Monday, November 8, 2010

Hockey 'N' Heels

Yup, that is me behind the mask. I am the goalie in Doc Marten boots. Being shot at by an NHL player, Dominic Moore. Yes, they were foam pucks. And yes, Dominic, they did actually hurt a bit. I am still trying to register how cool this evening really was.

For several years, the Lightning hosted an event geared towards women during the season called Hockey 'n' Heels. Tonight's event was the first one I was able to attend, and I definitely plan on going next year as long as I still have the means. The basic idea is they take groups around to different stations in the building and you spend time at each one.

Our first stop was with Nigel Kirwan, the Lightning video coach. He had a very large dry erase board with a rink on it and he went on to explain a few of the systems used in the NHL, like the neutral zone trap. He then went on to explain how it differs from the new system that Guy Boucher is using, then went on to show specific examples of the different scenarios with video clips. Hockey is so fast and it can seem very chaotic, but when you see it slowed down and broken down you see that there really is more of a structure. That being said, I know more about the 1-3-1 system and it terrifies me more than ever.

The next stop we made was out on the ice. Nate Thompson, Randy Jones, Teddy Purcell, Matt Smaby, & Dominic Moore joined us with some passing and shooting on the net. Matt Smaby was lovely and very encouraging to me and my friends, even telling me I had to have a victory celebration after making a goal. I went for the standard arms in the air pose. I thought about doing the Ovechkin "hot stick" routine, but we only had so much time. Next, Dom Moore recruited us for the goaltending station. Which basically involved us putting on a mask, glove, blocker, and holding a stick while he shot foam pucks at us. So.. so.. SO much fun. I don't mean to fangirl, but an NHL player told me I made some good stops. SO COOL.

After that, we were taken to the next station with featured a former referee and Dominic Moore's wife Katie. Katie has been with Dom through trades to eight different teams and moves. From Montreal to Minnesota to New York. All over the place and through a lot of time alone. I also gained a lot of respect for the refs and what they go through. You never think about it, but their families are affected by all the travel as well, and every single one of their games is an away game.

The next station was up in the press box with Rick Peckham and Bobby Taylor of the TV crew and Dave Miskin from the radio broadcasts. Everything ended up with a trip to the locker room and the trainers rooms. It is mind boggling to think about what goes in to the day to day operations of a sports team and the amount of stuff that has to go on the road with them.

It was a great night and I can't wait for next year. Tomorrow when the Bolts take the ice, one of the goalies will be where I stood. Hope I left some good luck on the goal posts.

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