Manager: Mighty, Matt, and Eric
|June 2||11:30||Fish Netters||Win 6-3|
|June 9||12:00||Nighthawks||Win 5-2|
|June 23||11:30||Nordiques||Win 5-0|
|June 30||12:00||Fish Netters||Win 5-1|
|July 14||11:30||Nighthawks||Win 5-4|
|July 21||12:00||Nordiques||Win 5-4|
May 19 - Practice
Bruce ran into Russel Davis and he invited us to join a group of people renting the ice at IceOPlex on Saturday nights. After a few weeks people started saying they'd like to put a team together. After almost letting interest lapse, we finally got it together and signed up at Ice Bound.
Jeff, the head of hockey at Ice Bound, is our coach. Plus, this league has assistant coaches. They both seem pretty intense, and I'm not sure they have a lot of patience. But it should work out.
He had us doing some fundamental drills, mostly. Puck handling, basic wrist and snap shots, passing, 2-on-1.
I was getting really frustrated. Several times I knew what I wanted to do and couldn't execute. On one 2-on-1, I took the puck into the zone and I could see that Matt was open for the pass. In trying to get my stick on the other side of the puck I ended up knocking it away from myself.
May 26 - Practice
More of the same. Plus a short scrimmage at the end. We kicked their asses.
June 2 - Fish Netters - Win 6-3
|Mark Nichols||1st Off. Line, Center||1|
|Ben||1st Off. Line, Left Wing|
|Andy Laska||1st Off. Line, Right Wing|
|Matt Hester||2nd Off Line, Center|
|Jacob Wild||2nd Off Line, Left Wing|
|Richard Davis||2nd Off Line, Right Wing|
|Brad||3rd Off. Line, Center||1|
|Shaun Howard||3rd Off. Line, Left Wing|
|Drake Christensen||3rd Off. Line, Right Wing||2|
|Russell Davis||1st Def. Line, Left|
|Brian Rickards||1st Def. Line, Right|
|Josh||2nd Def. Line, Left|
|Brian||2nd Def. Line, Right||2|
|Eric Smith||3rd Def. Line, Right||1|
|Bruce Allsop||3rd Def. Line, Left||Wanted 2|
A pretty good start to the season. By the third period we were easily outskating the other team. But we did see some areas where it's clear we need improvement.
One of the most important is that our defense is suffering puck fixation. They're busy watching the game instead of keeping the brain working on where they should position themselves.
Specifically, the defense wasn't keeping an eye out for cherry-pickers. There were many times when one or even two of the other team were behind our defense. On the tape, you can see that the defense doesn't have a clue that they're back there.
That didn't cost us this game. There weren't any clear break-aways because most of our defense was so much faster than any of the other team was. But if we play a team with faster skaters or better at using the odd-man rush opportunities then we're going to get burned bad.
Similarly, we had defenseman in our zone camping in front of the net and not actually picking up an opposing player. Basically, all they were doing was screening Josh.
Finally, the defense often left their position and nobody covered for them. This happened on both offense and defense. There were several instances where both defenders were on the same side of the ice in the offensive zone chasing after the puck with one or two opponents on the other side with nobody within 50 feet of them.
The same thing happened in the defensive zone. There were a few instances of both defenders on the same side of the goal and an opponent all alone on the other side of the crease. The out-of-place defender was so busy watching others playing that he wasn't looking around to see where everyone else was.
Similarly, a few of our defensemen like to carry the puck into the zone, but then they stay up by the net even though none of the front line has held back to cover their point. Again, we ended up with a huge chunk of ice and a couple of players completely uncovered.
And finally, our defense occasionally threw the puck away when they had time to skate it. That was what led to one goal against when Brian tried to bank the puck behind the goal and either misjudged the angle or just misaimed the pass. In that instance he had plenty of space between him and the opposing player. He could have skated the puck behind the goal and decided from there what to do. Even if he had made the bank there wasn't another of our players in position to recieve the pass.
A lot of this will gell quickly as we play together as a team. We just need a little practice at watching what our teammates do and adjusting accordingly. We were able to outplay this team easily, but we need to be more disciplined on our positioning against a better team.
Our offensive lines didn't have so many glaring mistakes. The mistakes were more individual and less systemic.
For example, Jacob spent way too much time hanging back at the blue line or along the wall. He wasn't setting himself up to be part of the attack. Also, Andy commented that his line wasn't looking to the right for the pass. He said he was open a lot and he'd watch the pass go to the other player in the middle of a crowd.
One potential problem is that our third offensive line is pretty slow. It wasn't a problem with this team, but against some other teams we may have a rough time against a faster first line. We may need to rearrange our lines so that we have at least one person who can help break up rushes.
Also, we on the third line commented that we may not be talking to each other enough. I was trying to tell Brad and Shaun where I wanted the puck, like high slot or to take the shot. All I ever heard them say was to take the shot. We need to call the puck if we think we have it so the other person knows they should break off and find some open ice. Same thing between offense and defense.
The good news is, one other thing I noticed on the tape is that most of our passes had pretty good pace on them. The one exception was Eric. He poked a couple of very weak passes. I'm sure that if we just remind him a few times he'll improve quickly.
More good news on my line. Brad and I tended to go in deep to battle on the boards or in the crease and Shaun would cover the high slot, which is where the third person should be. One change she might make is to move around a little more. On the tape it looked like she would stop and camp there. She needs to move around in order to find open ice and open up a good passing lane from the puck carrier to her.
One thing we didn't learn this game was how we're doing on defense. We dominated the other team so thoroughly that we didn't spend much time in the defensive zone. On the third line, we commented on how we felt pretty disorganized when we were in our own zone. Part of the problem was the opposing defense rarely came into our zone. They were usually hanging out around the red line. That left Shaun and I with little to do but watch the game.
Another of the goals against was due to multiple defensive mistakes. First, Eric pinched up in the offensive zone. So Bruce had to come across to cut off the lone man breakaway. Eric was just a few feet behind the two of them. Both Bruce and Eric followed the guy into the corner behind the goal line and battled for the puck. Then Brad joined them. So we had three people behind the goal line. Shaun was covering her point and I was covering mine. The puck came squirting out to the center who was up around the face-off dot and he centered to the other wing waiting in the crease.
There are several things we can learn from that one goal.
First, the defense needs to learn not to pinch up. Again, our fast skaters kept us from getting burned badly. But we're going to give up a lot of break-aways if we don't break this habit.
Second, the defenders need to notice when the puck goes behind the goal line. No more than one person should ever be behind the goal. If the second defenseman in notices that the puck is back there he needs to instead take another player or cut off the passing lanes.
Third, our center should never go behind the goal line. Plus, he should never be the third person into a scrum. Brad should have held back and either covered their center or covered the guy in the crease.
Possibly Shaun or I could have come off our points. I might have noticed their center sooner and taken him. He was close enough to the lane I was trying to cover anyway that my moving up might have been reasonable. The other wing was so far from Shaun she really couldn't reasonably cover him. Basically, with three people on one behind the net there's just too much ice for the other two to cover.
At one point Bruce committed two near-slashes withing about a minute of each other. Just after the second one the other team went offside. Bruce was expecting to get called, so when he saw the ref's hand pointing in his general direction he went straight to the box. It turns out there was no penalty. We ended up scoring a goal while he was in the box. Eventually we noticed that the scorekeeper never put a time up and Bruce came out of the box.
I got two assists for the night. The first was a break-away from our zone. I picked off a pass headed to my point and split the defense. As I crossed the blue line I noticed that Brad was on my left. I took the shot and the rebound went straight to Brad who was heading for the net. My shot was to the right side of the net which left the left side wide open for Brad.
Later in the game, I thought we were on a penalty kill. It turns out we were four-on-four at that time. Anyway, we agreed that Brad would be the fore-checker and I would hang back on defense. A pass came out toward the person I was covering that I easily picked off still onside. I threw a shot at the net that ended up getting spit out to the right boards. I got to it with plenty of space to spare and noticed that Eric was wide open at the point. So I waited for the other team to close on me a bit in order to eat a little time off the clock. When they got about 15 feet away from me I sent it back to Eric who took a shot. It took a funny hop and bounced over the goalie's stick.
I also had one defensive play in the neutral zone that I was happy with. They were coming forward and I was about even with the puck carrier. I saw that our defense was well-placed in front of us, so I went after the puck carrier and managed to poke-check it away. I was a bit out of position, over on the left side of center, but I was keeping track of most everyone else on the ice. Pretty much everyone was behind the play except my defensive line, so I knew I could safely challenge the puck carrier.
June 9 - Nighthawks - Win 5-2
|Mark Nichols||1st Off. Line, Center||2||2|
|Ben||1st Off. Line, Left Wing|
|Chas||1st Off. Line, Right Wing||3|
|Matt Hester||2nd Off Line, Center|
|Shaun Howard||2nd Off. Line, Left Wing|
|Richard Davis||2nd Off Line, Right Wing|
|Brad||3rd Off. Line, Center|
|Drake Christensen||3rd Off Line, Left Wing|
|James Bonney||3rd Off. Line, Right Wing|
|Russell Davis||1st Def. Line, Left|
|Brian Rickards||1st Def. Line, Right|
|Josh||2nd Def. Line, Left|
|Brian||2nd Def. Line, Right|
|Eric Smith||3rd Def. Line, Right|
|Bruce Allsop||3rd Def. Line, Left||4|
First, it's clear that watching the first game tape helped a LOT. It's a big difference from, "Remember that break-away? Well, ten seconds before that you should have already started moving to the center." With the tape we could find the break-away and then back it up to see how the play developed.
Scott did a great job taping this game. I think he only lost the puck about twice. About half the team saw the first tape and a slightly different group came over after the game to see the second. One thing that stood out was that, for the most part, we were pointing out new areas for improvement in the second tape. IOW, a lot of the really major mistakes had mostly been fixed.
One thing the defensemen spotted was that the off point is staying on his boards when he should be pulling back a little and moving to the center.Also, it appears to me that the off defender in our own zone was still too fixated on the puck and wasn't watching for people in the crease. I never saw them looking behind themselves to see if there was a free man nearby. I think our defense is trying too hard to block the shots themselves. We need one guy on the puck handler and trust Josh to handle the shot and the rest of the defense takes the other players.
Another thing our defense is doing is holding onto the puck too long. There were three or four times the defense had the puck, watched a guy skate up to them, and then tried to jink the puck past, only to have it stolen. If you have the puck on our side of the red line, make a pass. If you don't see a pass, start skating immediately. At the very least, make yourself a moving target.
Part of this problem is probably that our offense isn't coming back to support. If one of our defenders is getting challenged we need to make a point of skating back and to the side to present a target for a pass.
Most of the team is pretty good at hustling all the way to the puck, though there were a few times you could hear someone muttering, "Come on, get to the puck." Everyone needs to keep skating hard until they get to the puck. Give themselves time to do something with the puck once they get there.
This game was much more physical than the previous game. The other team had one guy in particular who seemed intent on checking every chance he got. One time he cross-checked Mo in the back. Another time he put his head down and ran right at Bruce. He got called on that one.
We saw several good things, too.
Matt, Richard and Brian Rickards have really got the face-off down. Matt knocks the puck to Richard, who passes it back to Brian. Rich then immediately heads to the boards. Meanwhile, the wing that started next to Richard is following the puck to Brian. Brian passes the puck to the boards in front of Richard. When Richard finally gets the puck back he has twenty feet of clear ice to decide what he wants to do.
In contrast, when Brad faced-off to Mo, whichever one of them ended up with the puck would try to push it forward. That would put it the middle of the opposing center, wing and defenseman.
One problem we had with my line was Brad was too intent on chasing the puck in the defensive zone. He was often the second or third into a scrum. We need to remind him to spend a lot more time covering the guy in the slot. By the third period I spent most of my time messing with the guy in the slot and rarely covered my point.
At the beginning of the game we started our second line, hoping to put our first line against their third. That worked for a couple of shifts, then we got out of synch and their first line was on our third line. We were struggling. We spent the majority of our time in our own zone.
I only had two shots this game. One early in the game was from near the point. It had some pace, but got picked off well short of the goal. The other I mostly fanned on.
I was on the ice for a penalty kill that they scored on. I picked off a loose puck in the middle and tried to push it out. The puck made it to the blue line, but one of their defenders kept it in. A few seconds later, I was covering someone in the slot and they snuck a shot through the five hole.
Thinking back on it, I was gung ho to get out there. But I'm such a weak skater that I probably should have suggested that we double-shift our first line for the penalty kill.
Elsewhere, there was one defender with whom that I was getting pretty good at predicting his moves at neutral ice. He'd hang onto the puck and I'd head straight for him. He could probably easily out-skate me. As I got about ten feet away he'd try to fling the puck at the boards. I could see his weight shift and two or three times I cut it off and tapped it forward. Either he wasn't getting any lift on it or he didn't think he needed to.
I did a few "I league stops" into that guy during the game. If he got the puck away before I got there I'd just keep going and bump into him, tying him up for a few seconds. Early in the game he cross-checked me down when I did that.
There was one time I was chasing the puck in the offensive zone. It came from behind the net to the corner. When I started for the puck another player was right behind me. I assumed he was still there when I made it to the puck and ended up losing my balance. On the tape it's obvious that there's nobody within twenty feet of me. If anyone was telling me I was clear, I didn't hear it.
There was one other time in the first period when the puck squirted past our right defenseman out to near our blue line. I was already in the middle of the ice near the other blue. I managed to get a good jump and kept pushing for the puck and actually managed to beat a guy there. On the tape I had what is for me a lot of speed.
But most of the time I look really clumsy out there. I need to get in a lot more skating time. I'm just not sure I'm going to get a chance until we ship.
June 16 - Practice
Frustrating for me. My skating sucked, and I got in a pissing match with Josh.
June 23 - Nordiques - Win 5-0
Where were our coaches? Apparently, Jeff left a message with Jennifer telling her he wouldn't make it. But the message said that Jamie would be there. In the end, it turned out we didn't need them. We've jelled as a team and have a pretty good idea of when to change lines.
We were worried going into this game. The other goalie is in his first season and yet they had an 8-0 shutout the previous game. We expected quite a challenge. Instead, we completely dominated them.
I didn't notice during the game, but part of the reason we rolled over them is they only had two lines worth of players. We scored most of our goals late, when they were really getting tired.
We rearranged our lines to put our best defense on the ice with our third line. That seemed to help us a lot in keeping the puck in their zone.
In addition, Brad concentrated on playing his position in the slot on defense, which helped us control our zone much better. I really noticed that from my position on the ice. In previous games I repeatedly felt obligated to cover the open man in the slot. In this game I was able to sit on my point man the majority of the time.
On offense, us third liners had some real scoring chances. I had one feed each to Brad and Shaun in the crease. Neither of my passes made it to them, but they were in the right place, wide open.
There was also one break-away chance that we nearly connected on. I was carrying the puck out of our zone and noticed Shaun all alone on the far boards with nobody between us. The puck made it to the boards, but was just a little out of Shaun's reach.
I think I only had one shot on goal. I chased a puck to the boards and turned away from the end line to get some angle. I don't remember if I looked at the point, but I think he was covered. I thought about putting the puck on my forehand, but that would have taken me too long, so I just flung it from my backhand. I think I caught the defense off guard, but the goalie knocked it aside.
One of the second line goals was really sweet. Matt carried the puck into the zone and was passing the net on the right. He dumped it back to Rich, who was trailing in the slot. He had a nearly empty net to shoot into.
We did have a couple of slow changes. Apparently, Russell ended up on the ice by himself twice. I'll have to go back and look at the tape, again, but it seemed to me we got enough on the ice just in time to blunt their rush.
Russell and Brian had one episode of miscommunication. Brian was over on Russell's side chasing down a puck that was creeping into our zone. They kind of bumped into each other and both backed off. Then both went for it again and bumped into each other and backed off again. By this time, the puck had slid almost to the crease and an opponent charged in and took a shot.
Despite that bobble, once again, the tape shows that there's obvious improvement by pretty much the entire team since the previous game. We're learning our positions better, backing each other up, more, communicating better on the ice, and learning where to expect each other in various situations.
In the end, it was Josh's first shutout. He was justifiably pleased about that. Even the third line kept them out of the zone most of the game, but he still had to make a few tough saves. One in particular was a diving leap in response to a crossing pass in front of the goal.
In action off the ice, apparently, Ice Bound wants to split the team. We've grown so quickly as a team that, while we do have a couple of I league players, we're really way too good to be playing as a team in I league. This proposed split has caused a great deal of turmoil.
At first, I wanted to lobby Jeff to let us stay together one more season. My thinking was, we aren't quite good enough for C league, yet. There's just too big a gap between I league and C league. After one more season we could try to find a C league to take the team to.
But, apparently, some people got excited by the notion of suddenly having a bunch of new slots to invite other friends. When I spoke to Jennifer about keeping the team together she said several people indicated to her that they would prefer to split.
On top of all this, even if we split there's a feeling among the refs and other coaches that some of the best players should be forced to move up. But then there's the question of whether there's a spot for them in any of Ice Bound's C league teams.
I found out there is a C league at Ice-O-Plex starting about a month after our last game this season. When I proposed moving there I got a bunch of responses back about how we need to find out what Jeff/Ice Bound intends to do. As I see it, what Jeff says is mostly irrelevant.
For some reason, everyone wants to avoid this decision. They seem to be hoping that whatever Jeff says will decide it for us. In past hockey and softball teams I've been on, when the team puts off a decision like this it doesn't get made and we end up missing the sign-up deadline for the next season.
Another good reason to make the decision now is to give new people invited to the team time to decide. Otherwise, it ends up being, "Hey, do you want to be on our team? You have to decide by tomorrow, and if you want in you have to go to Ice Bound to fill out the form and turn it in by tomorrow. Oh, yeah, and we need a check."
That's just my opinion. I could be wrong.
June 30 - Fish Netters - Win 5-1
Not much drama to this game. We had a pretty good idea we were going to win.
We on the third line had a pretty good game, we thought. In particular, we managed decent break outs a few times. I remember Eric throwing me the puck up near the blue line. I'd corral it between me and the boards. As I turned up ice I saw Brad breaking through the middle and Shaun along the far boards, right where they should be.
Now, for a break out I'm supposed to be closer to the face-off circle. But I'm too slow. When the defender gets it behind the blue line, I'm still by my point. I scoot back a little, but he's moving toward me, too. I just can't get back very far by the time he's ready to pass.
July 7 - Practice
Worked on basic skating and keeping the offense from attacking in a straight line.
July 14 - Nighthawks - Win 5-4
Wow, this was a tough game. We were playing rough and they were playing dirty. They had at least four C league calibre players. I suppose we have at least four, also.
Lots of people couldn't play. Brad, Shaun and Josh were all out of town or something. Russell messed up his back, but he ended up suiting up. Our subs were Scott Warren and Bill Raley. We went with two defensive lines.
Ice Bound was doing something where they thought they'd only have one ice for us, so they had one game early enough to play both games on the same ice. Apparently, the other team didn't hear about the time change. The other ice wasn't actually in use, so Jeff had us play over there and he reffed the game.
I tried to pace myself during the hour-long warmup, but I was still getting tired by the middle of the second period.
I think Jeff did a poor job reffing the game. Our team commented that we don't mind some bumping. But where we were playing rough, the other team was playing dirty. Several times, they obstructed, tripped or tackled one of our players with absolutely no pretense at going for the puck.
In one particular incident, Mark had a break-away. The guy chasing him literally grabbed Marks arms from behind. They ended up behind the goal line and Mark looked at Jeff, who waved it off. Then a few seconds later they were battling for the puck in the corner. You can see that the other guy started swinging at Mark and Mark defended himself. Jeff threw them both in the box.
There were several incidents like that. It really was getting out of control.
Eric and Billy played on my line. It didn't feel like we had enough time to gell. Billy doesn't have a lot of experience, so he was receptive to advice. He knew where to be on defense, so I went over the offensive triangle, and the offfense to defense transition. Since Eric was going to be center, he planned on just playing ameoba hockey. I tried to tell him how that didn't work when Brad played that way, but I'm not sure I made any impression.
And then, partway through the second period Billy pulled something in his back. So he asked Russell to take his place. That shifted us around even more. Russell went center, Eric went left and I went right.
Despite our lack of cohesion on the third line, we spent a lot of time in their zone. We were disorganized in our zone and had trouble getting the puck out. But when we did, our defense helped us keep it in their end.
At one point, Billy messed up his back. Russell had been hoping not to play because he had a ruptured disk in his back. So those two switched off every couple of shifts. That made life even more interesting for me, because Russ took center, Eric took left and I moved to right. After coming off the ice I realized I wasn't staying on my side.
Overall, I felt I had a below average game. I wasn't aggressive enough to the puck. I spent most of my time reacting to the opponents. I felt like I was wandering around waiting for the puck to come to me, rather than making a plan and doing it.
July 21 - Nordiques - Win 5-4
The last game of the season, and we had a very poor game.
We should have rolled over these guys. But we weren't playing together as a team anywhere near as well as usual. Lots of amoeba hockey. On the tape, there are several times when we saw all five people were on one side of the ice in our zone with two opponents completely uncovered on the other side. They never connected, but it was just blind luck that they didn't.
We had a lot of trouble with people trying to carry the puck out of the zone and getting it stripped away three feet inside the blue line. Basically, this is an experience mistake. We're having a lot of trouble deciding what we want to do with the puck in our zone. Everyone hangs onto it too long. They think they're being crafty, but mostly they're letting their options get cut down.
Another big mistake was clearing up the middle. There are times when going up the middle or across is safe. But it has to be a conscious decision. Most of the clears up the middle in this game were blind dumps. At least one of those resulted in a goal.
Another problem I saw was in the face offs. We won a lot of them. The wing would push it back to the defenseman who would then throw it up the center into a crowd, or our center would miss it entirely. Somehow, they're forgetting to bank it off the boards to the wing. I sent it back two or three times, and each time I was open on the right as I broke away from their wing. It would have given us a lot of momentum into their zone. I saw Rich try the same thing and they were ignoring him, too.
Bruce wanted to play offense, so he and Andy switched. It took a couple of shifts for Andy and Eric to start getting in synch.
Bruce, OTOH, got to feel Andy's pain on the first line. He was open in the slot several times and rarely got a pass. There were several times that Mark chased the puck and got in someone else' way when they would have had a real opportunity to do something with it.
Bruce got the only penalty of the game. It looked like it might have been an inadvertent collision in the corner, but he gave an extra shove with his stick in the guy's back that apparently caught the ref's attention.
Once again, the third line put some legitimate pressure on the other team in the offensive zone, but couldn't put one in.
The other team was also leaving us open in the slot. Matt took one pass from the boards and there was nobody within 30 feet of him. He took the shot, the goalie blocked it, and Matt got his own rebound and slipped it around the goalie for the score.
Later, I was somewhat open about 10 feet out. The puck came from the side, but I barely got anything on it.
Late in the game we were struggling to get the puck out of the zone one shift. I was trying to get it out and fell near the middle of the ice a few feet from the blue line. I managed to poke the puck between a guy's legs to get it out. For some reason our bench went wild when I did that. Dunno why.
Early in the game I carried the puck into their zone. I managed to flick the puck down the boards and tried to skate through the other guy's stick, but he managed to tie me up enough for the other defender to get there first.
|Nov-Dec '00||3-2?||Decepticons||The season of the Big Fight|
|May-July '00||6-0||Absolute Zero||It was great watching the team improve|
|Jan-Feb '00||4-2||Sea Bass||I gained a lot of confidence|
|Nov-Dec '99||2-3-1||Sea Bass||My first season|
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