Archive for the ‘hockey’ Category

The frustration mounts

Posted: August 1, 2014 in fitness, hockey, ice hockey

I haven’t been updating people much on the shoulder operation recovery in the past few months, but that’s mainly because there hasn’t been much to update on. I saw my consultant a week ago and I was allowed to return to weight training, which I felt was great news, and to be fair it is great news. It beats doing just body weight exercises, but the return to the free weight area hasn’t been as straight forward as I had hoped.

 

I posted a picture on Instagram of what I can bench at the moment.  Lifting just the bar is far from ideal at this stage, but I sort of understand it. I have had three months off and not loading the right arm with any weight. What is still more frustrating is that I can’t seem to get the full range of motion into the lifts. I guess those are the anchors that are holding the joint back.

 

It has been fairly frustrating as I haven’t been able to complete some of the exercises thanks to the joint not having full range of motion with a weight load on it, or that the joint is still sore when trying to do something like a power clean or a clean w/jerk.

 

I was never the biggest of guys in the gym, but I’ve gone to the guy in the weights area that is using a 2kg weight to do flyes and deadlifting 20 kg, I’m trying to understand that it is all part of the recovery process. I think the reason why it is so frustrating is because I had expected that I would just waltz right on in and start lifting the amounts that I had been before the operation.

 

Maybe it has only now dawned on me, that the injury that I carried was a rather big deal, if it required this amount of fixing.

 

What I’m now focussing on in physio therapy is to strengthen the muscles around the shoulder, which is fine and I actually quite enjoy it, as I can see some progress. The least enjoyable part of the whole recovery process is the stretches that I have to do.

 

What I’m doing at the moment is laying on my right hand side on a bed/couch with my arm bent in a 90 degree angle. I then need to use either my left hand or a stick to push my right arm down. The pain is excruciating, almost to the point that I almost want to throw up, but it is essential that I do it, or otherwise it will affect life on and off the rink. Permanently. The first few are painful, but after two or three stretches I can get my arm below the line of the mattress. But I’d need to get it to bend good 20 degrees more. In terms of pain, that is the single most painful thing about this whole process, apart from waking up right after the operation.

 

But as the old Finnish proverb goes: “Onwards, said grandma while stuck in the snow.”


The summer is a great time of year. Time for BBQs, hanging out with your family, making a trip back home for a few weeks and then there is the off season. What has been particularly pleasing about the last two summers is that it has been hot, which in turn allows me to do a lot of off season work outside – in the name of resistance chute sprints and plyo ladder work.

What has been a continuing trend from last summer is the number of people that come and talk to me about my chute sprints. It’s a strange concept to people, but at the same time it intrigues them. I generally do the sprints at the park right by my place (hooray for suburbia).

Usually I have to answer the following questions:

What is that?
What are you doing?
What are you training for?

I get these questions from kids and adults alike and sometimes have people standing and watching me do the sprints. No pressure there then. I really do not have a problem in talking to people about the training and they are usually really surprised when I tell them I train for hockey. Their usual reaction is “oh but you just beat people up,” which I try and nervously laugh off. Usually I can get a good conversation going with people about it and the benefits of doing it.

What is surprising to me though is that there are kids and teenagers who play football. I admit I don’t know what level they play to, but I would like to think that this type of training would be something that professionals do as well. It may be an alien concept of training around the area where I live, but it’s a heck of a way to get into shape.

Speed chute sprints have become one of my favorite exercises during the past two off seasons, and even more so now with recovering from the shoulder surgery and all. What’s so appealing in the exercise to me is that in that sprint you literally give everything and continually tell yourself that you can go faster.

But all in all. I think I am the only weirdo in the neighborhood as most other people go to the park to play football, cricket or frisbee. You should see the looks we get when we break out the Finnish game Molkky. It’s good to be a bit weird though. Always push the boundaries with your training, whilst keeping your own goals in mind, regardless of how many eyeballs are looking at you and looking at you all confused.


The brand:

The Winnwell brand is a bit of a new one to us, having not really seen much of the equipment in the European hockey stores or featured much in trade shows. In the NHL, Winnwell is perhaps more known for its gloves than other visible equipment. It does manufacture shoulder pads, sticks and shin pads.

Having done a bit of research into the company, they have been around the game since forever it seems. Winnwell has a strong pedigree in manufacturing protective equipment that has been built with the pros in mind and to pro-spec. Further research shows that some of the games’ greats have worn Winnwell equipment so the brand certainly has the pedigree behind it. However, Winnwell might not have the marketing budget of some of the other big brands, but does that hinder the quality of equipment? That’s what we are going to find out.

The equipment features:

Side profile of the Winnwell Pro-Stock Elbow Pads

Side profile of the Winnwell Pro-Stock Elbow Pads

What we have been testing is the Winnwell Pro Stock elbow pads. The elbow pads, the company says, have been built to the specifications and demands of the professional player. When you look at the gear out of the box (or bag in this instance), the elbow pads definitely have an ‘old-school’ feel to them and a look and profile that is akin to the days of the good old Jofa protective. In fact if you Google Jofa 9144 Pro Stock Elbow pads, you’ll see a striking resemblance between the two.

Where most elbow pads have gone towards a more low profile look, Winnwell has provided a protective that calls back to the good old days of hockey. The shoulder cups are actually quite deep in comparison to many other elbow pads in the market. This design ensures good strong fit for the pads. However, it can be a bit of a shock depending on what you are used to wearing. If you have been wearing some of the lower profile elbow pads, the first time you wear the Winnwell product you’ll feel a bit out of sorts to begin with, but even towards the end of our first session with these pads they felt really comfortable towards the end.

The elbow pads come with Winnwell’s clean hockey technology which is designed to keep its equipment smelling fresh. After 2 months of use on the pads, there is hardly any “hockey” scent on the elbow pads.

Breaking in and fit:

Breaking the elbow pads in was a bit of a strange experience. Out of the bag the elbow pads do feel a bit stiff, which is to be expected with any new piece of equipment. On first use the pads felt extremely comfortable, but for the first 20-30 minutes of training the elbow pads felt a bit stiff which did affect shooting and puck handling a little bit. This trend lasts probably about 3-4 training sessions before you are fully accustomed to the elbow pad. But like said above, towards the end of each of the first few sessions the pads actually feel really comfortable and you hardly notice you are wearing new pads.

Sticky material on the wrist guard helps keep the pad in place

Sticky material on the wrist guard helps keep the pad in place

As mentioned the elbow cups are a bit deeper than other elbow pads, which can take a bit longer to get used to. However, what the deeper cup has resulted in is comfort and great fit. The elbow pads come with a sticky liner on the wrist that has been designed to keep the pad in place against the compression layer. Having used both T-shirt and compression long sleeve, the elbow pads do stay in place, which is a rare feat in elbow pads. Often during a game you have to fix and alter the position of your elbow pads, but the Winnwell Pro-Stock does actually stay in place relatively well.

However, the only criticism that there is to the Winnwell Pro-Stock elbow pads is that the Velcro attachment areas could be a bit bigger to ensure a tighter fit. Despite wearing the right size, there is still a little bit of slack on the bicep area of the elbow pad.

Value for money

What the Winnwell Pro-Stock elbow pad scores big on is value for money. The elbow pad provides protection that is equal to the top of the range CCM, Reebok, Bauer or Warrior gear, but at a fraction of the cost. The graphical design isn’t something that will set the world on fire, but then again the elbow pads are under your jersey, so it doesn’t matter what they look like. The main point is that they protect your elbows and bicep.

For £45 for elbow pads you cannot go wrong. Do not let the relatively low price tag of Winnwell’s equipment fool you. It does not mean that the product is bad quality or that there’s something wrong with it, far from it. We think that this piece of equipment is where price and quality meet. You are not paying over the odds for a top of the range elbow pad and it will not leave you hanging dry. The elbow pads do not rely on any gimmicks and we have been positively surprised by them.

Durability:

winnwell3As mentioned above, the Winnwell Pro-Stock elbow pad will not break the bank, but one thing that people will question is that whether a sub £50 elbow pad will actually last or if it is going to fall to pieces after a few months use. We have had these elbow pads for almost five months in active use, but during the time there have been no faults with the equipment. The straps are still where they’re supposed to be, the elastic straps have not lost any elasticity (though this will happen over time on any piece of protective).

Despite taking a few falls and purposefully elbowing plexi glass at the rink, there are no signs that the cover of the protective cup has worn.

Conclusion:

Once the elbow pads have been fully broken in, they perform really well and equally to other top of the range elbow pads. The Winnwell Pro-Stock elbow pads hark back to the era of the good Jofa equipment. The pads are relatively lightweight compared to others. In comparison, the Winnwell Pro-Stock weighs about the same as CCM U12 elbow pads, so that’s not too bad.

We’d recommend the elbow pads for both league players, as well as recreational players who are looking for good quality protection but don’t want to spend too much money. That’s not to say that this is a beer league level pad, far from it. It can cope with the demands of the professionals, but for those that want top of the range protection, why pay over the odds.

 

Pros:

  • Great value for money
  • Durable
  • Stays in place during play
  • Comfortable
  • Great ‘old school’ feel

Cons:

  • Can take a while longer to break in than others
  • Can feel a bit bulky at first few uses
  • The Velcro strap areas could be a bit longer for tighter fit in places

 

Midnight epiphanies

Posted: June 9, 2013 in fitness, hockey, ice hockey, Sports

As I woke up at 01:00 it wasn’t because of a noise outside or that I was not sleeping well. I woke up as I had an epiphany. I usually get these epiphanies every summer at different stages, but these epiphanies are what I use as my triggers and as the subconscious affirmations towards the game.

Where I have been working on off ice conditioning for over a month now, it has been out of habit and because I generally enjoy exercise and I like to stay in shape and to make sure that I’m ready for next season. But the epiphany is really the spark for everything. It is what re-lights that fire that was first discovered when a hockey player laced up the skates for the first time. That primitive calling of ‘this is MY thing’.

Well, as if I needs any more affirmations for it, but I love this game. I couldn’t imagine a life without the game and everything that comes with it. I even love the lengthy preparation for the season. This epiphany, like I said, happens every summer and usually acts as a trigger to say that my mind and body have rested enough from last season.

The only thing now is that I have an insatiable urge to be back on the ice and I’m itching for the opening face off already. I want to be on that roller coaster ride that takes you to incredible highs and through the lowest of lows. Hockey can be a cruel mistress.

I don’t think I’ll be catching much sleep tonight as I’m going to be pumped from this.

Sweat saves blood

Posted: May 21, 2013 in fitness, hockey, ice hockey, Sports

That was the adage that our drill sergeants and lieutenants were drilling into us in the army during basics. It was probably about 28c and we were in the forest in full gear digging fox holes. “Sweat saves blood! You dig that hole now and during an international hard ammo training you won’t bleed” was one line I that has stuck with me.

At the time when this took place I wanted to take my spade and throw it into the forest along with my rifle and tell the ‘man’ to “stick it”. However all that would’ve gotten me was a trip to retrieve said items and probably would’ve made my basics time hell.

But why am I droning on about the army and what I learnt? Well the motto of ‘sweat saves blood’ is good for the life of a hockey player as well. The off season is a time she. You are meant to sweat and put in countless hours of work on the road and in the gym. Your exercises get weird looks, as there aren’t too many people slamming a medicine ball around are there?

If you look into the laundry basket, it would be full of workout shirts and shorts that literally reek of sweat after you have given every last grain of energy in your body.

Sweat saves blood. The work we put in to training during the summer makes all the difference come opening face off. It can give you that split second edge on the ice, which can mean a goal or avoiding a check that might make you bleed. What is better? Have the bleeding and associated pain with it, or go through a smaller amounts of pain and sweat to avoid that injury?

Off season training is not easy. It shouldn’t be a walk in the park. It’s there for you to push yourself and find extra levels within yourself that will ultimately make you a better player, a better, healthier person.

*excuse any typos. Post written on a not so smart device


18 years ago, 7th of May 1995, a Sunday afternoon and Finland was playing in the World Championships. That Friday before, my teacher at school had asked us to show our hands if we thought Finland was going to win gold. I didn’t raise my hand. I didn’t think that the team was going to do it, given the disappointment of the year before.

On that Sunday afternoon I wasn’t paying the game my full attention. Yes, Finland was in the final, but I thought that Sweden would be the winners of the game. They always beat us in hockey, especially in big games like this.

I remember that I had my friend Hannu over at our place and that we were in my room playing computer games or whatever and went to check on the score a couple of times. It was 0-0. Until we heard my mom and dad roar. Finland had scored. Ville Peltonen had put the puck in the net for the first time. That was it, maybe Finland did have a chance.

We watched the remainder of the game and saw Peltonen score two more goals and Timo Jutila add another. It was set, Finland was going to win the World Championship in ice hockey. A sport that is engrained in so many Finn’s psyche. It was a big deal. It still is a big deal.

The country went into a frenzy, just like it would do 16 years after that Sunday in May 1995. There were parades held up and down the country so that people could greet the heroes. I went to one event in Hameenlinna and saw Timo Jutila and Marko Palo with the trophy. I remember that Marko Palo signed my hockey card I had of him (which I have since lost) and that he was wearing these big Ray-Ban sunglasses to hide his blood shot eyes.

One of the relics that I still have at my parent’s house is a signed team photo of that 1995 team. It’s in a glass frame and I don’t dare fly it over to my place in case it would get damaged in transit.

Since then the saying -95 never forget has become somewhat of a joke amongst Finnish hockey fans. Today will be 18 years since the nation’s expectations were changed and we started to patiently wait for gold year after year, only to come away disappointed, until 2011.

We may only have two World titles to our name, no Olympic gold, no World Cup of Hockey honours, but those two World Championships mean so much to the Finns that it’s almost impossible to describe in words, even if the value of the World Championship event has diluted a little bit, it being an annual tournament and all.


At the Stockholm group of the World Championships, there has been a minor upset brewing in the form of the Swiss hockey team. The Stockholm group of the World Championships was touted to be the tougher of the two groups as it featured talent packed teams, such as Sweden, Canada and Czech Republic. No one could have guessed that the Swiss that are stealing the limelight.

In the opening game of the tournament, the Swiss handed a 3-2 loss to the hosts Sweden and then carried on the run of upsets by beating Canada in the penalty shoot out and then convincingly seeing off the Czech team by 5-2.

The team is comprised of players who play in the Swiss National League. The only NHL name that might be familiar to people is Nashville Predators’ defence man Roman Josi or New York Islander’s prospect Nino Niedereitter. The other recognisable name in the Swiss roster to most hockey fans is goalie Martin Gerber, who won the Stanley Cup with the Hurricanes in 2006.

The Swiss have so far faced and won the toughest countries in its group  – and barring a complete disaster – should be progressing into the second stage of the competition as a team that should not be taken lightly. In the past few years it has been the Swiss who have taken the biggest strides in terms of developing their standard of players and their results at the World Championships stage and it wouldn’t be a surprise if the Swiss were in medal contention this year.

The team is getting steady scoring from all lines and in goal, Gerber has been strong, posting a 1.92 GAA and 92.31 Save percentage in three starts. Perhaps if the Swiss keep going the way they have been, we might see them in the medal games this year. Though it would take a lot to see them in the final, the Swiss could be on the way to building its own Cinderella story for this year’s World Championships.

 

To get the best deals on hockey equipment, please visit Nekoti Hockey by clicking the image above. When registering your account use virtanen as your agent password to get 20% off on all purchases

To get the best deals on hockey equipment, please visit Nekoti Hockey by clicking the image above. When registering your account use virtanen as your agent password to get 20% off on all purchases