Review: Warrior QRL Stick

Posted: October 31, 2016 in Uncategorized

qrl1We recently had a chance to test the new Warrior Covert QRL stick. The QRL is the new flagship for Warrior and is quickly becoming a favorite among many high scoring NHL players. For this review we have only used the stick off ice and done some extensive shooting with it and some stick handling work, so whilst we got a good enough feel for the stick, we have not tried it in game situations.

In terms of the look of the stick, Warrior has always had a knack for designing sticks that standout. The QRL is not an exception and you can make it out from the stick rack, even though it relies on a relatively simple carbon/neon blue and orange decal. What we like about the stick is that it’s less about bling like some other sticks and more about performance. As always, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and we are fans of minimalistic stick design as long as the stick performs. Ultimately though, something has to draw you to the stick so, Warrior have done a good job here to make sure that the stick does stand out from the crowd.

The stick that we tested was 85 Flex with W03 blade pattern, which is similar to the P19 on CCM or TC2.5 on TRUE hockey sticks. Overall, the Warrior blade patterns do cater for most tastes and every player should be able to find a curve to their liking.

What you will first notice with this stick when you pick it up from the rack is that it is lightweight. The weight is just qrl3north of 400grams, which is on par with lightness of most modern top of the line sticks. This means that the stick is easy to stickhandle with and you can get a good feel from the blade. For some reason, the feeling we got when stick handling with the QRL was one of confidence. The blade feels stiff and the puck is not bobbling off of the blade but you have good control of it at all times. Also, as a player who doesn’t have the smoothest of hands, the QRL does make it feel like your hands are in fact a lot softer.

Where the stick comes to its own is when shooting with it. The first shot we took was top shelf and you get a really crisp clean ‘pop’ from the stick. It is a bit surprising as with some other sticks that we’ve tested from the likes of Sher-Wood and CCM/Reebok, it usually takes a while to get the stick to ‘soften’ up to get the consistency of shooting. When comparing it to our current favorite stick, the TRUE X-core 9, the QRL is a worthy challenger when it comes to shots.

We still feel that the X-Core gives you more in terms of shot and velocity when you get everything behind it, but the Warrior is not far off. The two sticks are incredibly closely matched here. During the time that we tested the QRL, we felt that the release is a little bit quicker than on the X-Core 9, but it has to be said that we didn’t have the opportunity to test the two sticks head to head.

qrl2Wristers and snapshots are easy to take and feel crisper and harder than on other sticks and we would say that the QRL is ahead of the X-Core 9 here. However, when it comes to slapshots the TRUE and Warrior sticks are on par. The shots feel really heavy and you get a sense of a hard shot with relative ease. You don’t have to put too much torque through the shaft of the QRLand the puck will take off like a rocket. As far as shooting pucks with it, it does leave a smile on your face.

In terms of durability, the QRL has all the signs of being a durable stick and Warrior as a brand is generally quite durable. However, we can’t say how well it holds up in game situations as we had very limited time testing the stick. What would be interesting to learn in  a long term review would be to see how long the blade and the shaft maintain their crispness.

So, Warrior have developed a great stick, but with that stick comes a relatively hefty price tag of $270/€239/£177, which is a lot of money to shell on a stick. However, you do get incredible performance for that money. The thing with Warrior Covert QRL is that there are sticks out on the market that do provide similar, if not slightly better performance in certain areas for not as much money. However, if you are serious about your hockey and it is performance that you want out of your sticks, then we would recommend looking at the Covert QRL from Warrior.

We can only list a few cons for the stick, purely based on the fact that we had limited time to test the stick. We are hoping that Warrior would give us one for long term testing and in our preferred flex so that we can give it an accurate and an in-depth appraisal. 

Pros:
· Lightweight

· Good balance

· Kick and flex

· Good feel for puck
Cons:
· Price

· In some areas other sticks ahead


Without competition, there is no progression” – This was a line from August Burns Red song “The First Step” (from their rather awesome album Rescue & Restore). As that line blared through my headphones at the gym and I had to stop my workout for a bit and start taking stock of the line. Without competition, there is no progression. I put the societal, corporate and capitalist ramifications of the line aside and considered it purely from a sports point of view.

Nowadays at the gym, I prefer to workout alone. I used to enjoy working out with a good friend of mine, but since he’s moved to Canada, those workouts are quite difficult. For me working out on my own is a release and I can focus on my own goals and objectives and keep to my tight regimen as opposed to having to wait for a workout partner to finish their set before I get to have a go. After a hard day, all my stress and everything is taken away by the iron. But as my workouts are geared towards hockey, a competitive team sport, how do I progress as a lone wolf at the gym?

In the main, I compete with myself at the gym. I normally suck at math and avoid anything to do with numbers like the plague, but when it comes to working out, my competition is to better what I’ve done the week before, the month before or even the year before. What I also do – and this is going to make me sound like an utter dickwad – is to compete against other hockey players I know that use the gym.

I may not know the players personally, but I know them from having played against them or having watched them play. Now, I’m fully aware that different people work to different programs at different paces and I respect that. I have my areas of focus, where another player has their own. But, by and large, the exercises and lifts that we do are the same. The way I compete (and this is without even them knowing that I’m competing with them), is to check how much they are lifting and make sure that I lift more than they do. I want to make sure that the conditioning work that I’m doing is ahead of what they do, whether they play in the same league, a higher league or lower. For me this level of competition has allowed me to push myself further. If it is a player that I know plays in the same league as I do, it is about sending a message. A message that I will out work you in the gym and I will outwork you on the ice.

Also, there is some sort of glee and I guess a dick headed alpha-male attitude in knowing that you can do deadlifts for more reps with higher weight than a pro player.

But where I’ve perhaps had the competition/progress relationship wrong is in on ice training. Don’t get me wrong, whenever I am out there, I go hard till I have nothing left in the tank, but maybe I don’t pick similar competitions as I do in the gym when in training and perhaps that is what I should start seeking to do. Whether it is to outskate certain players in drills that focus on speed or start keeping score on who has scored more goals in training, me or another randomly selected player.

It’s all well and good to play to my strengths on the ice in trainings and keep bringing high energy and intensity, but what if I ‘competed’ with my team mates in the same sense that I do in the gym with other lifters. Perhaps, I should start looking to bring more of my gym mentality to the ice as well and see whether that works. The only thing that I worry about is whether or not my competitiveness and being a sore-loser will eat away at my overall progress. But I think it is worth a shot. To start pushing myself even more and to achieve some of the goals that I’ve set for myself.

It is also said that satisfaction is the death of progress and in many ways I live by this ethos. However, I think I need to add more to the mix to start making more on ice gains and to evolve myself as a player.

As the last line in ABR’s First step says:

Evolve, or die.


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In case you missed the Twitter and Instagram announcement, I have re-signed for the Bristol Pitbulls for the 2016-17 campaign and will also continue as an ambassador for Cross Check Clothing. The decision to re-sign with the Pitbulls was an easy one and it is still part of my grand plan that I told my coach when I first signed after successful try-outs seven years ago. I have set myself a goal to be more of an impact player for this season and really make a difference every time I’m on the ice. 

And for the partnership with Cross Check Clothing? I consider myself fortunate to be working with them. The guys are really humble and down to earth and live and breathe the game. The clothing that they are producing is appealing not only to players, but to fans alike. For me, I want to help expose the brand to more people and show that the apparel line belongs both in the changing room and in the stands. Plus it’s hella comfortable to wear and you may have seen on Instagram that I love wearing Cross Check gear to the gym too. I’m a huge believer in people that execute their vision and I really, truly want to help that brand grow. I don’t want to be the guy that just begs for sponsorship and then vanishes into thin air. Whatever influence I have, I want it to help Cross Check Clothing grow.

To say it has been a busy off-season would be a gross understatement. It has been manic and completely non-stop. reeniahororeeniaAs I said on the blog post about the season review, I had a difficult last season and it ended in disappointment, with not qualifying for the play-offs and being eliminated in the semi-finals of the Cup competition. That combined with the fact that I battled a rather persistent back problem for the whole season, made me question whether hockey was still on the cards for me.

The back problem wasn’t the only one that made me question whether I could rise to the challenge of another season. 2013-14 season I played through with a torn labrum and ruptured bicep tendon, which I was repaired in the off-season of 2014, 2014-15 season was amazing with winning the conference championship and play-off championship, but I battled with mental health issues that year, which knocked my confidence and I started the season not being able to play too well due to not having any strength and a limited range of motion in my right arm. 2015-2016 season was what it was due to the back.  Last season I played 17 games, out of which I was 100% for five games. That’s three seasons that have been more or less ruined by injuries and my hope is that I will stay healthy for a full season.

Last time I didn’t have any injuries or issues to deal with was 2011-2012 season, when, in light of stats, I had one of my most productive seasons offensively.

lisaareeniahoroFor those five games where I was completely pain free, I felt that I was playing probably the best hockey of my career and would’ve probably been able to do some good things for the team. But when you’re playing with an injury where you can’t feel parts of your left leg properly and every stride feels like you have broken your ankle, it’s difficult to perform.

However, after thinking about it for about a week after the Cup semi-final loss, I still have what it takes and I’m happy to be back playing for the team I’ve represented for the past six years and will be returning for for my seventh season. I realised early on that despite all the trials and tribulations I have undergone, I had the passion for the game and I was still willing to put in the work off the ice in-order to play.

One thing I was constantly asked by family and friends was, why put yourself through that again. Aren’t you afraid travelessentialsthat you’ll hurt yourself again. This is something that is really difficult to explain in words. The best I can do is to say that it is a fire inside me that tells me to keep pushing. I guess in every hockey players’ life there comes a time when the flame still burns but something tells you that it is time. For me the flame is there and at no point was the voice telling me that it’s time to call it quits strong enough. My life is incredibly busy, and I just could not imagine a life without hockey season in it.

I got back to work early on conditioning and have been working out to a program that has worked quite well the last two years. The only thing that I have changed in the regimen is the weight I’m lifting and I’ve added more explosive training to it. Without going into too many fitness nuances over it, I’ve also done a lot of HIIT workouts to really focus on anaerobic performance. Hockey is a game where you need to go flat out for 45 seconds max everytime you are out there. From all the conditioning work I’ve done, I’m more confident than ever. I’ve never felt this strong or good in myself (which also helps with the ongoing mental health issues), so the only thing left to do now is to get out on the ice.

hockeybase1One of the other areas of my game that I’ve worked on is shooting. Over the last few weeks I spent a lot of time at Hockey Base in Finland literally just working on my shots. As with fitness training, the more repetitions you do, the better you get, so I invested a grand total of €20 on a stick while I was out there and got shooting. The hardest shot with that cheap stick was clocked at 105km/h (65mph). I would go as far as to say that it would’ve been at the 80mph range if I had my TRUE stick. As a result of all the shooting work I did, I got blisters on both my hands which shows how much time I’ve dedicated to shooting. Ideally, I would like to dedicate more time to shooting and I have all the necessary equipment at home, but time is the issue.keppikasittelya

As I posted on Instagram in June, my wife and I welcomed our daughter and with my 3-year old son wanting more time with daddy, my time to work on shooting is limited at home. I mean I guess I could do it once the kids have gone to bed, but I would hazard a guess, that I would be rather un-popular with our neighbours.

The other thing I’ve worked on at the summer has been stickhandling. This is an area that I will continue to work on throughout the season. I’ve got hands as soft as concrete, so I’m no Connor McDavid but as with everything, by practicing it will get better.

I am determined and confident going into the season. My main goal is to help the team succeed and win games. What I want is to win a championship again. While I have battled injuries and found the flame to carry on playing, I am no spring chicken anymore and would like to add another title onto the mantel piece.


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When TRUE Hockey unveiled its Z-Palm glove, it set the hockey world ablaze on social media. People were intrigued and amazed at the design of the glove and were at awe to the potential solution to the age old problem with hockey gloves: The worn out palms.

TRUE Z-Palm gloves feature a unique design element in that you can replace the palm of the glove with relative ease. At a recent hockey convention the fastest time recorded was 25 seconds for a change of palm. So it all sounds good as an idea and in principle, but does it actually work, or does the zip included in the glove make it uncomfortable to wear? Are there any flaws in the glove? Is it really a stroke of genius or a flash in the pan product?

We have been testing the TRUE  6.0SBP Z-Palm gloves for a few months now to find out what the gloves are about and to find out if TRUE has managed to solve the problem that plagues many hockey players across the globe.

Imagine the scene, you have broken in your gloves and they are comfortable as anything on your hands. Then through wear and tear, the palm develops a hole. You might get it re-palmed or covered up, which can sometimes make the overall feel of the glove awkward, or you ignore it and let the hole grow until you fork out for a new pair. It’s a cycle that players go through regularly. Some do it after every season, some mid season and those that are lucky, will hold out until there is no palm left on their glove before they buy new ones.

The benchmark glove we’re testing these against is the Warrior AX1 gloves as this set of gloves, in our opinion is the best in the market in terms of the 4-roll look and feel.  The current CCM 4-roll gloves provide a good feel and a good level of protection, but the Warrior AX1 is the better all-round fit at the moment and we are benchmarking the TRUE 6.0 SBP Pro Z-Palm glove against the Warrior AX1.

Out of the box

Out of the box the TRUE A6.0 Z-Palm gloves feel comfortable when you first put them on. The materials within the

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glove are breathable and feel comfortable against your skin. The gloves, similar to the Warrior ones, have an almost ready-broken in feel. The TRUE gloves feel like you could walk away from the store and jump straight into a game.

The gloves we tried came with the standard Z-palm palms. The palm felt a little bit thicker and almost heavier than on some of the other gloves. However, on the flipside, the standard Z-palms do provide you with good levels of grip and the materials used in the palms are of high quality. The first impression was, however, that the material might not be as breathable as on the AX1 gloves.

Otherwise, the design of the gloves is minimalistic, but when you look at it and feel the materials, you are confident that you are holding a premium product.

Comfort and Fit:

As mentioned the, materials used in the Z-Palm gloves give you a comfortable feel. The outer shell of the glove comprises of 24mm pro-grade EPP foam and 1mm PE Inserts, which gives you additional protection as most gloves on the market use 20mm size padding in their gloves.

The inner liner of the glove feels comfortable to the hand and is right up there with all the ‘big-boys’. The gloves provide high levels of comfort without sacrificing protection or adding weight. In terms of fit, we have been testing the 13” glove and it fits perfectly well. The only real niggle we’ve come across with them in comparison to your ‘standard’  gloves is that the inner padding and liner can move around when changing the palms, which will lead to some fiddling. It’s not a major flaw by any stretch of the imagination.

What is quite different in comparison to other gloves is the range of movement you get from the thumb. We would argue that the thumb area is more flexible than in others, and certainly we felt that we got a better grip on the stick than compared to other makes of gloves.

Protection:

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Gloves are used to protect. That is their main job and in game and training situations, the TRUE gloves perform as you would expect. As mentioned above, the thumb area of the glove is quite flexible. To combat hyperextension injuries that are often result of a fall, TRUE has integrated a protection mechanism, the Trueflex thumb. It is fairly standard in all makes of gloves, but on the TRUE gloves the hyperextension protection is longer and sturdier. For example in the Warrior AX1 and Sher-Wood gloves, you can hyper extend the thumb before you notice that there is anything stopping the motion. With the Trueflex you feel the protection is there and you will be hard pressed to hyperextend the thumb. However, it is important to note that in any piece of equipment features such as these don’t guarantee that they are sure to eliminate injuries, but should significantly reduce the risk.

In fact, the beauty of the Trueflex thumb is in the flexibility of the thumb. You are able to get a far better grip on the stick straight away when you start using the gloves thanks to being able to close your hand into a near-perfect fist in the glove. On other gloves, the thumb is often quite rigid and even on the Warrior gloves which allow for some thumb movement, it doesn’t come close to the TRUE gloves in terms of the grip you are able to get on the stick. This is by far superior when compared to the latest offerings from CCM, Warrior and Bauer.

In terms of the other protective elements, the gloves provide protection on par with top manufacturers in the segment. Thanks to the additional 4mm of padding in the TRUE gloves, you are better off. The protection around the wrist is good, as well as the padding around the fingers. TRUE has achieved a great level of protection whilst not sacrificing comfort of the glove.

Owning:

What we think make the TRUE Z-Palm gloves worth owning is the fact that you can customise your gloves with different palms. You can get the 4-roll look and feel whilst being able to enjoy palm materials usually reserved for anatomically designed gloves.

If you want long life out of your protective equipment, you do need to look after it. One thing that we did notice on few of the palms, mainly in the Pro and grip versions of the palm it can take a while for them to dry out. If you have back to back games, you might come to find that the palm area is still a little damp from the night before.

Having discussed this with TRUE, it is recommended that you partially unzip the palm to allow more air flow through the glove. We have since tried this trick and have noticed that it does indeed speed up the drying process of the glove.

Fitting the palm

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The burning question then: how easy is it to replace the palm? Well, we haven’t gotten anywhere near the record time that was set at the exhibition, but it is safe to say that you can do a pair of gloves in between periods if needs be and you’ll have time to listen to instructions from the coaches as well.

Removing a palm is easy and effortless. Here TRUE has done a good job with the design of the glove as the entire palm side of the glove opens up, which helps immensely with the changing process and the zips do not interfere with comfort of the glove.

However, attaching a new palm is something that takes a bit of getting used to. The first few times of putting on a new palm were a little bit of troublesome, but as with everything practice makes perfect. The challenge we’ve faced is in the fitting of a new palm. Once you get to the middle finger, you need to ensure that you keep the zip as straight as possible as there is a tendency of it getting stuck.

What might be an overlooked design element here is that the zip is positioned quite cleverly so that it should not be easily damaged during the game. The only way we see that the Z-palm design could be compromised is by someone stepping/skating on/over your glove from the palm side and by that stage, you’ll have other things on your mind as opposed to a zip.

Overall, the changing process is easy enough, even if putting on a new palm is the more difficult one of the changing process.

Conclusion:

In the past we have called TRUE Hockey as a new-comer to the hockey market, but in the space of few short years, the company has established itself with innovative products in both sticks and now protective equipment in gloves.

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The Z-Palm gloves is something that other manufacturers and players will be looking at with envy. The design looks great, they gloves feel great, but the real beauty of the TRUE A6.0 SBP Pro gloves is the Z-Palm innovation. By buying a pair of gloves, you are essentially buying five pairs. You have greater level of customisation opportunities to you and you can try new styles of palms without it costing you a new pair of gloves. The Z-Palm gives you longevity for the gloves as you don’t need to replace the gloves, but rather just the palm. If you are looking for gloves that provide you with good levels of protection, mobility the TRUE gloves should be on your shopping list. What will tip it in TRUE’s favour over any other manufacturer is the Z-Palms. Like said, by buying a set of TRUE gloves, you are essentially buying five pairs of gloves at once, all thanks to the customisation options the Z-Palm affords you.

In comparison to the Warrior AX1 gloves, the TRUE A6.0 SBP Pro Z-Palm gloves stack up equally well. The TRUE glove could end up costing you a bit less (depending on retailer) and you get a bit more for your money thanks to the Z-Palms. In terms of fit and comfort, the gloves are pretty much equal, though we have found the TRUE glove is slightly more breathable in games and training. Both gloves use odour eliminating technologies as well, with TRUE opting for Microban technology, while Warrior uses Polygenie, and to be fair, you would not be able to tell the difference. It is a close call when comparing the gloves like for like, but thanks to the price and the Z-Palm we would recommend the TRUE A6.0 SBP Pro Z-Palms. You get a premium, top-end pro product at a good price point and thanks to the replaceable palms, you get more for you money.

15 Seconds…

Posted: May 30, 2016 in Uncategorized

Walking up those familiar stairs again. I’ve lost count on how many times I’ve climbed up them. 22 in total. Accompanied by thumping sounds that emanates from the top floor, again familiar. Maybe I should be afraid of what lies in waiting, but oddly, it is part of the reason why I climb up these stairs. Time after time again.

 

This is where the hockey season is built. In one and a half hour slots, each one spent getting ready for something that is months away. Much like life in hockey in general, life is condensed into an everlasting continuum of routine and repetition.

 

The familiar grip of cold iron on the calloused hands. Tuning into breathing and the up/down movement. Every repetition is slightly painful, but that is the purpose. It is a sign that you are pushing. Pushing to get better, stronger, faster.

 

In between are 15 second splits where you are allowed to rest.

 

Yks, kaks, kolme, nelja…. As I count closer to 15 my counting turns from Finnish to English, as if to prepare me for the next series. Up, down, up, down, breathe in, breathe out. Tune into the breathing and use it to your advantage. Come one, just one more. You’ve got this. You tell yourself as the burn is getting more and more intense. And THUMP.  Another 15 seconds of rest.

 

This could be classed as insanity and some might say my time could be better spent, but it is more than just training for a season. It is a release. A release that is a series of up to one and a half minutes of work and 15 seconds of rest. All together it takes an hour or hour and a half of my day. A fraction.

 

Tuning into the sound of the music that I’ve picked… “no that’s not heavy enough. I need something that’s aggressive”.. Quickly switching to something heavier before gripping the bar. Again. Lifting the weight off the ground, making sure your form is good by subconsciously telling yourself “back straight, head up, lift from the legs”.

 

By the time the hour and a half assault on your muscles is complete, you are ready to walk down those same, familiar stairs. 22 in total. The sound of the thumps is getting more and more distant. You feel a bit broken. Your muscles are sore. There’s sweat dripping from every part of your body. You feel like you have conquered something and feel ready to do it all again  the next day.
Somehow as you get into your car, you begin to count… yks, kaks, kolme nelja.. A life broken into series, sets and 15 seconds. All to better yourself on the ice.

2015-2016 Season Review

Posted: April 17, 2016 in Uncategorized

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Another season has come to a close. In what seemed like a season that was going to be a good one from a personal point of view turned into everything but.

I had a great summer of getting into shape and I had no injuries to contend with. My shoulder I had operated the summer before had healed up and allowed me to train harder than I had done in years. At the gym, I set many a personal best over the summer, I increased my explosiveness and I found a whole new attitude for the game.

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I started the season with confidence I had not had in years. I felt confident with every shift I was on the ice and I saw immediate results with points starting to pile up steadily. I wasn’t a point-per-game type of player, but I was contributing offensively and it was noticeable on the score sheet. I thought things were going to go up a notch when I scored my first goal in over a year in early November. This was then followed up by another good performance on the Isle of Wight in November… and then everything went horribly wrong…

To be honest, I should’ve noticed the signs in October already as before our game against the Basingstoke Buffalo in Basingstoke, I woke up barely able to walk. I got myself ready to play and had a terrible game but then after a few treatments with the Osteopath and my masseuse, I felt fine. Then 15th of November came along. I had an appointment with my osteopath and they had to send me to the hospital because they were not able to touch me without me being in searing pain.

I was sidelined until January – with what turned out to be – a prolapsed disc. I was useless on the ice. All my jump had gone, I was hesitant to go into corners and as a result my game play suffered. I tried my best to play through the pain but it wasn’t easy. Sometimes it hurt to bend down to do my skates up and a few times I had to ask my teammate to do it for me. Somehow I found the way to be successful and effective in the face-off dot though. But when you want to play, you will find a way to do it. No matter what.

My back problem ate away all my confidence. It wasn’t until February that I received an injection into my spine that

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First game back after the spinal injections. I was pain free and felt awesome

alleviated the pain and allowed me to recover, but even after I was pain free following the injection, I had to sit out a week to let it take hold. In the end I managed 5 games pain free, but severely out of shape due to not being able to train properly since November. It wasn’t until the last few training sessions of the season that I started to feel that I was getting back to it.

The back issue was not the only injury that I had to contend with. I fractured my thumb, I pulled my ligaments in my elbow, I had a severely bruised shoulder (the same I had operated a few years ago) that doctors were umming and arring whether I had separated it and to cap it off, I sustained a knee contusion in our last game (or if you want to call me a pussy, I bruised my leg).

I wrote earlier that this season the thought crept into my head of whether I had what it takes to keep coming back from injury and come back stronger. This season was mentally challenging because the pain was constant and it for the first time, the pain felt unbearable and that it was grinding me down. As a hockey player, you get used to living in pain, but this was something completely different. I didn’t sleep well because every movement sent shooting pain down my legs and back. I was on so many painkillers that it was not even funny. At its height in December, I was on 2x 30/500mg Co-codamol tablets 4x day, 2x 30mg Tramadol 4x day, 1x 600mg Naproxen 2x day, 1x Diazepam 1x day, 4x amitriptyline  per night. I’m surprised I was able to function or answer people, though I think that in the main, I was a dribbling mess. Even more so than normal.

So what started as a campaign of high hopes and personal achievement turned out to be THE toughest season I’ve had to endure. Because of all of that, this – for me – is a season I would rather forget. I wanted to prove that I could produce and be effective and until November I felt like I was. For the rest of the season I was merely a shadow of what I had potential for. Which made it all the more frustrating.

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First game back in January. In severe pain, but anything for the logo on the front of the shirt

The support – and concern – of the fans was overwhelming. I think many thought I was a total idiot for suiting up in January. There’s a picture of me in my first game back in warm-up and I think the look on my face is “This was a very f**king bad idea”. You can tell I am uncomfortable. But anything for the logo on the front. ANYTHING.

My sponsor, Cross Check Clothing was amazing throughout the season and I’m honoured to have worked with them this season. I hope that there is scope for more collaboration. I believe in the brand and that it is truly something that is for the players and the fans of the game and beyond. I had always wanted to team up with a company that I believed in and I really wanted to help the guys to get exposed to a wider audience and I hope that it has worked. Speaking of the Cross Check Clothing guys; they’ve just released a new summer line, so you should check it out here

So what now? Well, I’ve started to build on the fitness level I had built towards the end of the year as I’ve started my off-season training.  I dug out a program that was designed for me a few years ago and I remember it being effective. I just forgot that it is a rather brutal one, but hopefully the results will speak for themselves in 2016-2017 season. That last statement should tell you that I am looking to play on and prove that season on what I had hoped to do this season. 

Milestones

Posted: April 14, 2016 in Uncategorized

I’ll be approaching a couple of milestones on the quest to better myself as a person, the final one that I’ll detail is the most important one, which is hell to deal with,  but perhaps taught me more about myself than anything else. So here goes…

Beard:

I’ve not shaved for a year… woo… 

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TV:

This is only a minor milestone, but we – as the Virtanen household – are approaching five months without TV…. As in free-view or cable. We still have a TV. Our means of watching ‘televised’ entertainment is all through on-demand services like Amazon Prime, Netflix, NHL.TV and YouTube. Personally, I feel somewhat liberated by this whole experience. Previously, I felt somewhat chained and like programming was somehow binding us to watching certain things at certain times. Yes, you can record and watch things on-demand through likes of Sky, but it didn’t feel natural anymore.

From a monetary point of view, it made no sense paying over the odds for Sky, when the content offered by on-demand services is better, I don’t have to wait till a certain date to watch a show and I was paying way too much to watch a handful of shows that were littered with adverts. My view is that if I’ve paid for a subscription to something, I should not be watching adverts.

The effect this has had on life in general? I’m going to bed earlier, I’m no longer watching a TV show for the sake of just watching something and we are interacting more as a family as opposed to having the idiot box on. The times when the idiot box is on, it usually has a kids’ TV show on. Main use for the TV now is to watch sports… again as and when I feel like it and DVDs.

Worried about missing shows? Nah.. At the end of the day, they are TV shows and they only last a fleeting moment without giving us much satisfaction. That hour or two that was wasted can now be spent better with family.

Energy drink free:

In May, I will hit a milestone of a year without energy drinks. I used to have the worst habit on the planet when it came to these pieces of shit, usually going through 3-4 500ml cans per day. You don’t need to be a scientist to realise how bad that is for your health. Despite energy drinks saying that they’ll give you wings and make you wreck your pants because they make you awesome, I find that without them, I am actually more energetic than I used to be. Even with athletic performance has improved without the use of energy drinks as opposed to before when I thought that I’d need a can of Red Bull to get through a workout.

At the peak of the habit I was having really bad problems with my stomach and I would have the most painful shits ever. I don’t know what chemical in the drinks caused this but since stopping it has gotten a lot better.

What surprises me is that there is no health warning on these drinks and that they are not age restricted. It sickens me when I see kids buy multiple cans of this junk and drink it like it’s water. The sugar content is so high and all the other additives in them make them one of – I think – key contributors to childhood obesity. Down a few cans of this crap while you’re sat playing Call of Duty and hey presto, you’ll soon see your weight sky rocket.

I didn’t wean myself off of the drinks but stopped cold turkey. The first few days and weeks were hell with a constant headache and feeling really fatigued. I felt that I couldn’t last a day without one, but if you just stick with it and persevere that motherfucker of a headache you’ll be good. It wasn’t easy by any stretch of imagination, but being stubborn and having set my mind to it that this will be the end of it, I stuck to it.

This was the first part of my overall plan to cut out (refined) sugar in its entirety from my diet. I am making more and more of a conscious effort to cut it out, but there are still times that I fall for a fizzy drink like a can of coke (which is almost as bad as a can of energy drink). But I can’t remember the last time I would’ve bought a six pack of coke for home. If it’s not there, there’s no temptation to drink it.

Depression:

It is roundabout a year now that I published a post about my battle with depression. A year on from that post and I’m happy to say that I am doing better. I’m not perfect and I doubt that I’ll never be fully stable, but I am now better equipped to deal with my moods. I have a strong support network in place and I know that on a day-to-day basis, I need a release of some kind. Without a release, which is usually weight lifting, I will have a bad day and I will revert to an angry, negative wolf.

Life has its stresses and I’m not denying that there wouldn’t be things that get me down. On the flipside of it all, I’m no longer a nervous wreck and have a panic attack when the mail comes through the post box. You see, a year ago, I would literally freak out the minute I heard the mail hit the floor. Whether it was bills or anything it felt daunting to go out and open it. I would use the back door to leave the house so I could avoid looking at the mail rather than go out the front. The human mind is a complex thing and I don’t know which wires in my brain are crossed that cause me to go through periods such as these.

What it has taught me, however, is perseverance and mental toughness. I try to take lessons from everything in life and those are probably the two that I will take from the experience. I hit rock bottom last year to the point that I came close to doing something irreversible, but some part of me wanted to hang on. I’m not lying when I say that the urge to let go was powerful.

When I look back, I am fortunate with what I have and what I am able to do. There are people out there that are worse off and the only bit of anxiety and frustration that I have I can’t do much to help and make a difference.

So there, those are just a few milestones that I have coming up or that I’m “celebrating”. I guess you could say that over the past year I’ve been on a journey of self discovery of sorts. It’s been tough, but worth every second. Even the ones when letting go seemed like the only way out.