So, the return. Long awaited and anticipated. I’d eaten my popcorn in the press box and wished I could help the team. Now I was back on the ice and it felt good.
A corny thing to admit, but ever so important if you are a hockey player, but for the first time in a long time I was actually smiling after warm up. Normally after warm up I was already in pain, wishing that the I would last the game. Now I was cautious, but already looking to score.
The first few shifts were adjusting, trying to find my feet and comfort zone. But from there things started to roll. My confidence grew with every shift, bump, hit and shot at a time. It was great and I haven’t had that feeling in a game in a long while.
So in the second period I fore checked one of the Bristol players, gave him a hit (not big mind you) to separate him from the puck. I came out of the corner with the puck to deke a D man covering the near post and got to the slot. I saw my two line mates crashing the net so I unloaded a backhand shot (a rarity for me) and I watched the puck go in glove side. The ensuing celebration was comparable to scoring the first goal of your career. Bit elaborate, but when you have struggled like I have, doing small things like scoring feels bloody great. And besides, I like to score goals and I like to celebrate them as well.
Then in the 3rd period I got the puck in the neutral zone, kept my head up and started skating. I saw one of the other teams’ D men waiting for me and earlier in the game he had hit me a few times so there was that moment of hesitation of ‘you going to do it again’ and ‘how am I going to get past you’. The answer to the latter thought was speed. I took everything I had in my legs and busted down the board, saw that I had beat the D player, decided to cut in, felt a slash across my shin pads but didn’t mind it, kept driving the net. I saw the goalie was in a sideways motion going for the poke check. Five hole wide open. Thank you very much. Just like old days.
The weird thing about the goals was that they both felt like slow motion. Either I was slow and the other team was standing still or I just had the same drive and smile on my face I used to have in juniors and my days in the Dutch leagues. I would say both of the goals were scored with will.
Otherwise? Well the most important thing is that we won the game. For my own part, the two goals help, but it wasn’t a perfect game. My reactions were a bit off, timing was a bit off, I was shying away from too many hits, but all in all I’m going in the right direction.
This weekend will be mega busy for hockey. Double header (one away, one home) and other things hockey on the cards as well 😉