I scored a goal and I liked it
A couple of weeks ago, I shared the fact that I am playing Oldtimers this season. At the time of my previous column, our team had played two games, and won both of them. Although, the second game was by the skin of our teeth.
Since that game, we have continued our hot start. We are now 5-0 on the season, after defeating a very good M&M Powersports team last Sunday, 9-1.
Sure, you can look at that score and think, wait, it was a blowout, but the reality was we had nearly our entire team on the bench, and they only had one at the start of the game and later had three skaters on the bench. So, we were able to wear them down over the course of the game.
In the two games before last Sunday, we won 6-0 against Re/Max Realty and 8-0 against Sayen’s Auto.
It is fair to say that we have started the season strong, but we have worked hard to make sure that we are not giving up a lot of chances defensively.
Personally, I believe that my best game came in our game against Sayen’s Auto. I am not really chipping in offensively, given that I am playing defense, so I have to measure my success in other ways, namely, how many times do I make a play to keep the puck out of my own net.
I had two good shots on goal against Sayen’s. Both were at a height and pace that could be tipped by my teammates, which was what I was intending to do. However, neither resulted in a goal.
More importantly, we did not give up a goal against, so my defensive partner, Micah Stipech, and I were doing what we set out to do, keep pucks away from our goaltender, Dustin Jaehnig.
Against M&M, however, I made a mistake that led to a goal against. M&M features a speedy forward in Logan Rastello, who got me to reach out for a puck too early, and he was able to pull it away from me, protect it with his body, and then get between Dustin and I. Logan drove around Dustin and deposited the puck in the back of the net, evening our game at 1-1.
When I returned to the bench, all I could do was hang my head in frustration. I bit too early on a move I felt I should have seen coming. To make matters worse, Logan got me again a few shifts later. This time, our goaltender was ready for him, and made the stop.
Logan tried to get me a third time in the second half, but this time, I was in a better position, so when he got past me, I was able to reach in with my stick and disrupt him before he could shoot.
That play gave me a boost of confidence. It was something I sorely needed, because, along with the two different times that Logan beat me cleanly, I also had a chance to carry the puck through center ice, and just as I realized I was in the clear, I tapped the puck in an awkward way, losing control of it, and turning it over at M&M’s blue line. So much for that attempt to be a puck-carrying defenseman.
We were leading 6-1 in the second half when another opportunity to make something happen arose for me.
I had tried to move the puck out of our end when it caromed off the boards and into the left circle. I skated up and grabbed it. As I did, I heard the voice of my teammate, Mike Beutler, informing me that I had room to skate the puck if I wanted to.
I looked up and took off. With M&M in the midst of a line change, I had two critical needs (for me to carry the puck) arise at the same time: time and space. I skated as hard as I could up the ice, taking into account where the defender, who was looking to keep me from scoring, was positioned. I heard Mike tell me he was behind me, so I knew that I had options if I felt that I could not beat the defender to the net.
As I saw M&M completing their line change, I figured I had better get a shot off. I fired a wrist shot on net that the goaltender, Tyler Duffek, stopped. The puck dropped between his feet. I figured as soon as I shot it that I should continue to crash the net, because there might be a rebound I could make a play on. Sure enough, as I arrived in the crease, Duffek dropped the puck and I was able to poke between his legs and into the net, scoring my first career Oldtimers goal.
I was so excited to have completed the play, that as I turned back towards my teammates, I barely had time to register Micah was skating up to me. He put his hand out to congratulate me, and all I could think about was that I was skating at him too fast. I unconsciously moved to avoid running into him, and missed getting the high five he was trying to give me.
After our shift ended, we were able to joke about it on the bench. Once Mike got to the bench, we made further jokes amongst ourselves that he was able to draft off of me, which allowed him to keep up with me as I skated up the ice without working as hard.
Through five games this season, I can definitely say that I am glad that I accepted the chance to play Oldtimers this season. Our team, CSI, is made up of a good group of guys who can laugh and joke as we work hard, which allows us to be successful. I know that at some point this season, maybe even this coming Sunday, that could change with a poor showing from our team, but for now, we are all enjoying ourselves.