Finally I get to get back on the ice. As I get changed someone enlightens me that it has been 4 weeks since our last training session.
For Christmas I got a new stick. A Nexus 9000. There are two differences between this stick and the last. The first is the length, my previous stick I cut down really short. The basis for this was to emphasise puck handling over shooting. I have never had a shot, certainly not a slapshot, and because I keep low for checking the length suited me.
Because it was short the second difference was that it had no flex. Like none at all. Once cut it must have been over 150 flex.
During the break I was worrying about playing with a longer, whippier stick.
How would it effect my puck control? Would it really give me a better shot? Or would it just get in the way?
My other concern was how much damage my Christmas belly had done to my fitness.
4 weeks of questions followed me as I stepped onto the the ice for the Altrincham Aardvarx Saturday session. As I skated up and down in the opening few minutes I realised my skates were sharp enough, I hadn’t left any of my agility behind.
There were no net minders on the Varx. All had prior commitments it being the first Saturday past the Holidays. That didn’t stop me from firing out a load of shots off. Wow. It was worth the initial clumsiness when the power in my shot had grown so much. At one point I thought someone behind me had taken the shot… and they kept hitting the top left bag… from the blue line.
Due to the lack of net minders the drills consisted mainly of skating and puck handling drills. Perfect. Just what I needed to feel out the stick and my stride.
One thing I noticed was I had more of a reach I could dodge one way and have my stick out the other side, cutting them off completely. I got the puck 90% of the time.
I didn’t feel any awkwardness with the stick until I returned to the Blackburn Falcons 2 nights later. With the higher intensity I really got a feel for how differently I could pull moves on it. They were different moves which gave me more space. It was easier to guide them to the boards because of my reach. This time there was a net minder to practice my shot on.
The Falcons drills were as always more situational and during a cycling drill I found the true power of the shot, scoring several top shelf bags past the net minder from a one timer, on the move. I had never done that before.
In my last Falcons training before Christmas I had a higher intensity and even started to match the others players pace. I could never have matched them before. Thankfully this session was no different, carrying my confidence through into this new year.
A surprise was that in the scrimmage the two players known for the harder most liberal checks were against me. I’m pleased to say I held my own and took and gave a few checks back. Checking is something I need to build back into my game so this was a nice first step.
The first training sessions of the new year had gone well and wiped any doubts that come from absence out of my mind, now I can move forward with pride and self confidence.