My first season* as a hockey goaltender ended this past Tuesday night, and it's not difficult to pinpoint the spot where things went awry. During the last week of October I had my regular gig for the Mustangs on a Tuesday and a fill-in game in goal the following night with the Scurvy Dogs, the team I usually play defense for. Two game in two nights was a recipe for disaster, but instead I lost the Mustangs game in a shootout, 5-4, and then somehow won the next game 3-1. Both sets of teammates were amazed (although none more so than me) but my exploits did a terrible thing - it allowed them to hope.
See, I went in knowing I was going to be terrible. I'm 47 and learning how to play a high-skill position with a marked lack of agility, lousy equipment, and zero formal training. My goal (ha!) was to keep the score against me under double digits each game, which is not as easy as it sounds. So when my goals given up went in successive games from 9 to 7 to 4 to 1 I got a false sense of confidence. Even worse, my teammates on the Mustangs got it too (the Scurvy Dogs were familiar enough with me to know I'd gotten lucky). Their expectations went up even as the law of averages began to exert itself. I had a couple of pretty lousy games in a row before somewhat straightening myself out this week - giving up 7 doesn't sound sexy, I know, but I faced at least 40 shots and the last two goals came at the end when we were shuffling guys around. I had a guy playing D in front of me who had no idea what he was doing and screened me so that I never saw the sixth goal, only felt it as it clanged off my cup on the way in (hurrah for the double cup. Hur-effing-rah). I ended up with a GAA of 8.22, which is . . . nah, there's no way to spin that. It sucks, even if a few of my teammates have been gracious enough to suggest that our forwards were not exactly obsessed with fulfilling their defensive responsibilities. All I can do is try to make it better next season.
As for when I'll get that shot, I'm not sure. The Mustangs are on hiatus as the captain takes a season (or more) off and the others move to different teams. I was offered a skating spot with some of my teammates but am choosing instead to go to the adult hockey clinic once a week, where I'll be pelted with pucks by skilled players for the better part of an hour with nobody keeping score. It's the kind of no-pressure reps that I need, combined with a couple of semi-private lessons that Santa is rumored to be bringing me. Maybe that'll make me better. Not likely to make me worse.
* speaking of seasons, if you haven't been watching the just-concluded second season of Fargo you should probably do so when it becomes available again in February. Fantastic stuff.