Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Years Resolutions

Happy new year!!! 2009 should be a good one. 2008 certainly was eventful. This is the time when I reflect on the past and consider the coming year. Here are a few of my memories from this year. Please share yours as a comment.

In 2008 I:

1. was the first ever team goalie for VJ's. This is a team that started together in the Rec league and has been together ever since. We are 7 games in and we are 4-2-1 on the season. Not bad. I have a 81.5% save average. Could be better.

2. got my own goalie pads and helmet. This was nice because I did not have to share the rink pads anymore. I took advantage of a short fat kid and kind of stole em. It was easy. Like lunch money...

3. got my referee's license. I lernt the rulz. Come to find out, I have a set of rules that only apply to me as a goalie. For example, if a goaltender acts in such a way that would cause a normal player to be given a penalty, such as slashing or tripping another player, the goaltender cannot be sent to the penalty box...

4. played in a game where it was so foggy that I could not see the other goalie.

5. was there the moment Marty got his Mary Janes goalie jersey. At a time in his life when the world seemed to be shooting to his weak side, his friend from Gunni gave him the biggest smile you can imagine. Zach told him that he was a part of the family. He was so touched at that moment that he forgot his dad on the way up the hill.

6. made a trip to McCall for a little summer hockey. Andy, Tony, JD, Zach, Tom, Brandon, Troy, Leith, Mike, Jerry, Alan, and Nate. We didn't win any games but we drank a lot...

So that was what I did in 2008. The big question is, What will I do in 2009?

1. I will play more hockey.

2. I will be careful when I drink with anyone who has a numbered mug.

3. I will watch my speed on my bicycle this year.

4. I will figure out how to defend Rhett's "Deke" move and Zach's top shelf shot.

5. I will work understand exactly what they are trying to say in my 2007-09 Official Rules and Casebook.

6. I will be nice to JD's dog.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Christmas week was a little slow in Cowtown at the Palouse Ice Rink. I showed up for 2 open hockey sessions and were both unattended. So, the Dominican Daddy took the hint and pointed the Scubaru north on Hwy 95 to drop in on the "Old Timer" for a couple of days. North Idaho has been getting a little snow and wind so the trip took a little longer than it does in June. There were something like 14 cars moving at 40 mph for 90 miles. Thankfully I have nerves of steel. What kind of music do you listen to for that? I suggest easy listening. My Co-Pilot Euch played a little Andean music to calm my nerves. Flutes and pipes. Patience is a must in a storm that leaves snow by the foot.

So after 2.5 hrs, Euch was asleep, the music had played twice over and my patience was gone. I slid the truck into a nice hockey stop in the driveway at Sister Toots and raced to the door. My timing was perfect. I found the Old Timer working on a taco dinner. Tacos on Christmas eve should be a tradition. "I'll take four please. "

Christmas was great. The Old Timer and I started at the Dominican Daddy's Daddy's Daddy's and Mommy's place for a little breakfast, a few gifts and a talk about all the snow. At 90 years old they were ready for siesta by about 10 am. From there we journeyed north to Uncle Jacks Cabin. There is a whole blog about uncle Jack that just needs to be written. Jack is 60 something years old. He is down to one arm (there is a story about it) and lives happily on top of a mountain with a pad of paper, a pencil for pictures and a pencil for letters, a guitar, prosthetic hook and a carton of cigarettes. He built his 3000 square foot house from lumber scrap taken from yards and state parks through north Idaho over the past 15 years. He voluntarily lives there year round with no power, no running water, no sewer or phone. He just sits up there and lives simply. Right now he is under 5 - 6 feet of snow and has no plans to leave for at least 3 weeks. To find him, we had to hike 2 miles up an unplowed road. I don't like smoking much but I somehow felt inclined to drop him a carton of lights for Christmas. Something about an old dog and new tricks. I think he was actually happier to see the smokes than he was to see me.

So the day after Christmas the old timer and I decided to head to the family homestead up in the Idaho panhandle near the Canada border. My great grandfather built the place 55 years ago. Priest Lake is the Dominican Daddy's favorite place on the planet. It is nestled in the Selkirk mountain range coming out of Canada and has been home to 5 generations of my family.

Priest Lake is just about ready to skate on.

Another couple of weeks and we can send the short fat kid out to check it for depth.

The Old Timer said my stick stick handling was weak at best and put me to work on the driveway. I shoveled and moved snow for 5 hours each day for 3 days.

So that has been my Christmas so far. I am waiting for the New Year. I suspect my next blog should be on resolutions . I hope you have a great New Year!!!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Twas the night before...

T’was the night before face-off and all through the rink,
JD, Rhett, and Andy were all starting to drink;

The Ale House cups got filled by Erin with care,
In hopes that no more goalies soon would be there;

Gracie, the little pucker, was nestled all snug in her bed,
Whiles visions of game winning goals danced in her head.
And Rose with her cocoa and I with my rolled hat,
Had just settled down for a phat winters nap.
When across the fairgrounds there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bench to see what was the matter.

Away to the window I flew like a puck,
Tore open the gate and shouted "What the heck".
The moon shone on the ice and goons in the snow,
It was a picture of hockey with all objects in tow.

When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a black zamboni sleigh and eight fat white tail deer,
With a crippled driver, so lively and hammy,
I knew in a moment it must be Rachel on the Zammi.

Faster n Marty, her giant leg brace it came,
As she whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;
“On Alan! On Walt! Hey Uno and Jerry! On Zach! On Max! Wheres Weeda? and Hey Mary!
To the top of boards! To the top of the wall!
Now skate away! Skate away! Skate away all!”

Thousands of new pucks fell from Rachel's sleigh it started to fly,
She soared over the ice and into the sky.
So up to the rink top courses they flew,
With the sleigh full of score books, sticks, oh, and the rink phone too.
And then, in a twinkling, I heard by the main gate,
The prancing and prowling of little elf skates.

So I drew in my goal glove, and was turning around,
When down the chimney she came with a bound!
She was dressed in EMT gear from her head down to her cane,
And her jersey was all tarnished with blood and smoke stains;
A pair of new skates she had flung on her back,
For the Dominican Daddy as she opened her pack.

A wink of her eye and a twist of her mug,
She spilled some of her eggnog on Euchie my dog;
She spoke not a word, but went straight to her task,
And slarfed down the milk and cookies quite fast.

Now laying her glove side finger against her pink nose,
She gave a big huff and up the rink chimney she rose;
She sprang to her black Zamboni Sleigh, to her team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like a puck or a missile.

I heard her yell as she Zammed out of sight,
A Hockey Christmas to all, and to all... a good-hockey-night.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

How do I play hockey?

After months of harassing phone calls and threatening e-mails, my friend Berk decided to give the slippery side of life a try. "OK! I give in! Tell me Mr. Dominican Daddy, how do I play hockey?"
"Meet me at the rink and I'll show you." I said. Finally! I had the opportunity to catch a stick and puck session with him. As I took in a deep breathe to sigh my sigh of victory, I realized that my nose hairs were stuck together. The thermometer was stuck at -10. What a great day for hockey! I wonder if I should have told him to dress warm. Never mind. He will bring gloves for sure... I was just happy to set him up on a kickstand and let him wander with a puck. He is an exceptional athlete when it comes to turning wide right. I see great potential. At first he struggled a little with reverse. No big surprise. I know many people that have been trying reverse now for 2 seasons without success. Berkley is a quick study of hockey though. By the end of the session he could go from end to end backward and turn wide to the left. What can I say? He was coached by a goalie..."Knees bent! Head up! Get your glove up! Watch the angle. Butterfly Position!" I am not sure how much it helped, but at least he can skate backward now.

So the basic principle of hockey is simple. Hockey is a game played on ice in which two opposing teams of skaters, using curved sticks, try to drive a puck into the opponent's goal. It seems pretty simple and most should agree that this is what you do when you play hockey. But my friend Berk wanted to know how to play hockey. There are so many ways to play hockey. My suggestion would be either goalie, skater, fan, or referee. The nice thing about hockey is that hockey fits most anyone. Here are a few guide lines to help you decide how to pick your style of how to play:

The goalie job is pretty simple.

An incredibly short memory helps. Forget the last goal and play the here and now. Glove up, stick flat on the ice. Stop the puck. That is the Dominican Daddy's perspective anyway.

Skating on the other hand is a little different...

If you ask a skater how to play hockey, a likely response might be "Take the puck down to the other end of the ice. Protect the blue line and do whatever you have to do to get the puck in the net. Don't let the guy in all those sissy pads keep you from putting it in the net. Ignore him. Pretend he is not there. Shoot around him. He can't move with all those pads on..."

To be a fan takes great energy and time...

"Fans" are marked or motivated by an extreme, unreasoning enthusiasm for hockey. Fans can get a little emotional at times. No one loves hockey more. They are as much a part of the game as the player is. The fan knows more about hockey than the players, coaches and refs combined. The best fan sees every play and every missed call. They know all the rules that aren't even in the rule book yet. They know the best match ups and have the best advice for the players. All things considered though, I am not sure if I would really want to ask a fan how to play hockey.

Hopefully the referee would have the best advice when asked how to play hockey...

This advice comes from the best seat in the house. The referee skates up and down the ice, in and out of the game. If the ref sees a part of the game he does not like, he toots his whistle and they do it again until he does like it. A good ref does not care who wins or loses. They just love to help facilitate a great game of hockey. A good ref should probably advise you to play any way you want as long as its within the guidelines of the rules. One of the nice things about being a ref is the help you get from the peanut gallery. Its nice to know that someone far more educated on the rules of hockey and their application is always there to help the ref make a decision. Especially when the ref is not sure what to do.

So, that is the best info I could give Berkley on how to play hockey. For certain there is something for everyone in hockey. He may not be ready to go out and buy a pair of skates yet but there is time yet this season for another round. Next time will see if he likes a size 42 boot better, and I will bring an extra pair of gloves.

Spicin it up Dominican Style

After the exhibition game the other night I was at the Alehouse. Roll Call: The short fat kid was there munching on chicken wings and talking about how he was going to trespass on this guys property to shovel his pond so WE can have a winter classic. Next to JD was Zach who was pondering the likelihood of what JD was speaking into his ear. "We don't even have to call him. He won't care. Now about that 4 wheeler, those kegs, and that sump pump..." Zach just sat and sucked down suds from his "Dude Abides" mug that has paid for its self at least once. Liz had called down their beer so it would be ready when they got to the bar. She is an evil genius. So there I was... listening to Liz talk about how much fun she had at hockey tonight. She had some sort of move that went between her feet and ended up in the goal. It was a relaxed game and she scored a lot. Like 4 times or more. "... most fun I ever had on the ice" she says. About then I remembered that I was the goalie... I must admit that my purpose on the ice isn't always as clear until we talk about it at the Ale House after wards.
So for the 8 skaters, 6 bench warmers, and a red headed step child referee from "Gunni" (all whose only crime was coming to hockey that night) the Dominican Daddy treated his loyal fans with a rarely seen gesture by goalies. The Dominican Daddy spiced things up Dominican style. You may not know that the Dominican Republic is actually on a different planet and hockey is not the #1 sport. Actually the pride of all sports in the Dominican Republic is football. We call it soccer sometimes when we want to impress our American friends with our knowledge of sport. Anyhow, remember the header back in 1970 by Pele down in Mexico that started the best World Cup ever? Tonight the Dominican Daddy busted out with a little header action of his own. It's a move that he didn't have to practice. He just felt it. Twice... Two times he took snap shots and redirected the puck with a forehead fling over a pack of skaters all piled in the crease. With a precision not common to goalies he flipped it to a defender that could clear it. I guess in retrospect, his head was the only part of him that was not smart enough to get out of the way.
Anyway, go figure...

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Dominican Daddy

Who is the Dominican Daddy? You might think of the 6'4" 240 lb David Ortiz.

He is a Dominican Daddy for sure. Great with the stick but more consistant with a glove. The Dominican Daddy I am talking about is close to 30 years old, is 5'6", with no hair, a bad shoulder, and a slightly different sense of humor. He protects the pipes with his $10 goalie stick and his lightening fast short stop like glove. He plays in the rarely used but surprisingly entertaining "Dominican Style". The Dominican Style lends itself to the incredible Dominican shortstop influence such as Golden Glove winner Miguel Tejada, or Orlando Cabrerra.

The pipes he protects are home to the VJ's BBQ goon squad. The leader of the squad is a short fat kid who hates to be called short.

He is the inspiration for the Dominican Daddy. He F*C***G LOVES HOCKEY!!! His high octane offense is powered by two guys named Jeff. Young Skippy is atop the league in scores and can't be stopped. Jones is a VJ's veteran trained in the art of sharp shooting and intercepting the puck. Veteran skater, champion coach and statistics mastermind Andy stays at the top of the league in assists and scores. With him comes another power wing man. As the old man on the team John serves as a veteran player, local softball super hero, and Ale House gimmee.

In charge of keeping the puck as far from the Dominican Daddy as possible is the short fat kid. JD will do anything to keep it away from the Dominican Daddy. He skates right side up, upside down, forward, backward, and everything in between. He is heard from anywhere in the building citing the legendary Marty's "AWWW MAN! HOWD DAT GET IN NERE?!?!?" The goon we call Joanne is a ferocious protector of the blue line. She is one of the original skaters for VJ's. She is one of the most enthusiastic and reliable skaters VJ's has ever seen. A corner stone of the VJ's team. Rec. League coach and goalie extraordinaire, Leith is a notorious hockey junkie. He protects the Dominican Daddy with tenacity as he knows the Dominican style well and may not trust it...

So that is the VJS squad. The Dominican Daddy, his $10 stick, a golden glove, and a team of goons are all that we need to have a good time.