I've been a NY Rangers fan since as far back as I can remember. My father and I used to watch them play (and mostly lose) on a little12 inch TV. I've been to the Garden more times than I can count, and I was part of the celebratory throng outside in 1994 when they finally won the damn Cup again. One the subway home a guy looked at his stub with quiet calm and then held it out to me, telling me to take it. "I want the moment to be shared." I still have it. It was a from a non-drinking section, which was ironic given how drunk I was at the time.
As much as I love the Blueshirts, their lack of musical taste bothers me. Unless this has changed recently, the music that plays when they score a goal at home is Rock and Roll Part 2 by Gary Glitter, which is tired and overused and oh yeah, by a pedophile. Or a child porn watcher, if that's any less evil. They need something better. Boston has the Dropkick Murphys, and Chicago uses the Fratellis . . . we need something good. I want to hear a good song play in my head if I score a goal.
Our last night of clinic found us Shequi-less again, unfortunately. There was a little bit of chatter in the cramped locker room this time, which meant we were being accepted I guess. On the ice we started with drills, of course, which I had my usual difficulties with. There was one where we skated all five circles, and damn I wanted to try my crossover but there were always two guys right behind me and I didn't want to fall and take everyone out. I just chugged around as quickly as I could. Someday, crossover, someday. Jeff, meanwhile, continues to look more and more natural. Jerk.
We did do a stopping drill again, and I have definitely found my idiot savant skill for hockey. I can stop. I can stop on either side with full confidence. I have no idea why. After my earlier struggles with, well, everything, the coaches were laughing about it. I have no idea why it was easy for me. Skiing? Who knows? I'll take it. We also did a drill that involved giving and receiving two passes before shooting at . . . a net. I hadn't shot at a net yet, not one standing up the right way, and the satisfying THUNK the puck made as it clanged against the back of the net was so very, very satisfying. One my second pass I got cheeky enough to try to lift the puck and damned if I didn't put the biscuit in the basket two feet up. Having no goalie helped.
We headed into a full half-hour of scrimmaging with twelve players on a side, so the coaches told us to play four on four. That means more open ice, which is not quite to my wobbly-ankled advantage. To make it worse the guys we were paired with (of course the Hanson Brothers were together) wanted to play forward, so Jeff and I played defense. I really, really want to be a defensemen, but I really, really don't skate well enough for it. My backwards skating is much better, but not fast enough yet. Unfortunately, I'm out of clinic time to improve it.
We did okay for a while. Of course Erika the Valkyrie was opposite me, and after a while she undressed me with an outside move and scored on the empty net. I ventured up ice a little, blocked some shots, made a pass or two. Jeff actually skated with the puck and PUT A MOVE on a defender. It was so much fun. Our linemate turned out to be from my town, which evidently fields a team. He made vague promises to get back to me on joining up, but overall he seemed a pretty cool guy.
My bugaboo of seeing the ice but not having the ability to capitalize on it continued to vex me. I saw Erika line up a long pass, made my move to intercept it, and missed. Now if it had zipped past the tip of my stick I could rationalize that I had just been too slow, or read it late. But it went between my stick and my feet, which means I just overskated it. Yeah, no waving that away.
We finished with breakaways against the lone goalie. I slid my feet back and forth waiting for my turn, excited and nervous. I hadn't taken a shot in our scrimmages due to both lack of and missed opportunities, but now it was reckoning time. Jeff went before me and drew a compliment from the coach. He was really starting to look at home on the ice. I took the coach's pass and flew in at what seemed like high speed to me but was probably a crawl, cradling the puck on my blade. As I neared I shifted to my backhand, and as the goalie started to move I pulled back to forehand, cut to my right, and rifled a shot toward the top corner, over his waffle.
At least, that's what I meant to do. He had me read perfectly and was moving back, in good position to make the save. However, my transition from forehand to backhand wasn't as smooth as it could have been, and instead the puck slid off my blade mid-exchange . . . toward the net, at about five miles and hour. It went right through his five-hole and, as I skated by, over the line for a goal. The netminder's shouted 'FUCK!' echoed throughout the rink.. I didn't make a big deal about it - no stick raising, no fist pump. Act like you've been there before.
In my head, though, 'Chelsea Dagger' was blaring. Season starts this Sunday. I may not be good, but I'm ready. To quote the Dropkicks, 'Drop the puck, it's time to go!'
Writing: 1060 words. Oh yeah. Getting wayyyyyyy too long again.