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Monday, 5 March 2018

Knights Summer Season Premiers 2017/18 - Summary

The Knights had a great 17/18 summer season, finally going down 0-5 against the Blades in the third game of their semi final playoff series on March 1.  We had previously finished the regular season on top of the ladder with an impressive record of 13/3/2 (including 2 shootout wins).  We had the lowest number of shots on goal against (319, next was 355), second lowest number of goals against (36, best was 32), third highest +/- (22, best was 41), fourth highest penalty minutes (90, highest was 134) and assists (61, highest was 110), and fifth for shots on goal (412, highest was 525) and goals (58, highest was 90).  We won second most number of games in regular time and lost the least.  There were ten teams in the league, the most ever for summer. 

Our roster had a goalie and sixteen skaters from about half way through the season (had been fifteen skaters previously).  Six of us played every game.  The lowest number of skaters we played with was 12 for one game, apart from that we were never less than fourteen skaters.  Our highest goal scorer (Jay) was third in the league with 20 goals in 16 games.  He also led us by coming in thirteenth for assists (8) and fifth on overall individual points (28).  He was third for overall points per game.  Dathan, with 22 PIMS, was fifth worst/best in the league on that measure.  In the mid-season draft we were the only team from whom no one was picked (albeit only two Knights put up their hand).  Every team in the league had a roster at least as full as ours, though few had such a dependable turnout every week.

We had three rookies at the start of the season (Laura, Hayley and Dan) with another (Brad) joining just before Christmas.  All other players were returnees except for Jay, our star Canadian who had obviously played in the past.  This was my fifth season, four played their second season, three their third, it was Tommy's fifth, and the core remained Fox, Jones and Bacon (I was regarded as a veteran by the coach). 

My personal season was pretty successful, albeit I didn't score or earn any points.  I ended up playing all 18 regular season and 3 playoff games.  I took 8 penalty minutes (an 'illegal hit', 2 trips and a holding opponent's stick penalty), all in the regular season.  I was evens on my +/- for the regular season, -2 in the playoffs. No major injuries, worst were a bruised ankle (not twisted) and sprained finger, besides the usual complement of upper body bruising and soreness from week to week.  The ankle compromised my skating for the next game but that was about it as far as injuries went.

Our defensive corps benefited greatly from the full roster.  Most games we played with a full complement of six players, there were about three games with five and only one with four.  Defensive pairs were stable through the first fifteen or so games during which time Jonesy was my partner.  After a pre-playoff reshuffle I found myself with Ash, with whom I played out the post-season.  We generally had our coach managing the D gate/bench during games (while one or more of his assistants managed the forwards).  As a collective we did quite well defensively, reflected in our team having the lowest number of shots against in the league.

Saturday, 3 March 2018

I've let this blog slide for just over a year, only realised it had been that long when I reviewed it after the 17/18 Summer Season finished.  Wow, time passes!  I'll post up a season summary in near future of the season just past, but for now will complete the previous season results with an old post that never made it to the blog.  Good to be back!

13/2/17 4-3 loss to Flyers. Refereeing was good except for one bad call, gave them a PP game winning goal. Sigh. Fun and tough game, at least half a dozen shot blocks on my part and a fair bit of goal front push and shove. Again, saw off two 5 on 3s, even got into a one man rush on one of them! Lots of battles on the blue lines, we played probably best positional hockey have done this year. I got credited with a goal from the point - was actually an assist as it was tipped in (barely) but I'll take the score either way. Probably my best all around defensive game, even though went -1 for the night. 1-0-1 -1 PIMS 0. End of season for us, will post up season tally soonish. Can't wait for next season.

12/2/17 4-1 loss to Rangers. Made an uncredited assist to foxy from the point with him in the slot. Played in 3 PKs, plus one 5 on 3 and a 4 on 4. They scored 5 on 5 once with me on the ice, triangle worked well around the slot with our puck chasing wingers getting in the way and confusing things. A not so enjoyable game, primarily due consistently bad refereeing and resultant agro between the teams (and some bad sportsmanship on their part). Despite all this I played okay, no-one got around me and I managed to defuse a number of rushes and ensured that no breakaways got going while I was out there. My first game with Dathon as D partner and we combined well. 0-0-0 -1 PIMS 0. Took me half the game to get the body functioning properly. One more game to go for the season.

6/2/17 1-4 v Kings.  Good strong game. 4 D. 2PKs, both turned into 5 on 3s (they scored on one of these). I seemed to be on the ice and scrambling for the puck as often as not, relied on 'the crazy' in these situations to cause havoc for their puck retrievers. My direct opponent in first game against Kings this season had the edge on me, I neutralised him this time round. Despite the scoreline we enjoyed ourselves and played reasonably good. My highest VO2. 0-0-0 +/- even PIMS 0

29/1/17 Tough gig, went down to Blades 6-0. They had a line of superstars, we had two part time centres. Sigh. Pleased with my own game, lots of grind in front of our net, some nice checks into the board (stick not body as target), containing very agile young skaters around back of our zone by keeping the inside track and body position. Saw off two PKs. The goals against while I was on the ice both happened from close in. On the first, their net front attacker was occupying two of us while his centre swept in from the circle to score top shelf (saw it coming, at least), the second was a bit of a fluke accidental backhand of an unseen puck at his feet by a lucky winger. I was grinning through the game, holding the blue and even setting up a rush or two in the third. I guess it's a compliment that their bench was cursing me and their players scouling at me by then :) 0-0-0 -2 PIMS 0.

15/1/17 2-0 loss to the Generals, but quite a game. Toe dragged around opponents for the first time ever, and stood up for my goalie when opposing forward kept hacking after the whistle (all good between me and the opponent but the ref went ape shit at me). They were too quick to cheat from defence, so satisfied myself with the one forecheck (!) and plenty of close in hipchecks below our circles. The festive season running paid off with my HR and recovery speeds, will need to keep it up (another fortnight to our next game). 0-0-0 +/- even PIMS 0.

22/12/16 Storm win 2-0. We had 3D. I played within myself, handled numerous 3 on 1s, used my head a lot and body only when I had to, kept them out of the box. Doubled shifted a couple times, killed off a whole penalty with no shots against. Satisfied. 0-0-0 -1 PIMS 0.

4/12/16 Rangers win 3-2. Still very pleased with my personal game. Only 3D, but was still hard when it had to be. The best bits were consistent poke checks (first time) and a valiant north to south one man rush ending with me sliding into the goals as my feet got away from me attempting to cross cut the goal at full speed (earned plaudits from ref and opponents alike), as well as a couple solid point shots and a neat assist from our blue. 0-1-1 +1 PIMS 0

27/11/16 1-2 loss to Flyers. Robbed by refs (in a sense, we didn't pot the goals) via several ridiculous penalty calls and loss of control over game by the end. Sigh. 0-0-0 +/- even PIMS 2 (holding, though he was holding me and himself got penalised for 'interference').

21/11/16 2-1 over the Blades. My fiftieth game. Had 3 or 4 one man rushes from the D :-) and tied up their star centre at the other end. Fun game. 0-0-0 +/- even PIMS 0 (and not even warned by the ref's this time).

17/11/16 0-5 loss to Predators. Active game, chaotic teamplay cost us. Played 3 PKs, including twice for full 2 mins. In one of those puck hit shaft 8(!) times, boots x3, body x2. Lots of crease clearing battles. Bruised ankle from puck. On for two goals, one off my stick (and through my legs), the other rebounded off my body in front of goal allowing shot and rebound for their goal (sigh). 0-0-0 -2 PIMS 0.

10/11/16 Knights 6 d Sharks 4 in return game. Another uncounted assist (bank pass to rushing centre). Activating as an 'offensive D man' and loving it! Our lines getting more disciplined with changes, leading to more and shorter shifts at lesser extremes on the HR (also, less time scrambling in our zone helps). They came back from 3-0 down to be 5-4 with minutes to go but we held it together and played simple hockey to get over the line. 0-0-0 PIMS 0 +4.

8/11/16 Sharks 7 d Knights 5. We were coming back to 6-5 with 3 mins left when penalties killed us off. I went -2 for the evening, got my first official assist. 0-1-1 PIMS 0. We lost from a 3-1 lead in a tough but fair game, 10 mins of chaos in the 2nd cost us the game. Especially having 8 skaters on the ice with 2 mins left (I won my first ever face off, filling in after infringement in our D zone).

6/11/16 Generals 3 d Knights 0. They got off to a quick start, arm wrestle 2nd period, we were taking upper hand through the 3rd. My most offensive game so far. Missed first shift on the HR watch, have put up the PTE .1 to account for it, and EPOC 6. 0-0-0 -3 PIMS 0

Season: 16 GP 1-2-3 (0-6-6) -9 PIMS 2
Career:  58 GP 3-5-8 (2-9-11)




Saturday, 5 November 2016

G3 - Knights (6) d Storm (2)

This was a good game all around for our team, and a valuable win to counteract the effects of the two previous defeats.  We had twelve skaters, 4 on D, plus Tommy.  I'm not sure how many they had, roughly the same.  We got the first couple goals, answered their first within a minute, followed by another in the second period.  They scored off a powerplay to have it 4-2 going into the last, where we denied them any further score and skated it out comfortable winners.  Nice way to return the favour they handed us last year in the elimination final.

Our team play was a big improvement from previous games, lots of support and a general focus on positioning.  This lead to amongst other things, better protection of the blue lines, fewer off-sides and more breakouts.  There were plenty of second and third efforts from our guys, quicker and more organised changes and a greater commitment from the first.  If we can repeat this and grow comfortable doing it we will become a tough team to beat.

I thought that I played perhaps my best game of ice hockey yet.  I gave a clear assist that wasn't recognised on the score sheet (although it was amongst my fellow players) so I'm not too worried about the boxcars.  I am contributing to our offence and that is enough to know.  The goal came off a direct pass from me, tape to tape to a moving centre.  I was 'in camera shot' for another breakaway goal (I think the scorer skated end to end after collecting a random 'bank pass' from myself) and set up several offensive forays with some good passes.

It was probably the most 'passing game' I've ever played, even having a choice of targets on several occasions.  This last, choice, arose directly from the more positionally aware play of the team generally and, when combined with my own heads-up play, allowed us to take advantage of the opposition to create dangerous situations.

There was some brutal play along the boards, including a full speed frontal collision with an opposing kamikaze winger.  There was a moment of eye contact just beforehand, both of us were resolved.  I spun off him and continued to chase the ricocheting puck, he went down in front of his own bench.  No harm done and we did it again in the third period, and laughed about it in the car park afterwards.  Sadly, I think he managed to trip me behind our net and then hook me on the box (!) as he tried to get his stick out from between my legs.  That hurt, but only enough to motivate me - especially as the referees didn't call it.  That's hockey!

I put quite a bit of effort into controlling our net front, and am beginning to function quite well with Bacon.  I'm working out what degree of force is required.  When defending the house I noticed that my head was on a swivel.  I don't think anyone got by me all night.  Holding the lane inside the dots against an outer skating forward and then transitioning to be able to race him and drive him into the corner certainly helps.  Speaking of racing, my heart rate peaked on a race from far blue line to the boards to ensure an icing call, collapsing in exhaustion upon hearing the whistle and then racing for a change.

Plenty more highlights, such as successful pinches later in the game (and failed versions early), holding the blue lines, not passing off-side, several successful stick checks at speed (recall noticing that I had soft hands when doing so), using our net and the backboards to buy time, short shifting.  Also, playing on the PK and having the puck deflect off my boot and over Tommy's glove.  A great and fun game.

My fitness stats are starting to show an improvement from last year, my peak HR  being 10 less than it has been previously for the same degree of oxygen consumption.  A consequence of my pre-season running?  Very heartening!

Next up, top of the table Generals, followed by two games against the sharks and their league leading scorer.  We will need to bring our 'A' game with us!

Season: 0-0-0 -2 PIMS 0

Thursday, 3 November 2016

G2 Predators (6) d Knights (1)

We went down in an otherwise enjoyable game on Tuesday night.  We had thirteen skaters and Tommy in goal.  This is as big a roster as the Knights have had since I started playing.  The Pred's had a similar number.  We ran 4D and three forward lines.  My D partner was Bacon.  It was our second game, the Predators' fourth.  It showed.

Despite the score I was fairly pleased with my efforts.  Two goals against while I was on the ice.  Both times I am satisfied that I was fulfilling my assignment (tracking back the passing option on the first, boxing a big winger out of the crease in the second) and the goal was not down to my error (my D partner fell over at the worst time thus allowing the puck carrier a slot shot on the first and, on the second, our defence got overloaded on the other side and they piled it in).

Highlights in my game were a rush/backcheck combination where I covered the rink to set up a chance and then chase down a breakaway to rob the puck back and send it forward, several board battles where I just tied it up against bigger opponents until help arrived, a perfect stick lift that prevented a high danger shot from a power forward who had knocked me down three times previously during the same play, recovery of the puck in the corner followed by a deft backwards pass to my open winger on the half board (who'd called for it), several times in the slot where I managed to tip or deflect the puck or stick and take the power out of shots.  Got hooked in the final minutes but it wasn't called (hand is still sore).

I wasn't warned by the reff's for anything, didn't pass offside, no giveaways, and managed to see off several 3 on 1 rushes (and a 4 on 1!) just keeping a cool head, spot the worst danger, active stick.  Also played on a couple PK's, the second goal of which was scored while I was on the ice was very late in the second of these.  Played on the PP once also, but we were too chaotic to be threatening.

Not our best game, but could feel the elements coming together as the game went on.

For the night - 0-0-0, -2, 0 PIMS.

Next game, tonight against the Storm.




Tuesday, 1 November 2016

G1 - Kings (6) d Knights (3)

Last Thursday was our season opener in a late game against the Kings.  We had ten skaters and Tommy in Goals.  Five of our players were rookies.  We played 4D and two lines.  First period was tight, 2-1.  Second Period we started to get the upper hand, 4-3.  They skated it out and we had no answer in the last.

As a team we gelled fairly well.  The new guys all pushed themselves hard and they can all play.  We killed off seven minutes of penalties in the second period, including a shorthanded goal to counter their power play goal.  That took a bit of effort and shows what we are capable of (albeit I didn't play much on the PK due Bacon staying out there almost the whole time.

My stats were 0-0-0, no penalty minutes, Minus 3.  Didn't close the gap enough, which cost that first goal as my opponent shot from the middle of the circle.  Tommy wasn't on his game, but no excuse on my part.  Otherwise, was fairly happy with my game.  I joined the rush once in the third, and even carried the puck into the Offensive zone a couple times.

Christian is now our coach.  He seemed to pull the team along with him and spoke common sense.  I like his style, especially the time he takes out to give a quick 'lesson' when a player comes back to the bench (if they need it).  He didn't get too upset during the game and was smiling afterwards.

Not too bad an effort, but we will need to improve (especially positional play) if we want to get value for our efforts in future.

On Sunday I went to my first training for this season.  A fairly basic repertoire, with stopping and stride technique, followed by a simple offensive system practice.  Ended with 3 on 3 shinny - where I noticed that I certainly tie a man up and pressure the carrier BUT without other players doing that I take myself out of the play by doing so and they score a goal.

With schedule changes, we are playing 5 games in 10 nights, starting tonight.  Will get pretty tiring.

On a final note, before our game against the Kings Christian 'awarded' the leadership group positions in the change room.  No surprises that Jonesey was made Captain and Bacon an Alternate, but I WAS surprised when I was named the other Alternate!  This is a bit of an honour, and almost a first for me (haven't had a formal leadership role on a team since an indoor cricket outfit when I was 20).  I went and checked with the guy I thought would have got the gig as soon as possible, but he was keen for me to keep the role, so I have.  I guess I'll have to learn the rules now!

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Go Oilers Go!

The puck drops for the 2016/17 NHL season in a few hours.  Edmonton is on the road in Calgary for the first game.  I won't be able to see it as I will myself be on the road at the time, possibly only will get to watch it sometime over the weekend.  This will be the second season with Connor McDavid as an Oiler.  Here's hoping he has an even better season than last (when he scored over a point per game but missed almost half the season due a broken clavicle due those dirty Flyers).

There has been quite a bit of activity in the Northern hemisphere summer at Oilersland.  Probably the most controversial move was the trade of Taylor Hall for Adam Larsson.  So, we now have a strong right D and lost a top winger.  Me, I liked the trade once I got my head around it.  On the assumption that Larsson is as good as they say he is, the team will benefit more than they'll lose on the exit of Hall.  And I must say that I wasn't a great Hall fan.  He was good, yes, but spent too much time being a hero on his own and then getting shitty when it didn't work out.  Not my kind of player.

We picked up Milan Lucic to compensate on the left wing.  I think I'll prefer him to Hall.  Maybe not as individually brilliant as Hall but pretty damn good none-the-less, but he's a team player and sticks up for his mates (I hated him when he was in Boston).  We can do with a bit of grunt up front and we got it with Lucic on the first line.

Nail Yakapov is also gone, traded for picks to the Blues.  As much as I enjoyed watching him play, he was frustrating due always going offside, bouncing off the guys he hit, missing the goal from point blank (not good for a 'sniper').  The fact he wanted to be traded was probably the icing on the cake and he's gone.  I hope he works it all out, but am relieved he won't need to be covered.

Looking at the opening night roster, it's a long way advanced from this time last year.  We have a D, we have two killer lines leading the forwards, we still have a good number one goalie.  There are still a lot of prospects and rookies (three or four?!) on it, including this year's number 4 overall draft pick (Pool Party!), but I am most glad to see Slepyshev on the list.  I first noticed him before I knew he was an Oiler, in a Weber Cup game a couple years ago playing for his Russian KHL team.  He was ferocious and fast.  He only played one or two games with the Oilers last year.  I think he's looking good at the moment.  I am looking forward to seeing him unleash that ferocity (hopefully against Calgary).

Oh well, another Oilers season begins.  It's hard not to be optimistic at this time of the season.   For an Oilers fan, that usually ends within the month, but I'm hoping this year will be different.  They do say, hope dies last but I'm hoping there's more to it than that this time around.

My prediction?  We'll go close to the playoffs, maybe grab a wildcard spot if injuries don't cripple us like they did last year.  We wait...

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Running Man

There's a theory out there that human evolution is as much linked to our ability to run as it is anything else.  The theory points out that the exponential growth in the size of our brainpans is synchronous with the emergence of homio sapiens from its monkey ancestors, and gave it the edge in its competition with neanderthals so much so that the later vanished from the tale.  To get the growth in brain, we needed a huge increase in protein intake.  We achieved this by eating animals we caught.  Regularly.  Almost two million years before there is evidence that we used tools to do so (or, for that matter, to do anything else).

How did we regularly hunt down sufficiently large animals to supply our growing need for proteins, without tools?  In the savannahs and grasslands that dominated the landscape of early humankind, so goes the story, we were able to take down animals that were bigger, stronger, faster than us by running them down.  Essentially, running them to death (apparently there are still existing cultures where this still occurs).  We could do this because humans are able to run for longer and further than any other animal.

Our bodies distinguish themselves from all other animals in several respects, all geared to allow us to run longer and further.  These include; sweat and essential hairlessness to cool ourselves down independently of our breathing; an actual pace length longer than even a horse's; a breathing musculature that allows for independence from the stride (unlike, say, a cheetah who's powerful legs act as a bellows for the lungs, one pace one super powerful breathing action).  We were made to run, says the theory, and all else followed.

This running man theory has been used to promote all sorts of ideas, from barefoot running to the naturalness of ultra-marathons.  Me? I'm simpler.  I've used it to explain why I seem to like running.   And the more I have run, the more I want to run.  It's a virtuous circle.

So much so that my pre-season training hasn't got out of 'running mode'.  I justify it by referring to the increase in my 'aerobic base', and make the most of it by tailoring into my running as much hockey specific conditioning aspects as I can.  Thus, 'hard running' and interval work takes place in the schedule alongside more traditional threshold and aerobic 'modes'.  The only real specific 'running' modality I do is the weekly 'long run' - an aspect of marathon training far more so than for hockey (in fact, a concentration on this 'running agenda' is contra-indicated for hockey players if taken beyond a certain point).

Perhaps the fact that I will be shifting back a gear or two in my running program in the months to come allows me to justify pushing it to the forefront now.

And, as a runner I'm pretty pleased with what I've achieved.  In the last week I ran a total of 28km, with the longest individual run being of over 10km one moonlit night.  It's been quite a journey!

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Pre Season Training Thoughts

The upcoming season is the third for which I will have prepared myself with a pre-season schedule of fitness, conditioning and skills training.  Unsurprisingly, and even though it is still early days this year despite my later than ideal start, I feel better equipped than in the past and that my efforts will be more effective as a result.  Hopefully it's not just hubris.

Since my last inline game in early August it was another four and a half weeks before I did any specifically 'sporty' activity (namely, a social skate at the Ice Arena one Wednesday evening).  Not that this was a huge change, as I hadn't done anything EXCEPT play inline once a week since May.  Be that as it was, I thoroughly enjoyed my ice skating and drove the heart and lungs reasonably strongly.  I felt great afterwards, realised that I'd better stop procrastinating about beginning some pre-season training (I'd been finding 'reasons' not to start for the previous couple of weeks), that higher level physical exertion isn't only good for you, it FEELS good as well!  So, a couple days later I strapped on my heart rate monitor and went my first run in five months.  And thus began my pre-season training program for this season.

In the first couple days I ran 3km each, the following week totaled 22km, the following one over 25km, this week will be close to 30km.  I can feel the heart/blood/lungs starting to respond to this increase in aerobic activity, to the point where I now feel safe starting some anaerobic work (began this phase of training yesterday evening).  Next up will be core and leg strength work (this week), agility (next week) and general overall skills training (subject to weather for some inline skating, otherwise stickhandling with a golf ball every second evening every second day or so).

If I treat the first game of the season as actually falling within pre-season period I buy myself a couple extra weeks before I need to transition into regular season activity, so I have about a month to go.  That's enough time to make a significant difference to my performance.  Especially if I maintain some basic fitness and skill work into my schedule through at least the first half of the season.

The plan is evolving!

Sunday, 2 October 2016

The Plan

It is two and a half weeks to our opening ice hockey game for the season, and another 15 days before the second (we play five times over the ensuing 24 day period).  Having moved to the Mid North (about two hours drive from the Ice Arena) there will be a few changes for me from the last three seasons.  Ironically, this pre-season period is that which will be least affected by the move (as it primarily involves individual off-ice fitness and conditioning work, as opposed to team or ice based activity). 

The big changes for me are a function of the distance I need to travel and the time it takes to do so.  I won't be getting to training with any regularity (and possibly not for weeks at a time), I won't be playing inline hockey over summer, and I'll have a two hour car trip both before and after my games.

To alleviate the issue of the two hour drive beforehand, I'll try and leave earlier so that I can have some 'chill' time before starting to focus in on the game ahead.  As I would be having my main meal at least four hours before a game, if I had that and then drove in I'd have a couple hours to get over the trip.  Sounds better than what I did with inline over winter, when it was get out of the car and get changed and play.

As for lack of training sessions or inline games, I can aim to do the best I practically can to attend trainings (half is better than none) and factor some individual skills sessions into my fitness and conditioning schedule.  As for skating practice, take advantage of what spare trips to Adelaide I get to call in at the Ice Arena, and get in some inline skating at the local primary school when the weather fines up.

All of that is for the future, however, except for fitness and conditioning and maybe some individual skills work.  I can do these things now.

Sounds like a plan.


Friday, 23 September 2016

The season just gone

After a long hiatus I return!  Since last posting I played out a whole season of inline hockey.  It's only four weeks to my first game of the coming season on the ice.  I have started up a 'crash course' of fitness and conditioning.  Life is good.

My first season in Division 1 inline hockey at Gawler was played for the Rolling Dead.  Fast, physical and competitive.  Our leaky defence, amplified by poor offence (6th), subverted valiant goal tending (2nd) to ensure the Rolling Dead didn't make the playoffs.  We ended up fifth on the ladder (six teams).  I totally loved the jersey!

I made all twelve of our games.  Each was an experience unto itself for me.  Some games I shone on the face off, others I played an (almost) impassable defence, others I got good shots on goal and, in some, I scored.  There were a number of highlights and a few lessons (some of which I detail below) but the overall experience was one of steady improvement and continuing enjoyment.

I didn't attend a single training session for the whole season, either with others or on my own.  I didn't touch my skates except to play a game.  I did no physical training or exercises at home.  I did turn up for several games after a morning mixing concrete, chopping down trees, digging holes.  All of this and a two hour drive each way to get to a game in the first place.

A few events stand out in memory:

Turning up for my first game to discover that I'd be on the rink for the full game (we only had three skaters).  We played till it felt like we had nothing left and then we played some more, used a time out with ten minutes to go, conserved energy when we could, burnt it with gay abandon every shift.  We ended up with a victory, my fitness tracker recorded the highest performance metrics I've yet produced and I got my first goal at this level (pass from Brad in the corner to me in slot).  What a game!

In our third game we were soundly beaten 11-1.  The junior star of the opposing team scored six goals and made a couple of assists, our goal keeping was the lowest I've ever had on a team, but I still greatly enjoyed the game.  Mainly because I shut down their star for the second half by playing good solid defence (though he kept on scoring when our first line was on the floor).  In other words, and in spite of the score line, I grew more confident in my defensive abilities after this game.

In Game 5 I blocked five shots and scored a nice goal on the rush off of a desperate and accurate pass from Jess.

In Game 11 I single handedly scored game tying goal after taking advantage of my own centre face off win, backing my skating to thread a gap in the defence and quick release a snap shot at speed.  I also played out a couple of penalty kills, including the dying minutes (using my body and feet to good effect against bigger stronger players more than my stick).

In Game 12 I finally started to strip the puck from the opposition with more regularity (twice off of their best player) and deny them the slot when it counted.  I was also skated around twice by a better skater in the zone (once leading direct to a goal).  I then took part in a shift which was probably the strongest I've either witnessed or played in at my level, with Josh and Jess being the primary movers and me using every bit of my lungs and legs to give support as they tore off dangerous shot after dangerous shot and we controlled the puck for several minutes (and their goalie denied us each and every time we thought we'd scored (I hit the post twice)).  Great play, no result, they scored shortly after we made a change.  Sigh.

Lack of fitness work (ie neither training, nor High Intesity sessions as a substitute) or hockey training (neither team training sessions, nor private time with stick and/or puck to compensate) led to a decline in my capacity over the season, especially when combined with the 'external' factors of work around the house (lumber work, digging, concreting) and travel times (for example, arriving after a two hour drive to immediately get changed and play, no 'adjustment' time to compensate for the drive).

If I am content to continue to learn hockey sense from game to game, I can pick up that same game to a higher level by doing the following in future:
- sustained in-season strength and conditioning work, prioritising high intensity sessions (1 or 2 'tabata' runs or indoor cycle sessions per week), leg strength and agility (twice weekly) and skating/shooting/stick handling sessions (upto twice weekly).  That's a fair bit to work into a busy life, but I'll try.
 - getting to the game with time for my muscles and mind to recover from the drive before I have to focus on game.

As for my first Div 1 season, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, learned a lot about hockey and myself, and can't wait to repeat it next year.

Individual Stats: GP 12 G 3 A 2 T/P 5 PIMS 4
Rolling Dead Stats: W 5 L 7 T 0 GF 69 GA 71 SV% .805