BLOG - HOCKEY & HEAVY METAL

February 5, 2014 • 08:10 PM

THE LAST SKATE?

After several weeks of public wrangling and hopes that it would not happen, the venerable Culver City Ice Rink closed its doors this past Sunday night after 52 years in business. It may reopen in a few months’ time, but then again it may not. Suffice it to say that I hope it will. But if this really was the last day, I wanted to be there, and even more importantly, I wanted to be there for the rest of the guys and girls for the last class, which is a full hour of scrimmaging. And if I had to leave a most excellent Super Bowl party in Glendale during the first quarter and tear across five freeways in 25 minutes to make it to the rink on time? Well, that’s how it had to be.

Our hockey class was always scheduled to follow the final “free skate” on each Sunday afternoon, but since today was posibly the last-ever free skate, the parking lot and the rink were jammed. I took a couple photos and made my way to the dressing room, and as I was tying my skates heard the pop music they play fade out for the last time at 5:00 as the zamboni rumbled to life. If Killer Carlson had been sitting next to me, he surely would have said, “You got an expression of sadness on your face,” and I definitely wasn’t the only one. All of the conversation in the dressing room was about the rink and what everyone will be doing if goes away. You’d never suspect that a Super Bowl was in progress - no one even mentioned it.

Sure enough, once everyone was out on the ice for a couple minutes, Patrick blew the whistle, cut the warm-up short, cut his pre-practice speech to about 15 seconds and got the scrimmage started - black jerseys (with Coach Brian) versus white jerseys (with Coach Patrick). We actually had goalies this time, too. Unfortunately, as will sometimes happen, we of the black jerseys were pretty overmatched. Each of the two white jersey lines had a couple of the guys in the class who were the best skaters, and thus the best players, and only Coach Brian’s presence helped the score from being more lopsided than it was. We easily gave up half a dozen breakaways and had a hard time getting down low into the offensive zone and setting up plays. Everyone was told to take shifts lasting 45-60 seconds, but there were definitely folks staying out there for around twice as long, with most of those players just sort of hovering away from the play and waiting for the puck to come to them. As David Byrne once said: Same as it ever was.

But on the positive side, I had a few moments today where I was able to stickhandle, pass and receive passes without having to think about it at all, and those were all firsts since switching over to a being right-handed shot a few months ago. I started the game on defense but then took a few shifts at forward towards the end of the game, and actually made a couple of good forechecking plays and was able to advance the puck into the zone and send perfect passes into the slot. However, no one in a black jersey was there to receive them because no one had gone to the net. As I continuously say, I need a lot of work, and more than occasionally it’s frustrating because my body isn’t doing exactly what my mind wants it to, but that’s what makes ice hockey difficult and therefore fun. And I’m having a great time.

After the last whistle, people broke out cameras and snapped a few photos, though one guy actually taped part of the game by attaching a small video camera to his helmet. That could be some funny footage there. And then it was all over and we all trudged back to the dressing room for the last time, right past the guys in the advanced-level hockey class who were about to take the ice for the rink’s final hour. And once again the dressing room conversations were all about staying in touch and figuring out what everyone is going to do next so we can play more hockey. And once again, not a single mention of the Super Bowl. 

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THE LAST SKATE?
February 5, 2014 • 08:10 PM

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