I’m not supposed to be exercising for another week, but I couldn’t stay away any longer. I’ve already missed three straight hockey classes, I’m worried about falling too far behind, and the inactivity finally got to me. Once again I got to the rink early, and I was the second guy into the room. As it turns out, the first guy also happened to be a lawyer so we ended up talking law, but as a few other guys trickled in we shifted the conversation to the current situation facing Culver City Ice Rink’s attempt to extend their present lease so we can all keep playing there after January. Once again I took longer than anyone else to get my equipment on, and I was the last guy out of the room. The other adjustment this week was taping my left elbow pad to my prosthetic arm to keep it from sliding down and off - the lack of a glove on that hand makes this a necessity.
I asked around, and most of what I missed over the last three weeks were drills - one guy said everyone had been screwing up a lot so the coaches were just keeping things simple. Ok, maybe this won’t be so bad. And for the first 45 minutes it wasn’t. We did a few skating drills and then a series of skating and passing drills - first there were 2-on-0s, then they conscripted 6 skaters (I wasn’t one) to play defense while repeating the drill as 2-on-1s. On the good side, my passes were almost entirely accurate - I was able to put them where they were supposed to be. I’m also doing a reasonably good job of keeping my head up and not looking down at the puck. All those months of dry-land stickhandling practice are paying off, and my terminal device enables extremely accurate passing and puck control when not in game conditions. On the bad side, I’m not doing a good job of receiving passes that are coming to me. I was consistently overskating them - at this point I’m not where people think I’ll be, so that’s something else to improve.
The last 10 minutes were reserved for a no-goalie scrimmage after dividing the class into dark jerseys versus white and grey jerseys. I wore my purple Kings Laperriere jersey circa 2002, so I ended up on the dark side. There were exactly 10 of us, and I drew the second shift on left wing. And all of a sudden I’m back out there and playing in a scrimmage after 29 years. Sweet. At least until I got into a scrum in the neutral zone and the stick popped out of my terminal device. I couldn’t get it back in, but I was able to reach forward with my right arm and poked the puck over the blue line. I skated towards it, crossed the blue line onside and poked it again past a defender, but I still couldn’t reattach the stick so I skated past the defender on the outside and used the inside of my left forearm to pass the puck into the slot to my center, who scored and let out a nice little yell to celebrate. Fist bump! On the next shift I switched to defense and reattachment problems resulted in a clean steal from me and an instant goal against, and later I failed to block a very blockable shot that resulted in a goal. And I was completely gassed halfway through my final shift - I’m paying big-time for the recent lack of exercise. But even if the mistakes outweighed the good and I was completely out of breath? It was great to be back out there. Oh, and by scoring a point on my first shift I can now run around and say I have something in common with Mario Lemieux. With sort of a straight face.