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Playing Ice Hockey for the First Time

If I told you that you had to wait 20 years to achieve your goal, would you stick with it and follow through? For me the goal that took 20 years was to play ice hockey. I have mentioned it a few times on this blog that I have been playing roller hockey since I was a kid and for one reason or another did not have the opportunity to play ice. There were times when I felt that it would never happen. Whether it was because of financial reasons or injuries there were times when the door was open to quit, but I never gave into it. I was able to re-frame the given situation and envision myself achieving this goal with crystal clear clarity. Well at the end of this year I was able to finally make my dream come true.

Over the years when I upgraded my equipment I have purchased ice hockey caliber gear. I figured that eventually I would get the chance to play ice and the more ice hockey equipment I have, the quicker I can start playing. The last piece of ice hockey equipment I needed were skates and during the Black Friday and Cyber Monday events I was able to get a great deal on a pair of Graf Supra 750 Goaler Pro skates from Goalie Monkey.

The anticipation really started to build after I placed the order for the skates. Now playing ice hockey was no longer a dream, but a reality. As soon as the skates arrived I went down to my local rink, the Ice Ranch and got my skates sharpened. I also picked up a hockey garter and hockey socks. A few days later I came down to the public skating session to try out the skates. I forgot how effortless it is to skate on ice versus roller.

The public skate was pretty empty so I got the opportunity to test out maneuvering around the crease. It was really awesome getting to practice like that, I was so close to the real thing. Two days later the dream that I had as a kid came true. I came down for the drop-in session. Not sure exactly the best way to put on the garter and socks, so I gave myself extra time to get dressed. Thankfully the length that I have my toe-ties at for my roller skates is a great length for my ice skates as well. Once I was dressed I headed out to the ice.

Surreal. I do not even know if that truly describes what it was like to step onto an ice hockey rink in my goalie gear. I felt like those kids who won the Toys R Us shopping sprees or getting that present you really wanted during the holidays. As most goalies do, I started off with my regular routine of skating around, followed by some stretching, and then warming up in net. It was a very strange experience when I started stretching.

I got down into a butterfly save position and the first thing I noticed was that my legs were pulling apart and sliding out. I am not used to that in roller. You plant your knees and they stay where you put them. So the first thing I had to get used to was engaging more of my inner thigh muscles to keep my knees stationary on the ice. There is almost zero friction on the ice and I was able to move my leg pads around without any effort.

One of the other goalies who went to the drop-in came over and gave me some tips on how to push from side to side and do backside recoveries. This was a huge help because I was not too sure about the proper way of executing them. Once again I had to learn new muscles to engage. After a few minutes of testing out the new things I can do on ice I headed into the net for some warming up.

The years of playing goalie really helped me. Instead of being completely overwhelmed I was only slightly focusing on where/how to plant my skates properly. For the most part there was not too much of difference between ice and roller until I needed to move laterally or stop a breakaway. If I went into a butterfly slide, I just kept on sliding and when I committed to a save on a breakaway the only thing that stopped my backwards sliding momentum was the net. There were also a few times where I attempted to push across the crease and ended up putting myself into a small spin. Hahaha.

Being able to get from one side of the net to the other is a real treasure. On occasion I have timed it just right and T-Pushed hard enough in roller to barely make it over. However, on ice I can make it over very quickly and usually with enough time. One thing I have to get used to is that I cannot knee shuffle on ice. I did it a few times during the drop-in and was wondering why I was not moving over at all. I have to remember to butterfly slide or T-Push over.

There were a few other differences between ice and roller that I noticed. The major one is how much faster the game and the puck is. Even the beginner skaters were flying up and down the ice and the puck moves so quickly along the ice. Without the friction present, when I made a save I had to make sure I brought the puck to a complete stop. Typically in roller once it hits you, the pucks stops. It lands in your knee stack or by your skates and it stops. Not on ice. It hits you and continues its forward momentum right into the net. I am not sure if this is true everywhere, but at least for me rebounds were not as big. My assumption is the larger surface area of the puck is causing it to lose more force against my pads.

As Eric Thomas says, “I am very grateful, but I am unsatisfied.” I cannot express how amazing it is that I can now say that I play ice hockey. Now that this life long goal has been reached, my eyes are already set on the next set of goals. I am looking forward to and determined to be as best as I can be on ice. To learn the proper skating techniques, master backside recoveries, etc… I plan on going to drop-in’s until I can find a team to play on. This is so awesome.

“If you want to reach a goal, you must “see the reaching” in your own mind before you actually arrive at your goal.” ~ Zig Ziglar

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