The Smell

Do you smell it? No not a tail kicking a comin. No not fall. The smell I mean is the smell of 20 guys in a locker room gearing up to play hockey. That’s a smell that comes through (even through a computer screen if you have ever experienced it). Yes hockey season has started in Potsdam!

We have a “old farts” hockey game at Clarkson. Monday nights about 20 faculty and staff (though we have an increasing number of grad students playing now) get together to play a little friendly (no checking) game of hockey. We play for an hour and a half and we have awesome ice time (6:45-8:15 pm). Prime time. Somehow we are lucky enough to have a good relationship with the rink manager and so we get a great regular time slot to play.

Like many of the sports I take part in I came to hockey late later in my life. It was something I was always interested in as a kid, but never got to play. It (well just about all sports) just wasn’t a part of the culture of my life growing up. And so I never played.

About 4 years ago my friends convinced me to get some skates and some gear and come out an play. The first season was really rough. I had to learn how to skate (yeah I could get around on the ice before that, but I wasn’t a very good skater). I also had to learn how to skate with a stick and with a puck (which is much much harder than those guys on TV make it look). At 40 it was another lesson in humility. They guys I play with vary in skill. Some played since they were born. Some play in other leagues. My strength? Well skating really hard, not being able to stop, and plowing into people. That was my move to get the puck away from others. My goal with the puck was just to get rid of it as fast as I could. But the guys I play with are pretty good about playing at an appropriate level and so even then it was a lot of fun.

Last night was the first night of the season for me. The week before (opening night) the weather was fantastic and so I was in a tree deer hunting rather than skating. (It was worth missing. Didn’t see any deer but it was a really relaxing night in the woods.) And so the cross training begins.

Hockey uses a lot of the same muscles as biking. Did you know Eric Heiden became a pro cyclist after he retired from speed skating? In fact his Olympic exploits (and his name) were largely responsible for the formation of the 7-11 Cycling Team and Greg Lemond’s rise.

But it also uses some different muscles. Muscles that have been neglected during the summer. Muscles that protested last night during the game. (I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to walk today. But so far so good. It is an rest day, which is well timed. UPDATE: I woke up the next day feeling fine. Then as the day progressed I became progressively more sore until people were asking me why I was limping. Sigh.)

My game last night. Eh, pretty good. I got some skating in. I disrupted some plays. I made a really nice cross ice pass to a team mate who scored. I even managed to not be able to stop and run someone over. Though in a difference from the past, I had the puck, I wanted to keep it. I was trying to muscle past the guy I knocked over, not knock him over. Next week I expect to be better.

It’s nice to have something on the training schedule that isn’t “warm up with 20-30 minutes of spinning. Follow this with 2-3 descending intervals….”