Week 7 – The Week I joined the Team

Despite this being the beer league a lot of people on the team take there fitness seriously, or, like me, they are fighting age and trying to return to a time when they were at the peak of their physical condition.

It is in this endeavour that the drop a stone in a month challenge started. Two players challenged each other to lose a stone. Whoever lost gained a tenner. Then the banter escalated and the rest of the team were some asked who there money was on. But it didn’t end there the forfeit also fell on the backers and extended further, by the end the losing team had to skate the ice naked and slide across the ice similar to the forfeit in Mystrey Alaska. 
Because I picked a side before I realised the forfeit included the group I was stuck. Suddenly we were all doing the challenge. 
This worked out in my favour I suddenly had a support network and access to good information about weight loss. However if I didn’t lose a stone in a month then I had a naked skate to perform and I would lose 10 pounds.
Our coach is a qualified doctor and has access to scales and fat calipers. At training we were required to get there early for a weigh in. We all got weighed and had our BMI measured. Currently I weigh 186 Kg with a fat percentage of 30%. Honestly it was a lot better than I expected, I certainly wasn’t the biggest. My fate had been sealed, I was commited. 
At Varx training I had took advantage of the slower pace and had been practising my basics. In particular I had been working on the legs and glide, stopping on my wrong side, and my shot. My shot had came on loads since I got my new stick and now I was getting practised with it. However this week I did not hit the net once, the power on the shot was awesome, if I was shooting against a wall at home I would be very impressed, but on the ice the puck sailed wide and or hit glass each time.
In scrimmage however I had some excellent moments, it all came together, getting the puck in the offensive zone, pulling off some dangles, skating hard into positions. All in all after Varx I felt ready, so I on Falcons I wore my circa 2005 Falcons jersey and I brought my signing fee.
On Friday we have our first preseason game against Widnes Wildcats, we went through our strategy and practiced our plays. Everyone was getting fired up and knowing that I was finally signing made it feel so much more like part of the team. 
Once the session was over, and I signed the paperwork and I was officially a team member. I was so pleased that all my hard work had paid off, I had achieved my goal. 
I realised that now was the beginning, to learn, to play at this level. Despite being on the team i knew I had a lot of bench warming to do, to watch and match my pace to the new level.   
I was in the same league as my brother, the fixtures showed that I had 3 months until our teams played each other.
I was a Falcon now.
I would play with passion and pride.
Starting with the match on Friday. 

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Week 5 – Allstars

This week was the week the week of the NHL Allstar game and skills competition. I love this event as is shows a real banter between the top players in the world. 

Hockey is a game and as such the most important thing is to have fun. These competitions show the world that the worlds elite feel this way too. 
But what a show. The skills competition was epic as always. My favourite is the skills relay but if I’m honest they are all brilliant. It was a shame McDavid didn’t beat Larkins Speed record but then again, good for Larkin. Highlights for me was Mike Smith scoring from red line, Weber retaining his hardest shot, and Crosby showing the rookies who’s boss.
I enjoyed the game too. I enjoy the build up and the fact that it’s the centennial so they have all of the 100 greatest players peppered in there as well makes it all the more watchable. 
It was nice to see Gretzky behind the bench and getting involved. It was also nice to see how we have really took to the 3 on 3 format. It makes for a much more exciting experience. 
Also how many goals were scored. Wow both semi finals had 10 goal wins with only 1 goal in it for the final. Again despite being a big McDavid fan it was nice to see the Ovi/Crosby team winning it in the end. Well done Metropolitan. It was a brilliant experience to watch and I look forward to watching it again next year.
So back on the Varxs team and my constant playing up on the Falcons is really starting to show. I’m faster and have more of a shot than ever before. My chest infection is dying down and I’m able to go for longer again. Still only one Goalie though but hey it’s not all about the net and scoring. There have also been a few Falcons players down which brings the pace of training and scrimmage up, but a few of our guys are really coming on too which helps.
At Falcons we have started training in teams. So as we change we get given a colour, Black, White or Red. We then play each other in those lines. Swapping full lines at scrimmage on a 2 on 1 off basis. It means I get good recovery time. The people on Falcons take there fitness seriously, they want you to get the maximum amount out of it, regular water breaks, controlled recovery time and full power when you are on the ice. 
The pace has jumped right up. If I can get up to this pace then I will certainly be an elite player. Currently I am playing the best hockey I have ever played, but I know I’m still a long way off where I need to be. 
Our resident professional took the defenders this week. We did a number of backwards skating drills. When I play scrimmage I can keep up, there are so many factors that influence the game, but when I’m doing a skating drill the difference in skill level is obvious. I was a long way behind. I have a lot to work on. But I listened and there was a lot of people talking to me and coaching me. 
When I get off the ice I write down a few of the things I learnt so I can remember them better.
Don’t panic on the puck

I don’t scare easy on the ice and I have been playing a long time. Yet when I get the puck I have been known to throw it away quickly, or get annoyed when it gets stuck against the boards, fearing the time pressure I have in this faster moving level. 

I have to anticipate where the puck is going, a lot of time not knowing my next move is playing on my mind. Look up and look for my pass. This should give me the reality that I have more time on the puck than I think and enable me to give a more accurate pass for the breakout. 
Triangles

The whole game is about triangles. As a player as long as I move as part of a triangle I can’t be far wrong. Most plays, especially defensive ones form triangles. I will talk about this in a further post.
Always face the puck

Usual I end up in front of the net, pushing and pulling with a player in the crease. If however instead of facing this player I stand facing the puck I can read if the player is a problem or if I need to be elsewhere. I could even block the puck before it even gets to him. Always facing the puck allows me to read the play more. I can always keep my stick on him similar to a blind man using his cane. That way I always know where he is.
Tactics and tips will be given a lot more as I continue to strive to improve. But I’m having so much fun learning, and like the NHL Allstars have shown this week, that is the most important thing.

Week 1 – Ice withdrawal

“Coach Bombay: Haven’t you guys been training in the off-season? 

Lester Averman: You know, I knew we forgot something.” – Mighty Ducks 2
So this is week one and I’m already a little nervous because I havent been on the Ice for 2 weeks.

I feel like I have gotten very fat and slow and until I get back on the ice I don’t know just how fat and slow I have got.


To counteract this since the 27th I have started my off ice training, this consists of 3 key areas. Firstly I run. At least 15k a week, usually 5k 3 times. I run to increase my stamina, but there is a difference to long distance training and hockey specific running. There is always a 10k that I am training for and I run these through the summer for charity. But once a week I will run a 5k specific for hockey. This is usually to sprint the lampposts providing a chance to build up short bursts of speed, representative of chasing down a player on a break away, or even having a break away myself. Or I could run at high speed for 2 minutes, the jogging pace for 3 minutes, to represent shifts on the ice. 

I might also try some thing different I might have seen in research.

Next type is HIIT training in the form of a beach body workout. I have completed a few of them to date and this year I wanted to try a new one. Insanity Max 30. Currently I’m in my second week and hope that this will burn off the fat I have built up over the holidays. Once this is complete I plan to move back to my Insanity/P90x hybrid for the rest of the year.

Finally I have found a few stickhandling drills online that I plan on practising regularly. This one is from current NHL all star McDavid.

https://youtu.be/GQK1RBm8Vx4
The link runs from one of my favourite YouTube channels The Hockey Movement, if you look through his back episodes there is a wealth of hockey tips and tricks for all skill levels. 
There has also been a lot of Hockey to watch over the holidays. The centinial Classic between Toronto and Detroit and the Winter Classic between Chicago and St Louis. I havent seen the Ceninial yet but I can say I enjoyed the Winter Classic enormously, I will avoid spoilers but will say this is an entertaining game if you haven’t seen it.

Also I really like the Road to… series that NHL have been making of recent years, a behind the scenes look at the teams in the games before the Winter Classic and Stanley Cup. It makes for a fascinating insight into the professional game we aspire to. 

That’s how I have been keeping busy waiting, but while I am pacing up and down waiting for ice time, you can see me having fun on the ice by checking out my YouTube Channel Bergs Place on YouTube at
https://youtu.be/pqQVtgjfRR0