While our regularly scheduled games are each Tuesday night at 1:15 am, we had last week off. However, during our game 2 weeks ago, we were asked if we wanted to play anyway, just on Wednesday. Of course!
So we show up completely pumped and find that half of our team skipped out! Normally this would be a bad thing but for D-League hockey, this is actually good. We have 9 people and no goalie. The officials propose that we let one of their friends play goal and we agree. So these leaves us with 9 people, creating 2 lines. Since we switch lines every 3 minutes, every person will get to play 3-on, 3-off, 3-on, 3-off....except each time someone will have to stay on the ice for a double shift.
As it turns out, only our 'better' players showed up. This made for a great game. We lost our first two games but destroyed this team. The final score was 5-1. Spectators tell me that the final score should have been 6-1 but an error was made. There was just too much scoring action for me to keep track!
Now here's the crazy part--we all played really well! I know! We're terrible! We were lucky enough to play a team more terrible than ourselves! We were passing and setting up plays and everything! Frank had a goal, Sarah had an assist, and I had 2 goals and an assist. Yeah, I hardly believe it myself. You're probably saying the same thing my dad said when I told him: "did they have a goalie?" Yes...but apparantly he sucked. It wasn't all his fault--the other team wasn't really into the whole skating thing. :)
I learned a few things during this game. Most of these apply to people who are not very good ;). If skating with the puck through a weak defender, simply charge through them. I don't mean that you actually knock them over, but just go past them. 75% of the time you will end up with the puck on the other side. 50% of the time the defender will fall down, creating a makeshift blockade, protecting you from other defenders.
Another technique to use against unskilled skaters is to skate around them. They will sort of spin around but not persue you. It seems obvious, sure, but once employed this is a very successful tactic. This doesn't end with the defender falling down as often but since no one can skate backwards in D-League, it doesn't really matter.
Finally, a technique common to most sports: passing. Believe it or not, d-leaguers almost never pass. It occurred to me that when surrounded by 4 defenders, passing out of the group to a teammate would leave him/her almost completely open. This is another obvious one that we've only begun to use. The initial step is tough though: learning to pass. This, for me at least, seems to consist of a lot of bad passes which go straight to the other team, reducing its effectiveness.
I assure you, we are improving. Since we won last week we will be heading into the playoffs!
If this turn of events has inspired you to come out and see us play, we'll be on the ice at 1:15am tomorrow night (Tuesday night/Wednesday EARLY morning).