Week 11 – Goodbyes and the Varx Select

When I first started back at hockey 3 years ago I was unsure about how much my skill level would have diminished over the years I was away. I joined the Varx in the hope of joining in to improve and build my fitness. I was very unsure of myself. But I remember the turning point at the time was when a long time respected Varx player said one simple sentence “…you come on my line with me”. It meant he thought that I was good enough to play as his defence man above all others.


This player and his wife have both played for the Varx for a long time. Since that day they have continued to coach and guide me. When I joined the Falcons he was there to encourage me, he is the one who constantly puts himself against me in scrimmage so that I have someone to battle against and work up to.
Now his wife has a job opportunity over in Texas and will soon be moving over there. They will be sadly missed. 
I have only known them for about 3 years though. They have been part of the hockey community for over 12. So this week as a final tribute they have gathered together a team to play against the new Varx players. All the money will go to charity.
The Varx select team is a team of players that they have played with over the years who have become part of their friends and hockey family over the years. 
For me it means I get to play hockey where practically every person on the ice is a friend. It was a wonderful experience.
Also because the select team was made up of a lot of the Falcons players it was a good pace to play up to and prove how much I have learned.
Varx played the Falcons in a friendly the year previously and honestly I was out matched and left standing easier than I’d like to admit. This time was a different story.
The first 20 minutes we actually matched their pace and I’m very sure they were unexpectedly on the back foot. We even scored the first goal.
Really these guys were the select team and not the Falcons but the pride we felt after that first period was immense. 
Sadly as the game went on, stamina and pace finally overtook us and despite no one actually keeping score, there was a fair gap between the points. 
But we regard the two teams as brothers so we were all proud of each other, and we were sad when it ended. I had personally had a brilliant game not letting people through and really getting stuck in. I have shown my worth in that match. 
It was a brilliant match that we enjoyed. In the end it was to see too people off who we all had come to respect over the years and whom we will be sad to see go. 

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Week 2 – Back on the Ice 

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.