing me 3? So when I wear them, I pretend they're Blue Jays shirts. I'm not sure if that's more sad or brilliant.)
And because I know I have readers who love this song:
Saturday, July 31, 2010
Just when my knee is starting to feel like I don't have aliens living in it, I get to go wreck it again tonight. First with a novice game at 7 and then with a 3 on 3 tournament from 11 p.m.- 8 a.m.
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
It's been unofficial for a week now, but today your Binghamton Senators announced they've agreed to a 1 year AHL deal with Barry Brust.
If you haven't been keeping up with your stash of goalies this summer, you have Mike Brodeur (no relation) as the likely starter, and Swedish prospect Robin Lehner, who put up respectable numbers in the OHL last season, slated to turn pro. So Brusty is, for now, probably #5 in the minds of the muckity mucks in the Sens organization, and unless Lehner really effs it up, he'll probably start in the ECHL with the Elmira Jackals.
Though depending on the organization's devotion to Lehner and whether he struggles some in the transition to the pros, I wouldn't be surprised at all to see Brusty come up and Lehner spend some time in Elmira much the way CHRIS HOLT! moved up and down last season.
I thought I'd provide a little scouting report on Brusty for B-Sens and Elmira fans out there wondering who this big goalie is and what his game is like if you don't remember him from his time in Manchester and Reading. But I won't even pretend to be objective; I gave up on that ages ago. Take it for the fangirl fawning that it is.
Brusty is my all time favorite goalie ever. And I really love goalies. So to be at the top of that heap is pretty special. But here's why I love the guy and why you will, too:
- He's got brass ones. He plays a very aggressive game, with lots of big poke checks, playing the puck, and defending his crease. I've seen him play through all manner of injuries, including a giant skate slice that required something like 30 stitches during intermission, and then came back out to finish the final 2 periods of the game. Hard core, bitches.
- He's big and athletic. His strengths lie in his size, his strong ability to read plays (hockey sense, yo), his quick reflexes, and his innate athleticism. I watch him play and sometimes think, "Um, hey, Brusty. Puck. Puck. Right there. Look alive." and then BOOM, he's on it. Which is to say, he's got a very calm demeanor, doesn't have any excessive movement in his game (other than the pad tapping), but when it's go-time, he gets the job done. So, even if his relaxed style bothers you at first, you'll come to trust it, I promise.
- He's entertaining, both on and off the ice. His game is keep-a-defibrillator-handy exciting, but he's also pretty funny off the ice. Plenty of good war stories and a great sense of humor. Reporters love him for providing good, sincere, non-cliched quotes. Fans love him for just being a swell, easy going guy. My favorite Aeros game broadcasts were back in the day when Brusty was out with some injury for a while and he'd provide color during the games. Check out the videos to the right for more funny Brusty goodness.
- He makes teams better. I guess I've established that he's a good goalie already, but if you've never had a goalie who was a strong puck mover and could nail stretch passes to your defense or even forwards to help the breakout, you're not going to believe how useful and rare that skill is. He not only shuts things down defensively, but helps the offensive side of your team's game as well.
We must increase our Brust
Photo by Chris Jerina
- He's foxy. He is. It matters! Foxy goalies are way funner than non-foxy goalies. Look at him! Gah. *big sigh*
- His glove. Brusty's glove hand is quick and nasty. Many times, I haven't even seen the shot go off before it's in his glove. I dunno what it is, but damn, a good, split second flash of the leather sends me into orbit. Wear your seatbelts.
- His PIM. He doesn't put up with any crap in his crease. He'll give a jab or a whack or whatever he needs to do to keep the pesky kids off his lawn. Sometimes this annoys players. :) And where most goalies will skate off by themselves when things get heated around the net, Brusty skates into the scrum and tries to help his teammates. He hasn't gotten into a fight as pro though, and if it happens up there, I'm gonna say right here and now that I hate you all.
Sunday, July 25, 2010
I was pretty happy to see the last day at my doorstep yesterday. I was tired and banged up pretty good. My knee now has this loud/hard popping when I unbend it from a sharp bend. Kinda worried I'm not going to graduate from PT now, but the original pain I went in for didn't bother me one bit, so I guess that's something.
The practice schedule was pretty light. Only 2 hours and the first hour, we hardly saw any shots. But my calves were burning so badly, I was happy to just have a long warm-up. The final practice was the red team and LOTS of shots.
I feel kinda stupid saying this, seeing as I've been playing for a year and a half, but I realized during the red practice, that the stance I've been playing in is too high. I started getting really low in my stance and stopped almost everything. I think there's a strength factor there because being low AND mobile is the trick and that takes strength. I was pretty pleased I was able to do it, being so tired.
A friend I used to play with in Texas before she came up to MN for her internship came by and we had lunch after that. Sat outside and just enjoyed some really beautiful weather and tasty food at Coopers by my hotel. Then we headed back for my final hour of ice, the red group's scrimmage.
Chris "HOSS" Jerina and his lovely gal, Michelle, also came down for the scrimmage, so it was pretty cool to have the market on fans in the stands between the three of them. Unfortunately, I didn't play so well in the first half and let in 4 goals to 1 at the other end. But then we switched ends and things got a little better. I let a couple in, as did the other goalie, and the head coach (who reminded me in demeanor of Jacques Lemaire and didn't know my name, so he called me "Houston") says over the loud speaker, "Goalies? Jax, Houston, don't go down unless you have to. Get square and you'll stop most everything."
So, you know me, I'm thinking, "Don't coach me in the middle of a game, dude. And also, thanks for letting the teams know to shoot low."
Next shot on me? I stayed up. Caught it in the crook of my elbow as they tried to pick the corner. Ha! So I thanked him for the coaching tip, which definitely helped me seal it up the rest of the game. I guess maybe I looked kinda biased for the white team since I let a bunch in at their end and then played well in goal for them. Haha. Oh well.
The highlight of my game was a diving poke check like none I've ever even attempted. It was full on Brustyfied, knocking players over like bowling pins. I think I pretty much just startled them all so much and sent at least 2 people flying and got myself all tangled up that the chaos gave my team time to pick up the puck and get out of the zone.
It was cool, too, because I didn't think about it. And those are the kinds of goalie moves you just can't think about. You just have to feel them in the moment and go. My 1-second thought process was, "I've let a few in here and I'm not feeling real confident. I don't want this person shooting on me, so I'm gonna do what I have to do to prevent it." Apparently Chris got pics of this, so I'm hoping they turn out. I'll post the good ones here when he gets them together.
I have to admit, I was fighting back tears a little at the end. It was a really great experience and I love playing so much, even though it hurts and I'm exhausted, goaltending is really an bottomless pit of learning and growing and improving, so what a treat to get to do SO MUCH of it in such a short time. I feel like I got a lot out of the camp, even though I failed to really focus on anything specific to work on like I'd planned. It kinda turned into more of a survival thing.
But just in the course of seeing that much rubber, you HAVE to learn something.
Anyway, after all that, Chris and Michelle and I headed over to Cossetta's across from the Xcel Center where the Wild play. I guess a few of the players snag their pre-game meals there, which I understand. It's pretty darn good stuff. And then we walked a block up to Tom Reid's where we proceeded to throw a few back and laugh at the parade of douchebaggery that was coming in and out the door. At least the douchebags of the world seem to have figured out that Ed Hardy and Affliction t-shirts are over. Props for that, I guess. The king of the douchebags needs to send the memo about popped collars and ridiculous hats though.
But it was super fun hanging with those two, who are living Bad Idea Bears. "Drunk texing? YAAAAAAAAYYYY! Do itttt!" :) I didn't, BTW, in spite of a very tempting premise, other than to tell Bourney about Michelle questioning whether the Islanders were still a team. Hahaha... ouch.
Back to Texas today though. Gonna grab some breakfast and then lay my gear out in the sun to try and get it a little bit drier before I pack it all up. Another long slog through the airport today. Hopefully I can find a cart and an elevator this time to make it not so clumsy and painful. Or a strapping man. But I'm thinking a cart is more likely.
AKA the day I wasn't sure I'd survive with the ability to walk. But I did.
I played 2.5 hours of practice mid-day, 2 hours of practice in the evening, and then 30 minutes of the coaches game at night.
The practices weren't anything out of the ordinary. Just a lot of them. The highlight of the day was my friend Bryan, whom I've known for a few years now but never met, coming to visit. And his wife and daughters joined him, so it was awesome meeting the whole family and just chilling during my lunch break. Also, always funny to watch little kids get freaked out by us goalies. I get it. I would have been scared of goalies, too, as little kid. Wish more skaters were. :)
Always nice doing something like this to have some friendly faces who know more about you than you're from Houston and you're a goalie. In fact, he knows me so well, he brought me a huge bag of Funyuns and a chocolate milk! How clutch is that? VERY! Love a man who pays attention!
That night, I played the first 30 minute game against the coaches. The camper team was the blue (most novice) team plus one red group player (I'd say easily the best player in camp) to give us some hope vs. the 5 camp coaches.
I've mentioned how good these guys are.... someone compared it to the Harlem Globetrotters. They just toyed with us. It was a show. And it was an impressive show. Lightning fast EVERYTHING from these guys. But my team did a great job getting sticks in the way and minimizing direct shots as best they could. But they still put 8 past me in 15 minutes.
I had some good stops but they all have such quick releases and are such good skaters that it feels like no matter what you do, they can find a way to beat you. Having defensemen taking away some of their options helps but those guys can put the puck anywhere they want. As a goalie, it's awesome to have guys who can do that, especially when you're warming up. Nice to get some right on the blocker, right in the glove, etc.
You kinda see how a guy like Max Noreau gets it done. You get a ripping shot like that and you really can't see it. You just have to hope to be in the way, but these guys can pick the corner from center ice, so how can you be completely in the way? Unreal.
Anyway, after all that, I headed up to the Blue Fox and had an absolute blast with my Russoville friends. One of them is in the band that was playing (shout out to 100 Watt Jones!) and hooked us up with t-shirts and played the cowbell (okay, and saxophone.... and tambourine) like a beast. It was big fun watching the white folks dance like white folks. I was up laaaate and the beer glasses are really really big there. Saturday morning hit like a load of bricks.
Thursday, July 22, 2010
This is the day that was awesome, and then it sucked, and then it got awesome again. So much better than the reverse, isn't it?
Started my day by sleeping until 10. Booyah. That was nice. Yay for black out drapes at hotels. But then I had to hustle because I had to return the chest protector to Hockey Giant and buy some skates, or at least try to.
So I go to Panera for brekky. A cinnamon roll AND a power breakfast sandwich because you can eat like that when you play hockey all day.
Then I jetted down to Bloomington to return the c/a. No problem. Looked at their goalie skate selection, nobody offered to help me, so I said, "Fuck it." and headed to Blaine back to Hockey Central where the guy'd been so helpful before.
The guy being Jason. At Hockey Central. Love that guy. I felt bad because he was SO helpful the other day but I just wasn't seeing anything that was just right. But I knew exactly what I needed for skates: Under $300, widest skate you got.
He measured me and determined I needed a 6.5. WHAT? I'm currently in an 8 and I wear a 10 or 9.5 in street shoes. So I thought, NO WAY are these gonna fit. He brings out some RBK something or others. Bottom of the line, basically, but whatever. I'm no diva.
Well, they fit perfectly. He said one of the reasons my skates were killing me is because of the size difference. Everything was hitting my feet in the wrong places.
The wide 6.5s were still a little crunchy across the forefoot so he stretched them and that was better. And then we heat molded them and that was even better.
I was nervous about jumping them into such intensive action, but it turned out absolutely great. They're very comfortable. Only a bit of lace bite on one foot, but I think I can fix that with a different lacing technique. Nothing to worry about and LOADS better than my old ones. I can't even tell you. There was a bit of adjustment to the shorter blade in terms of my balance but half an hour in, I was fine. They also seem to weigh about half as much, which was kinda weird, too, but I certainly don't mind.
So anyway, I got all that done and hauled back to Parade for my ice times, which were a 75 minute and 60 minute session back to back. I thought that was going to be it for the day, but the goalie wrangler asked me to come back for the open ice at 8 because the campers wanted to scrimmage.
Well, I sucked pretty bad in both my sessions. My net was filled with pucks on the drills they were doing. I was being kind of hard on myself about that and feeling a little low and just wanted to come home and lick my wounds.
But the hockey gods smiled on me in return for coming back and putting on a wet sports bra (worst piece of wet gear ever) and blessed me with a really good game that lifted my mood again.
So much so that I'm completely exhausted physically but still buzzing. It'll wear off soon enough, but it definitely gives me the mental energy to face tomorrow and not be worried about everyone thinking I'm a huge sieve all the time. Just most of the time. :) Gimme some defense and real game action and mayyyybe I can turn it on a little bit. I did tonight anyway.
Tomorrow is another very busy day from top to bottom. Have to be on the ice at 11:45 but I also need to find a Play it Again and sell my old skates. Figure they'll go for a bit more up here than in Texas. I think I'll just eat lunch at the rink and stay there until my later session, unless I'm feeling energetic, in which case, I'll drag my soggy ass to the Hockey Lodge at the X and get a new Wild t-shirt to replace my stupid Gaborik one. Pfft.
Then tomorrow night, after the coach's scrimmage, which is supposed to be a lot of fun, I'm heading out to the Blue Fox in Arden Hills (wherever that is) to see the Russoville house band and hang with the Russovillians. That is my reward for surviving the day on the ice. :)
And somewhere in all that, I need to find a damn drugstore to get some bandaids. I ripped a big hole in my finger from lacing up my new skates so many times today. There's something about the slimy interior of a goalie glove that makes you not want to expose your open skin wound to it, you know?
Okay, nearly midnight. Time to give the old bones some rest. Thanks for reading. I know it's all been rather self-indulgent lately, but it's summer and I'm incredibly self-absorbed and that's how it goes. I still want to do posts on the Wild goalies and on Brusty signing with Binghamton. I think Baby Sens and Jackals fans should know how lucky they are and I'm pretty sure I'm equipped to tell them. :)
I headed to the rink first thing to check in and drop my gear off. Met everyone and just sat in the rink and taped my stick and took it all in. As a Wild fan, I've been hearing about Parade for a while, so it was cool to finally get to see it, even though they only practice there occasionally.
It's kinda weird to go to a rink and not see loads of little girls and their little rolling figure skater bags. And in spite of it being fairly warm out, the ice at Parade is probably the nicest I've ever skated on. Smooth and clean. Not too hard, not too soft. Just perfect.
Then I went to Al's Breakfast over in Dinkytown (UM campus is in that area). Al's was featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives and looked like a swell place to carb up for the day. It is even tinier than I expected, but the pancakes and hash browns were fantastic. Well worth the long wait and risk of getting a parking ticket (only had 28 minutes worth of quarters for the meter).
Then it was off to Hockey Giant again, which I wrote about in my last post. I'd gone back intending to get some different thigh protectors, but the ones I wanted don't work with my pads. And then I got to looking at the chest protectors again. $220 later...
Then it was off to the rink again. I'd planned to go to the Twins game, but was told that due to street closures for a parade, I needed to be there by 3. Turned out that didn't really seem to be the case as there was a back way into the parking lot (which is how I got out last night), but not knowing my way around, who knows if I would have figured that out.
Probably better to rest up a bit instead. At least that's what I'm telling myself.
Anyway, back at the rink, I watched the campers do their power skating sessions and figured out that the Red group is the top (would call them C/C+ in Houston), Green is the middle group (D+/C), and Blue is the true novice folks.
It's interesting to see how the coaches change the drills up to teach the same stuff but in a manageable way for the level of students, both in the power skating and in the individual skills sessions I tended. And that was all I did yesterday: 3 back to back to back individual skills sessions at an hour each.
Nothing too strenuous though. Because of the level of shooters, 75% of shots were stoppable standing up, either with a stick or skate or leg pad or whatever.
The best part was taking shots from the coaches, all of whom are Canadian. Honestly, if I tended in a pro game, you'd see football scores on the board. These guys just rip 'em. Not even heavy shots really, but just fast and precise and instant release. Lasers. I have even more respect for what pro goalies can do now than ever before.
The coaches beat me pretty much every time except for once. It was a 3 on 0 drill and they came up the ice after all the campers. That's without question the most talent and skill I've ever faced en masse. I stopped the first shot, stopped a rebound shot, and then the final attempt hit the cross bar. No goal, bitches!
One of the coaches reminds me a ton of Kevin Constantine, just looks-wise. He's a lot sillier though. I like him a lot. Seems like a guy you'd wanna party with.
Anyway, so far, so good. I'm having fun and feeling pretty good. Somehow I hurt my glove side pinky finger. The whole middle section of the finger is purple and swollen. Took another hard shot off the bottom of my elbow. Just a weird spot from a weird angle. No bruise yet but it hurts.
Easy day today, tending a 75 minute team skills session and a 60 minute individual skills session. Friday is when all hell breaks loose and I'm playing 5+ hours. Not in a row, thankfully.
Meanwhile, time to see about getting a little more sleep. I'm not a very good hotel sleeper. Too many strange noises. And an ant in my bed just now. That's nice.
Okay, I know I said my next post would be on the Wild's baby goalies, but I'll get to it. For now, I figure I should write a bit about my little visit here to Minnesota.
Yesterday, I got into town and discovered that the 25 cents for the sissy luggage cart is money well spent when you're carrying 50 lbs of goalie gear, a rolly bag, and a computer bag from the gate to the car rental place here in MSP.
There was a train, 3 escalators, and a LONG walk to get there. I actually lost my rolly bag and laptop at the top of one of the escalators, but some guy was nice and carried it down for me. Thank you, guy.
Then I went shopping for goalie gear. Amazing to get to touch things in person, but shopping for pads is just as mysterious in person as online. And honestly, the more I play and think about what I really need, pads are dropping down the list. I think mine have finally started to shrink down to the right size and I'm actually landing on the knee stack more than I'm not. They're still not perfect but they get the job done.
I actually ended up buying a c/a, which is one of those things you just have to try on. And I tried on a BUNCH and most of them, I wanted to rip off and set on fire, they were so uncomfortable. I found that I REALLY liked the Vaughn Epic 8800, but it's over $400 and that's just not happening. So if I could find a 8600, I'd jump on it, but most places are out of them.
So, I settled on a Bauer Performance, but overpaid for it at Hockey Giant. It kinda pisses me off that they don't honor their online prices at the store. I mean, I didn't ask them to, but those should sync up, right? Annoying. But that's getting returned today.
And instead, I'm on the hunt for skates. I don't know what it is but lately my skates are absolutely killing me within 15 minutes of putting them on. Just crushing my forefoot. From what I'm reading, Nike Bauers are the most narrow, even in wide widths, so I'm hoping between changing brands and getting a pair that's heat moldable, I can find some that will get me a couple of hours of comfortable skating.
Annnnyway, enough about that stuff.
My first day in Minnesota ended with me locking my rental car keys in the trunk and having to call my insurance's roadside assistance to help me. Better yet was that I locked them in the trunk while I was getting ready to go pick up my dinner I'd ordered. So I had to call them and say, "Um, I'll be there in, like, an hour and half." Ugh. But big props to Olive Garden, they remade my pasta for me when I got there so I had fresh noodles to eat.
That was a long day, but things started looking up on Day 2.
Monday, July 19, 2010
So, I wasn't even supposed to play Sunday. I was done, right? Done until Wednesday. So I celebrated with a couple of Cokes last night. That's what a wild and crazy gal I am. 4 days off from hockey and I'm hitting the caffeinated sodas, baby. Don't try this shit at home. You can't handle it.
And then, I'm jonesing for a little Shipley's. Just a little donut and a kolache. So that's breakfast. Then around noon I see an email: Can you play one game of novice at SLICE tonight?
Welllll, what the hell. Might as well. I like the folks there and don't mind helping out in a pinch. And it's their playoffs so it would suck to not have a goalie at one end.
It's an early game and I get nervous about eating too close to game time, so I think, Okay, I'll have a granola bar a little before game time and that will tide me over. I'll pick up dinner after.
So I go, I play, I kick ASS. Total carryover from Saturday night where I was seeing the puck well and my team was playing great in front of me clearing rebounds and making me look like a stud. During the game, they say, "Hey, the other goalie can't make the second game either. Can you stay?" Oof. Hadn't planned on it, but I've got Gu in my bag so maybe that will tide me over.
We win 6-2 and life is SO good for about 15 minutes while the Zamboni runs. Half the team comes up and says stuff like, "Who ARE you? You were terrific!" They didn't believe me when I tried to tell them I play A league. LOL Okay, what gave it away? The pucks bouncing out of my glove? The awkward pad rotation on the butterfly? Whatever the case, it was love all around.
So, I drink water, cool down a little, jam the Gu down my gullet just to try and get some electrolytes and carbs in me. Tastes worse than I remember. Time for game 2. I start in the same net I started in last game cuz that worked pretty well right?
And for the first period and a half, things were groovy. The game was close and I'd let a couple in but nothing awful.
But then there was a scramble in front of my net and I let in a third. And in the exertion of the scramble, my heart starts racing. It does this sometimes when I play after having caffeine in my system, especially when I'm tired. So, if you remember back to the start of my last post about "Hey, I'm full of caffeine and I'm staying up way late. Fuck yeah! Vacation rules!"... well, here I am halfway thru the second period and I'm regretting everything I've done in the last 24 hours because not one bit of it was conducive to playing hockey.
So, with this racing heart comes sheer exhaustion. My legs feel tired, my breath is short and my whole body just feels like a wet noodle and my brainz have The Dumb in the worst way. I officially feel absolutely awful.
And by the time I get back to my home net for the third period, we are down 7-4 and I'm just feeling worse and worse with every minute. A sensible person would say, "Hey go sit down. The other team can shoot at a cone or something." But that's not how it works. This is hockey and if you're not in need of a stretcher, you stay out there and play.
Turns out I should have gone with the stretcher option because I proceeded to let the score run up to 13-8 by the end. I think every shot in third period went in. It was a nightmare. If I wasn't playing too deep, I was off my angle. Every shot was right on the net or bounced in. Like everything was going their way and absolutely nothing was going mine. It was mortifying.
And did I mention this was the playoffs? Yeah.
So, I feel really badly for my team, but I'm really not beating myself up over it, apart from the unavoidable trauma of such a horrific game. I wasn't even expecting to play, and certainly not for so long. I just wasn't prepared and couldn't do anything about it apart from not play, which ... well... that didn't seem like an option.
But it took until nearly 2 a.m for my heart to finally settle down. Fucking caffeine sensitivity (and before you say go see a doc, I have discussed with my doc and it's no cause for alarm. Just avoid caffeine.) And the physically awful feeling (versus the mental awful feeling of being a complete sieve) bothered me a lot more. I KNOW I can stop pucks because I played so well in the first game. And really, the shots weren't much different between the two teams.
Anyway, what a mess. I tried going to sleep but the heart was going and when I closed my eyes, all I saw was pucks flying at me. Fortunately in my minds eye, I was stopping them, but still. There was no way I was sleeping.
But I tweeted, I played Bejeweled Blitz on FB, I had a beer, I have now blogged. Hopefully this means I can sleep now. Really busy day tomorrow getting ready to go.
Sunday, July 18, 2010
Sooo, I drank a bunch of Coke when I got home because I don't play for 4 days, so why not? I'm on vacation, bitches. I can keep ridiculous hours if I wanna.
But that means I'm bored, so I'm sitting around remembering stuff I could have mentioned about my (really great) game tonight or have had on my mind. It's kind of rambling since I don't have anything better to do, and it's, as usual, all me-me-me. I promise my next post will be about the Wild's baby goalies I watched in their scrimmage today (and hopefully again tomorrow). I tweeted a bunch of stuff, but can't wait to expound on that after I get another look at them. I'm pretty excited about them.
Gatorade: Too much of a good thing?
I only drank water during the game tonight. For as long as I can remember, I've been mixing Gatorade in my water bottle (about 3/4-1/2 strength). But tonight I felt really good with just water. So I'm wondering if I'm over-Gatorading myself by drinking only that and not water.
I'd already planned to keep bottles of both on my net at camp so I can choose, but I'm thinking going forward when I'm back home, I should stick with water. I did have a granola bar about 1.5 hours before game time since I knew I wasn't going to have Gatorade.
Anyway, just thinking out loud really. I learned a LOT about my hydration needs when I used to do all that distance walking, so I thought I had this down, but I actually felt better clear to the end tonight. Was I feeling better because I was playing well? Or was I playing well because I was feeling better? Hmmmmmm....
Another thing that was different was, as I mentioned, the other goalie essentially being a non-goalie fill-in. I think the typical phenomenon is for goalies, when they realize their opponent is probably weaker, to maybe let up a bit. But for me, I look at it like, "Holy crap, I have a chance here!" and actually play better.
Intimidation is my biggest mental game killer. I get intimidated by players who beat me regularly and by goalies who I can plainly see are much better than me. And I think being intimidated by the other goalie might even be worse than by the players. *I* control the outcome of my interaction with a player. But the goalie? All I can do is hope my team solves them.
I know it's silly to be intimidated by someone I can do absolutely nothing about, and yet, there it is. Why can't I *always* believe I have a chance, even if the other goalie's some kinda puck eater?
I guess part of it is that I'm not stupid. Repetition is what drills something into your mind, and as a new goalie, I've spent most of my time losing. So it's tough to believably encourage that little seed of confidence when the self-doubt is repeatedly validated with empirical evidence. All I can figure to do about that is keep working to improve and let Success feed that seed.
And I'm not one for whom pithy rah-rah bullshit really has much impact. However, I do get the occasional bit of advice that sinks in and rings true. My favorite of late that I call upon quite frequently to combat intimidation from players came to me from the pro ranks. I don't remember the whole story, but the bottom line is that you have to stop the puck, not the player. So don't worry about who the player is. Worry about the puck on their stick.
Not to say you don't pay attention to tendencies and whatnot, but it's all about the puck at the end of the day. Stop the puck. "Puck, not player," I say to myself on my drive to the rink.
Sticking it to 'em
Something I'm noticing improving in my game since I started going to goalie clinic is my ability to make stops with my stick. Before, I was keeping my stick in close to my body to the point where, because of my bulky gear, I almost couldn't even see it if I looked down. How the hell can I track a puck to something I can't see?
So, lately I've been keeping it further out in front of me AND I'm doing a much better job keeping it on the ice. Every shot along the ice, my instinct now is to try and get my stick on it first, whether I'm staying up or butterflying, that stick is the moat around my castle.
And not only does this change in behavior just plain make sense, it saves me a few up and downs, and as a goalie who is interested in economy of energy, I really dig that. :)
I think one of the best parts of my game tonight was getting my stick in passing lanes around the net, creating deflections, etc. I'm pretty proud to see a small improvement in some part of my game, especially so unexpectedly. Never know where the little epiphanies will come from.
One of the great things about camp is that I'll see a brazillion shots from all different kinds of drills. There are two kinds of ice times we're tending: individual skills and team skills. So, one of the things I want to do is have a piece of my game I want to work on for each session.
Nothing too complicated but I'm thinking of things like keeping my glove and blocker out in front of me in my field of vision, keeping my stick on the ice, challenging more aggressively, etc. I probably need to go through my goaltending books to see if I can come up with some more ideas.
Have I mentioned here that I'm going to be on the ice 15 hours over 4 days? As one person said, "Isn't that why you're going?" Well sure, but holy hell! That's a lotta time between the pipes. Most I've ever done is maybe 5 hours over 3 days. Eep! I'm playing 5 hours in ONE day next week. Pray for me! Pray for my feet! Pray for my ass muscles!
I finally broke down and bought a 36" foam roller. I've been wanting one for months, but after using one as part of my PT, I'm completely sold on the benefits. It will hopefully be here waiting for me when I get back. Boy am I gonna need it. And whatever that can't get, I've got the lovely Ally to rescue me from my ache-related woes.
(BTW, if you're a Houston reader and want a GREAT deal on a massage, go see her at the Memorial Hermann Wellness Center down off 59 and Beechnut. She's doing her internship and it's only $29 for an hour. A steal and she somehow magically finds every angry trigger point and whips it into submission. Though I'm pretty sure she can do one of those feel-good massages, too, but if I'm not crawling off the table and going, "OW OW OW" at some point, then we're not getting anything accomplished.)
Okay. I think I'm done dumping my brain. Now I need to make lists. I hate making lists because then I need a list to remember my lists, but when it comes to a) moving or b) vacations, I have to break down and do it.
For what it's worth...
Saturday, July 17, 2010
Weird night in goal for me:
Started the evening having to give myself a pep talk to not look past this game to camp next week; that I need to be in the now for my team. But when I got out on the ice, I felt weird. My skates hurt, my balance felt awful, my hands hurt. I dunno, just felt crummy.
It was probably 8 minutes in before I even saw a shot and the first two were from my defensemen from whom the puck just got away from them a little. Couple of panic saves later and then one fluke goal in my net and I was settled in and feeling fine.
I stopped everything else for the next two periods, plus 5 minutes of the 25-minute third period. The other goalie was a guy who usually skates out but very kindly strapped on the pads so that we'd have two humans in goal. He didn't seem to be relishing the position, but he had some really nice stops once he got a little more comfortable. Also, he's one of the better players on the other team, so it was nice to have him NOT shooting on me. :)
Anyway, he was kinda getting lit up at the top of the third period and the other team isn't as strong as my team, so they had us switch ends. I didn't mind because I was kinda bored in my end and wanted to see how I could do against my team.
Did well against them and the red team really stepped up in front of me and did a good job clearing rebounds. I did let in one that I just didn't react to the puck's movement in my depth and I ended up being too deep for the shot. Nice shot though.
The highlight, without question, was a beautiful glove save that I'll be replaying in my mind for at least 48 hours. It was just one of those brainless, body-takes-over perfect reactions. Shot from the block side circle that I tracked right into my glove. I was bugging my defensemen when we were setting up for the face-off: "How sexy was THAT!?!" Haha. They're new guys so they probably aren't familiar yet with how shitty my glove hand is, but they humored me.
Have to say, I like the new folks at novice a lot. They seem to be learning and having a good time in the spirit of things, so that's nice.
Anyway, that's it. Next time I gear up, I'll be doing 3 hours of drills at camp on Wednesday. But before that? The SHOPPING. Auuuughhhhh. That's gonna rock so hard. I almost feel like I should warn them I'm coming. Just have a salesman ready. I'll be the one with wide eyes who's giggling and clapping a lot. I'm really excited for camp. Nice to go up there with my confidence high.
Of course, I'll be blogging, but I'll also get to meet lots of my Minnesotan Wild fans I've gotten to know via Russo's blog and whatnot, so I'm excited for that, too. Plus, I'm really happy just to be on vacation. And have daily maid service. ;)
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Amazingly, my legs aren't brutally tired, which gives me loads of hope for surviving next week without assistance from a wheelchair. But after lots of playing the last three days, my MIND is tired and I'm ready for a break.
It never ceases to amaze me how much mental focus goaltending takes. There's the whole "zone out/don't think" element of it, but you still have to be incredibly focused.
Clinic was good again, though I was pretty tired the last 15 minutes. And I still love the screen drill more than just about anything ever. I dunno what it is about that one. Oh, yes, I do. Not much movement but I have to be really alert.
Anyway, then I played the drop-in. Wasn't all that tired but my skates were loose and that was bugging me a bunch. How can they be loose yet still hurt like such a mofo? I don't get it. They were comfortable (well, somewhat) for the longest time and now they're killing me like they're new skates or something! Really annoying, especially when I'm staring down the barrel at 15 hours of hockey in 4 days.
I kinda stunk in the second half, especially the last 10 minutes or so. The teams were way out of balance and they were just coming and coming and I was over the whole thing and wanted to leave. Terrible attitude but in the moment, I just wasn't there. Normally I stay out for as long as they want to take shots on me, but tonight? Nope. 10:20, I said see ya later.
Of course, the other goalie did clinic, too, and he was really good. I mean, REALLY good. Good butterfly technique but still battles for the puck. He uses lots of paddle down though. I see that used so much and with so much effectiveness at this level, but then I hear it's the devil from goalie coaches. Annoys me to get continuously beat by a technique that I'm told I shouldn't use. Maybe because he's a really big goalie, he can get away with it?
One stop I was particularly proud of though, was a wrap-around attempt that just reading the situation, my goalie sense tingled and I knew to just shove over and seal the post. The shooter couldn't fucking believe I got over there. Haha. Believe it!
Anyway, I'm wasted. And I have PT tomorrow. At least it's not until 11. Only one more game until I wing to Minny! This week is hard core washing of all my gear. It's going to be DISGUSTING after Minny, so I want to start from as clean a place as possible.
I luuuuurve this song. Stick tap to @awoodmacdonald for the recommendation.
Monday, July 12, 2010
Lots of hockey this weekend and today. Practices at Willowbrook and SLICE Saturday and Sunday and then goalie clinic and drop-in tonight.
Couple of things to talk about:
First is that I've been playing around with my nutrition over the weekend, upping my carbs quite a bit to see if it helps with keep my legs energized, and it really does! Glycogen, bitches!
Not to say that I'm not sore, but my legs could have easily kept going after the hour and a half practice/scrimmage last night. Still felt lots of spring in them. So that makes me feel good about camp coming up next week. I've got a fighting chance at keeping myself fueled and at least surviving the first day. :)
Have I mentioned the first day is 3 hours straight of ice time? Sweet buttery Jesus.
Second is that I really sucked Saturday night. Timing was off, skates felt bad, no kick at all.
Sunday night, I think I tipped every single warm-up shot into my own net. Everything hit me, and everything went in. It was the very definition of sieve. Luckily things got better once we settled in to the drills. One of the coaches took some shots on me during a no-shooting drill and that helped settle me down.
Then one of the drills was a 2 on 0 drill and I find that that kind of drill in particular gets me in the groove really well. It kicks in all the tough elements of goaltending: reading shooters, lateral movement, patience, timing. I've been doing all of those badly, so it was good to get clicking a little bit. Nice confidence boost.
The only thing I don't like about that drill is that it encourages me to play too deep. Without any defense, I feel so helpless on my back door, so I get deep so that the other skater can't get behind me for an easy shovel-in.
Another drill, one of the better players asks me, "Has anybody scored on you? I haven't gotten anything past you!" They had, of course, but not much and it was nice to at least be giving off the impression that they hadn't at all! :)
Third, is, of course, the injury report. :) Dumb injury of the night was making a save while in my stance, but somehow it fell into my pad and I didn't want it to fall out and get knocked in, so I dropped into the fly.
Well, if you've butterflied ON a puck in your pads, you know the joy of smashing that frozen rubber into your shin. Got me a nice puck-sized bruise started. Even felt it when I slept on my stomach last night.
Hips and quads were a bit sore when I woke up this morning, but nothing I can't stretch out, I think. Knee is a bit swollen, too. Got my brace on to give it some support today.
My skates, OTOH, didn't fare so well. I crushed the edges on one of them badly. It was so bad, I actually got a metal splinter in my finger wiping them down after. They are just wrecked. So I have to find someone who can sharpen them today. Unfortunately, unlike in Minnesota where they have drive-thru sharpening, it's kind of an ordeal to get same-day sharpening here, especially if you only trust a couple of people in town to do it.
But I have to get it done. There's no chance I can skate tonight on what I've got. Memorial City says they can do it. They better not let me down. Apparently they do punching, too, which I need to get done. My original punching to give my forefoot more room has sort of shrunk back to normal and my feet are hurting again. Probably not good when staring down the barrel at super long ice times. Even if they can't do that today, it's good to know I don't have to go way out to Willowbrook to do it.
Anyway, looking forward to clinic and my game tonight. First time I've played a game in like 3 weeks? Hopefully my grasp of timing will stay with me. And hopefully Scott will forgive me if I half-ass it a little more than usual at clinic in order to save some juice for the game.
One thing I can say definitively: The ice is just terrible right now everywhere. Normally SLICE has the best ice in town, but even there, it's lumpy and rough and slow to dry up. It's like skating on gravel. I'm so looking forward to skating at Parade next week! I hear the ice there is great.
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
The problem with Twitter is that all those random thoughts that I used to save up and expound on in the blog just get tossed there and forgotten about (unless I'm really on more than a 280 character rant about something).
So, I'm saving this one specifically for the blog:
I am ruined for other goalies. I am spoiled rotten and all the fresh goalie meat, no matter how cute or charming or German or rosy cheeked the new kid between the pipes is, he may never be good enough.
I'd been thinking that with Brusty elsewhere, I could finally approach the Aeros goaltending with objectivity (relatively), but with the "signing" of En-Er-um, that new German kid who I keep trying to call Enroth or Ersberg, I realize, the problem isn't them. It's me.
What do I do now? Just become some kind of goalie spinster? Or do I like a skater? Eww, nooooo.
Of course, it doesn't matter now as the team has made it clear he won't be coming to Houston. It's Wild or Germany. Which is fine, as it gives them some flexibility to deal Harding or not deal Harding. Unlike with Dubie last season, who signed expecting Harding to get traded and be the back-up in Minnesota, but Harding is apparently one bad Yugioh card and just can't be traded. So Dubie was stuck and we were stuck with Dubie.
Which segues me right into the thought that's making me more twitchy than my apparent inability to love another goalie...
If you're Anton Khudobin, you have to be looking at this situation and simultaneously banging the speed dial for your agent asking him to stir up the European market for interest in your services.
Basically, the Wild have said,
- We've signed this German guy. If Harding gets traded, we'll make the German guy break his German contract and bring him over to back up Backstrom. You, Anton, will babysit Hackett in Houston.
- IF, however, we don't trade Harding, German guy will bide his time in Germany, and then when Harding leaves as a UFA next summer, German guy will come over and be Backstrom's backup. You, Anton, will continue to babysit Hackett in Houston and maybe even have to compete with Hackett AND Kuemper! Yaaaay! Thanks for being so patient. We love your great attitude and your dimples!
The only reason I could see him staying is because he doesn't want to burn bridges or look petulant or greedy if he decides to pursue a better paying opportunity (MUCH better, rest assured) in Europe.
Or, if he wants to gamble that injuries will sideline Backs or Hards enough to give him significant NHL playing time. That's an expensive gamble.
I don't claim to have any inside knowledge here, but I do have plenty of experience looking down a career path that has all kinds of "we're just not that into you" signs. And that's certainly how I'd interpret this one.
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
One thing I've noticed about kids that freaks me out about them, but also endears me to them, is that they hug people kind of randomly. I've had little kids I barely know (and if they only knew how much I don't like little kids, they'd run the other way) just come up and wrap their skinny little arms around me. It's weird, but it does make my ovaries stand at attention.
Of course, at the first whine or sticky fingers or interrupted adult conversation, the old gal's ovaries go back to their "I Love My IUD" ways.
But tonight after goalie clinic, I felt like one of those little kids, and I just wanted to skate over to Scotty TFCG and give him one of those hugs. Just random and unabashed. Because goalie clinic tonight was that great and fun and helpful. And he works really hard to make it that way and since I'm the goalie-age equivalent of an 8 year old, having an 8 year old reaction seems appropriate.
Being 35, however, I'll just come home and write about it and he'll read it and consider himself hugged. Got that, Scotty?
It was great though, partly because I didn't have PT today to wear my ass out. Seriously, I leave that PT clinic sweating like I've just played a game. That woman works my can off, and I'm seeing the results creep in a little more all the time. It's magical. But to do that AND goalie clinic on Mondays is tough. Last week I was really fatigued, but tonight my legs were strong and steady and did what I wanted them to do, which is a really nice feeling.
I even forgot my knee brace at home and other than my first "get-up" off the ice, there was very little pain. And even when I got home, after sitting in the car for 30 minutes, it wasn't too stiff.
But also, I think the balance of work was good. The warm-up got me moving but didn't wear me out so I had plenty in the tank to devote to working on the drills. And the drills were all beneficial, even fun. The tip-in drill wasn't fun because I sucked at it, but since there was actual carpentry involved, I'm betting we see that one lots more. I hope so because, like I said, I sucked at it. My goalie brain just can't seem to believe the puck is going to change trajectory even though it's quite clear that it's going to. It's a weird little mindfuck.
Then we did a drill with a big tarp hanging off a pipe structure at the hash marks screening us and shooters were shooting either under it or coming around it. I found the most value in the shots coming under it because slow reaction times eat my lunch, and this forced me to not react until I had it in sight, at which point I had to react instantly. Also forced me to keep my stick on the ice.
To tell you how good clinic was, the first time I looked up at the clock, it was 8:55 (we finish at 9)! Normally there's 15 or 20 mins left about the time I start watching the clock and feeling like grim death.
And if a great clinic wasn't good enough, one of the girls I play against on Mondays told me they're having trouble getting goalies for the women's league at another rink and that they'd appreciate the help if I'm interested. Um, heck yeah! Never played with all chicks before, so that should be fun. I've heard it can be catty, but honestly, for free ice time, I'm happy to play the aloof goalie card.
But that was it for my week of hockey until Saturday, and then it's full bore for 2 weeks until the Monday after camp (which I'm super excited about, if only for the "not sitting at my work laptop for a week" factor). I'm way overdue for a week off of work, even if I do have to go alone and have pucks shot at me to get it. Hopefully we'll get our playing schedule this week so I can make plans with my Mini Soda peeps.
I'm feeling philosophical now that I have the timely stuff off my chest. This goaltending journey... sometimes I wonder where it's taking me, because I really do feel like it's taking me somewhere. I've had too many forces pushing me along, helping me out, encouraging me, giving me what I need when I need it.
I really believe the universe takes us where we need to go if we'll just shut up and let it. But where is this going? Maybe I'm being silly and it's just a nice way to burn some calories and feel young and mischievous still, but for a completely nonathletic person who only played one day of softball in 6th grade because she hated the balls flying at her... for someone who hates to sweat, has a low pain tolerance, and thinks too much... well, it just seems incredibly weird that being a hockey goalie is what my life is about now.
Nothing changes from this musing... I'll continue to just take the opportunities laid in front of me and listen to the stirrings of my heart and mind, but sometimes I wonder what's really going on here. Will I look back in a few years and understand? I certainly look back on my marathon training like that. The lessons learned and perseverance gained in that year certainly gave me the courage to try hockey.
But this is much MUCH harder than I ever anticipated. And much more rewarding.
What am I doing if I don't follow this up with some potty mouth gangsta rap? I just love the title. I'm so white.
Friday, July 2, 2010
Ellis NOT to Montreal but to Tampa
- I liked Dan Ellis to Montreal in terms of what his presence would do for Carey Price, but I like Dan Ellis to Tampa Bay even more as a comfortable fit for Ellis himself. I think in MTL, he'd be saddled to some extent with "babysitting" Price and I can understand not wanting to do that.
- In Tampa, he's reunited with Mike Smith, who is another former Dallas prospect. I very much like that tandem. Reminds me a lot of Schaef and Brusty back in the day. Smitty's a little edgier, Ellis is easy going. Both are probably fairly similar in terms of getting wins, so they'll push each other to earn ice time without being threatened by each other in a destructive way. Great job by Mr. Y down there.
- On the other hand, Alex Auld to Montreal is a move I'm skeptical about, but the more I think about it, maybe it's not so bad. Auld has become a fairly serviceable goalie in the last couple of years and is probably good enough to push Price a little. We saw with Halak that Price didn't necessarily play better being pushed a LOT.
- My initial reaction was, "Awful!" but now... I dunno. You have to hope the team has an understanding of what makes Price tick at this point and is doing what they can to get him ticking like the elite goalie they want him to be. Bottom line though, I wish he'd go somewhere else. He needs out of the fishbowl.
- Glen Sather is just an awful GM.
- Boogie is great as a "figure" that fans like. He's freakishly huge and scary, he could pummel a grizzly bear to death, but that's just stupid money for that guy. It's not HIS fault he got that big a contract, but I hope his skin is thick because Rangers fans aren't going to give a shit whose fault it is.
- Really happy for Big John Scott. He was my original "soft spot" on the Aeros. For a guy who some more vocal Aeros fans were ready to hand-deliver to the ECHL a couple of season ago, and for a guy who, even as a college player, didn't really expect to turn pro, this contract strikes me as a pretty special one.
- I was having Risebrough flash backs yesterday. Nothing but crickets from the Wild camp all day yesterday, and then in the early evening, Matt Cullen signs and then Erik Nystrom signs. I honestly don't know much about Cullen, but he sounds like a solid player.
- Nystrom, on the other hand, I'm pretty jacked about. I understand he's just a gritty, 4th line type of guy, but those guys are my favorites. My impression is that he's got some personality. I have no idea where I get that idea:
Hedberg to New Jersey
- So, I really like the Moose and I hope they're serious about managing Marty's playing time so he doesn't go back to being one of "those" back-ups who never plays.
- Also, Twitter good guy and perennial dues-payer Mike McKenna was angling to challenge for the #2 spot in Jersey. His tweet on hearing the news, "Bummer." Aughhhh, I hate a sad goalie. Poor guy. I'm not sure I have it in me to wish for an injury to Brodeur or Moose, so Mike's on his own here, but we'll see.
- Sounds like Matt Climie had his pick of 2-way contracts and chose the place with the most "break-in-able" NHL situation. I'm glad he's sticking it out in North America, even though I'm sure he could have gone to the KHL this year and made some coin.
- Plus, I think he's the first player to play for 3 Texas-based AHL teams in a 3 year span in the history of ever. So he's got that going for him. But I really hope he finds a way to stick in Phoenix because San Antonio doesn't strike me as a place where goalies get to showcase their stuff very well.
Several people have asked me about Brusty and where he's going. I don't know anything, honestly. There are still several quality free agent AHL goalies and Brusty's been under the radar for a while, so it might take some time.
I think his agent should hire me to sell him to teams. There aren't many things in life that I'm 100% aces at, but talking up Brusty is one of them.
I'll sit 'em down in my office by the big Brusty poster and the Brusty bobble head and explain what a rock star and beast he is on the ice, what a great guy he is in the room, how much fans love him, how he's good with the media, how many savegasms he'll induce, etc etc. They'll be ready to have his babies, much less make him their goalie, by the time I done with 'em. Bring it!
Thursday, July 1, 2010
Hanging out with the Hockey Primetime boys for Free Agent Frenzy day. I've got a lot of Real Job work to do so I'll be popping in and out.
I suspect I'll generally only be good for:
- Assessing the Hottness Quotient for teams as players move to and fro
- Goalie stuff
- Wild stuff