The other night I played rat hockey with the Dire Wolves Hockey Club, a group of beginners who get together and play pickup games. Some guys may have been playing for a year, while others have played far less. A few are even from my “Hockey 101” class at Johnny’s Ice House. There are no superstars in this group, with the goal being that we all get better by playing against others at a similar skill level.
But I accomplished another goal that night; one that involves a puck. I beat a goalie and scored my first ice hockey goal. I won’t exaggerate and say it was highlight reel stuff; then again, it wasn’t a garbage goal either. What made me proud of this accomplishment is that I had to do several things right in order for this goal to happen.
I was playing left wing. I was at my own blue line and received a pass from my defenseman. I did not flub the pass; that was the first thing I did right.
Then a defenseman from the other team was trying to take the puck from me, so I bounced it off the boards to get it out of my zone. That was the second thing I did right.
Next, I started skating as fast as I could. I wanted to retrieve the puck I just chipped off of the boards. I figured that I had a good chance of getting the puck before the defenseman who was covering me, since he had to turn around and skate after it, while I was already moving in that direction. Good thinking on my part.
I got to the puck first, and cut towards the net. No one was on me, and one of my teammates yelled “It’s all you! Take the shot!”
I fired a shot on net.
The goalie stopped it.
But that did not matter.
I was still going hard to the net, anticipating a block and hoping for a rebound. Another right move.
Lo and behold, the goalie gave up a rebound, and I got to it first. I knocked the puck into the net — on my backhand — for my first-ever goal in an ice hockey game.
I immediately threw both arms into the air and yelled “Yeah!,” feeling the weight of the world lift off of my shoulders as I also felt my chest collide with the plexiglass behind the net. Apparently, I can either celebrate scoring a goal or come to a complete stop, but not do both at the same time.
Fortunately, I did not fall down, and a few of the guys on my team that night high-fived me. Even my friend Anthony, who was playing for the other side, shouted “Yeah! Sal!”, drawing surprised looks from his own teammates.
I felt awesome.
Scoring a goal feels great for the obvious reason that it helps your team, and you want to help your team; even in a pickup game where you don’t know everyone’s name.
But it is also gratifying because it made me feel extremely competent. I didn’t just whack the puck in the net — I did a lot of little things right consecutively and made that goal happen.
The thrill of the goal is gone, but the feeling of satisfaction remains. Let’s just hope that sticks around, as it may be a while before my next goal.
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Filed under: Hockey Games