Learning to play ice hockey

Yup, that’s right! I have taken up ice hockey here at home in South Africa. I have always wanted to do this and every time I watch Mighty Ducks I get ever so inspired to start. Well I’ve finally done it and have now been to two practices.

I have joined a club called Warriors at the Kolonade Ice Rink in Pretoria. They have three practice sessions on Monday evening, starting with the beginners at 18:00, moving on to the under 18s at 19:00 and finishing with the seniors at 20:15. When I went for the first time last week, I attended the under 18s session. Well, there is nothing so humbling as being out skated by kids two thirds of my age. Not just by a little bit either. They literally ran circles around me. However, in my own defense, it was more than a year since I last skated with a stick and pads in Sweden. Also, although I did have some of the most important protective gear such as helmet, knees & shins and gloves, I was sorely lacking elbows, pants and shoulders.

After practice I decided that I had better practice on roller blades on Saturday morning. I did this, wiped out and am now hobbling around with a massive bruise and distinct lack of skin on my thigh.

The roller blading practice definitely helped though and when I returned to the ice yesterday (with my roller hockey elbow pads) I was much steadier than last week. One downside of last nights practice was that I had to skate in my jeans because I left my shorts at home. Other than that I had an absolute blast! I skated in both the beginner sessions and the under 18 session and my skating has improved vastly. I have also discovered the following:

  • You can keep your head up and watch where you are going by looking ahead and following the puck with your peripheral vision (out of the corner of your eye).
  • Holding the stick low actually helps improve balance (and is also the technically correct thing to do).
  • Never forget your shorts.
  • Never forget your water bottle.

By the end of the two sessions I was buggered and had to have a bottle of water and a chocolate milkshake from Wimpy in order to recover enough to drive home. Janita was an absolute angel and had supper ready for me. She even waited to eat until I got home so that we could eat together.

My ice hockey objective: become good enough to play on a social team when we have emigrated to Sweden.

There is quite a good chance that we will practice checking next week because the under 18s seem to want to pay full contact. This means that it is quite important that I obtain the rest of the pads before next weeks practice, otherwise I will have to sit out that portion of the practice.

I still need the following pads:

  • Pants
  • Shoulders
  • Elbows

I’m looking at getting them on the internet but I don’t hold out much hope that by the time I’ve added shipping, handling and customs duties it will be any cheaper than the local hockey shop at the ice rink. Unfortunately they have a captive audience and very limited stock and are therefore a monumental ripoff.

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