This month, I joined the “Original 6” hockey league at Franklin Park Ice Arena. It is a “novice-level” league intended for adults who are relatively new to hockey and/or want to play in low-stakes, “have fun” games. I had no intentions of joining until my friend Anthony — who has less hockey experience than me — talked me into it. Hockey lessons are like wading in the shallow end of a swimming pool. A hockey league — novice or otherwise — is like jumping into the deep end. And I took the plunge.
My first game was off to a less-than-stellar start. Each team was supposed to be issued jerseys, but they were not yet in. So my team, dubbed “Toronto,” was a mish-mosh of white, orange, gray and yellow jerseys (care to guess who wore the yellow jersey on our squad?). The other team (“Montreal”) wore either black, blue or red jerseys. From above, we probably looked like a bowl of Lucky Charms as we swirled around on the milky-white ice, while I tried to remember if I wanted to pass or steal the puck from the guy in the red jersey.
My personal goal for the game was to not embarrass myself and not have any goals scored against my team while I was out on the ice. I succeeded in that end; well, for the first period anyway. The score was tied 1-1, and I did not make any bad plays to hurt our team. One-third of the game down, and I felt pretty good.
But things started to fall apart during the second period. The other team dominated us, and we never seemed to get into the attacking zone. This happened with all of our lines, and not just with our more inexperienced guys like myself or Anthony. I was on the ice when two goals were scored against us. Both occurring during the same shift! In the third period, with a mere 14 seconds left, the other team scored against us again, making me minus-3 for the night.
We lost the game 5-1. “Toronto” seems to be a fitting moniker for our squad.
My only good stat — if you can really credit it — was on a power play, when my center got a shot on net. I swooped in and got a whack at the rebound, but the goalie covered it up. I don’t know if that “counts” as a shot (the league only tracks the final score), but I’ll count it in my book. At least I did something besides getting schooled.
I also drew praise from a more experienced teammate, who complimented the job I did of covering the other team’s left defenseman (I played right wing), while in our own zone. I may have been out there when three goals were scored against us, but at least the guy I was covering didn’t get a shot off.
I may have been a step or two behind the other players. I felt outmatched, but not overwhelmed. I was one of the weaker players on my team, but that’s okay. Just like anything else I will improve with practice and experience. In the end, I had a good time — and really, that’s what recreational sports are all about.
Sal’s Stats: Game 1
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Filed under: Hockey Games