Since I started learning to play hockey just over two years ago, I have written about all of my "firsts" -- from my first lesson, to my first game, to my first goal, to my first championship. Now I must tell you about a first I am not very proud of. Not too long ago, I got my first "own-goal;" that is, I accidentally knocked the puck into my own net.
Obviously, no player wants to talk about that. But I feel that I should discuss both the high points and the low points of my hockey odyssey. And this, my friends, was definitely a low point.
It about a minute or so into the first period. I had just stepped onto the ice for my first shift of the game and took my usual spot at right defense. The opposing team carried the puck into our zone. A few feet from my own net, I was covering the puck carrier. He didn't have a good shot, so I knew he was going to pass. I was trying to rush his pass, but I was also trying to break up the pass he was going to make.
I succeeded at neither. My opponent whipped a pass right by me and onto the stick of his teammate, who fired on our net. Our goaltender made the save as I spun around and saw the puck lying right outside of the crease -- with an opponent practically on top of the rebound.
I got my stick on the puck and attempted to shoot it away from our net. But instead, the puck rolled off of my stick and ended up in the back of our own net.
The referee sounded his whistle. I hoped that maybe he lost sight of the puck before it went in, but I saw him point to the net, signaling that it was a good goal.
Well, good as in it counted. But it was a very bad goal. The game was not even two minutes old, and I had just given a tough opposing team a lead.
I cursed, then skated over to our goalie and apologized. He looked a little surprised, but told me not to worry about it.
Embarrassed, I hunched forward, looking down at my skates as I drifted back to center ice for a face-off. I did not want to make eye contact with anyone -- teammate or opponent.
Obviously, I felt terrible. I hoped beyond hope that my team would score a few goals, erase the defecit that I put us in, and win the game.
But that didn't happen. The only goal scored the entire game was the own-goal that I put into my own net. Had that fluke not occurred, we would have played to a 0-0 tie. That might sound bad, but our opponent was a tough team, and we lost the previous two games, so a tie would have been golden.
My teammates did not give me a hard time. No one made fun of me or complained that we could have won if I did not make that mistake. Everyone was actually pretty psyched that, even though we lost, we held our own in a tough game.
And strangely enough, no one on the opposing team gloated. That is especially surprising, since about half of the guys on that team do not like me. I guess some opponents can set aside their personal feelings and still be good sports.
For the next day or so, I was ashamed. I felt like I cost us the game, even though my mistake came early and we had practically the whole game ahead of us. Eventually, I got over it. We all make mistakes. That's how we learn. And it is not like my mistake cost us the Stanley Cup.
So next time I pick up a loose rebound in front of my crease, I'll handle the puck for a second or two and get control of it before I make a play. If an opponent steals it from me or knocks it off my stick, so be it. At least if I have control of the puck, I won't be doing the other guy any favors.
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Filed under: Advice