Hockey is an intense collision sport, where inevitably injuries and high impact contact is bound to happen. It is something that we, as players, come to expect game in and game out. I suppose that the old adage of no guts, no glory is more apt to hockey than any other sport.
The funny thing is that unless you are caught in a funny angle (or from behind) that hits really hurt. Sure there are times when players my size (5ft8 and 182lbs) are out hustled in the corners and more likely to be crushed, but it is part of the game. You take the hit and you carry on. There is no reason to retaliate to hits, you know you are going to get your own back later on.
So how does guts and glory relate to rec hockey and my team the Cougars? Well, the answer is simple: We need to play every game like it is our last of the season to make sure we get to the play offs. Our whole season is about playing at our peak and taking a physical approach to every game. Where our first game of the season showed a stout defenssive effort, we still need to tighten up to avoid more of the 'oh crap' moments. Guys need to start laying their bodies on the line for the good of the team and I mean blocking shots and start dealing with the grit instead of taking stupid penalties.
When I analyse my own play I can pat myself on the back as I felt that I played an OK game, if not a good game. Sure I didn't register points in the game, but you necessarily don't judge a good game by how many notches you have next to your name on the score sheet. I felt quite comfortable on my skates and had decent speed. I'm still recovering from a few muscle spasms that will inevitably slow me down. Maybe the demonstration of my guts and glory was when I was hit from behind, which sent me head first into the boards. I've often said to guys that I've coached that head injuries are not something to play with, but I was able to play through the haze and wasn't afraid.
I feel that after I get rid of the niggling muscle injuries I will be able to push myself even more and make more of a difference on the ice. What I realised is that the team needs an example and some one to follow. I'm not saying that I will start talking it up in the locker room, but I need to demonstrate my commitment to winning on the ice. That means skating with the puck, making good plays and taking shots on target. In our own end I need to start laying my body down and absorb a few shots and really start hitting people. I found that with my line from yesterday what really worked was that we talked on the bench and encouraged ourselves even more, which lead to great pressure being applied in the offensive zone and only rarely were we scrambling for the puck in our zone.
All in all I am pleased with the perfomance and if we maintain this mentaility, then we have a good chance of extending our summer all the way to August. But for that to happen, we all need more guts to achieve that glory.