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Hockey in the desert

August 21st, 2011

Sometimes, I’m the best goalie on the ice.  Other times, I’m the worst goalie on the ice.  Then there are the times when I’m the only goalie on the ice.  Such was the case in New Mexico.  I’m just happy I found somewhere to play, period.

It’s been quite a logistical challenge to find places to play hockey during this trip.  Not all cities have indoor arenas, not all indoor arenas have ice in the summer, and not all indoor arenas that have summer ice have schedules that coincide with my schedule.   New Mexico was no exception.

Up until a few days before my arrival in New Mexico, it appeared that I might have nowhere to play.  There were only two arenas in the Albuquerque area, and neither of them appeared to have hockey scheduled for the times I would be around.  The most promising line item on one of the arena’s web-based schedules was an hour for “Hockey Clinic.”  I figured, “Hmm, maybe I can get in on that.”

I called the arena, Blades Multiplex in Rio Rancho, NM, and spoke with a couple of people about the hockey clinic.  At first, they didn’t know what I was talking about, but after a little while we determined that the internal schedule at the rink differed from the one posted on the web site.  There was no hockey clinic; instead, that block of ice time was allocated to a stick-and-puck.  (A stick-and-puck is an open-ice unstructured practice session, not a game.)  Perfect!

If you’ve been following my journey for a while, you might have noticed a strange inconsistency: hockey is at the core of the trek, but I’ve posted exactly zero photos of me actually playing hockey.  The closest I’ve come to posting a legitimate hockey photo was the Eh Team group snapshot when I subbed in Saskatoon.

I’m happy to report that this major deficiency has been improved thanks to Tyler’s dad Greg, who kindly offered to photograph my New Mexico hockey experience.

Making a save, in spite of some technical deficiencies

Larry takes a shot on me

Steve takes a shot on me

Josh takes a shot on me

Unfortunately, there wasn’t all that much to shoot.  Whether due to the session start time (during rush hour), the misleading line item on the web schedule (“hockey clinic” instead of “stick-and-puck”), or the general lack of participation in hockey in the desert southwest, turnout was low at the rink.  I was the only goalie.  There were two skaters for a while, Josh and Steve, and a third, Larry, showed up part-way through the session.

Even with the low headcount, I had a good time.  Better yet, the photos revealed a number of areas in which I could improve my technique.  They also showed some old bad habits that had started to reemerge, so now I’m aware that I have to be more careful lest I get sloppy.  A good experience all around.

  1. Greg Hicks
    August 22nd, 2011 at 01:30 | #1

    I’d like to tell the lie that Keacher DEMANDED photos of his Goalie-tude, but the truth is I DEMANDED that he let me come along to take pictures! It was cool in both senses of the word and I enjoyed pressing Keacher’s rapid fire shutter hoping to capture the heroic saves, of which there were quite a few. Even a “stick and puck” can be great fun and it was great to see Keacher make connections with people he would never have met if he was not on this great adventure. We all need to help him get to Hawaii so he can be the only person in the world who has played hockey in all states, provinces, and territories in the US and Canada. Did someone say, “Guinness World Book of Records”?

  2. Jeff
    August 22nd, 2011 at 16:38 | #2

    @Greg Hicks Haha, yeah, I was trying to set expectations really low for the stick-and-puck, but you insisted on coming anyway. Thanks!

    The more I think about it, the more I believe that I really should go to Hawaii. It seems like the trip would be somehow incomplete if I stop one state short of 50.

  3. Greg Hicks
    August 23rd, 2011 at 00:11 | #3

    I agree, so 50 it is! And there are worst places than Hawaii. I heard you got sunburned at the Rockies game, but what a game!

  4. Jeff
    August 23rd, 2011 at 22:12 | #4

    @Greg Hicks True, I got a very light burn, but poor Dave, he was red as an apple!

  5. Greg Hicks
    August 23rd, 2011 at 23:05 | #5

    Didn’t anybody tell you Dave’s Albino!

  6. August 25th, 2011 at 02:23 | #6

    Hey, I offered to take pics, but you didn’t play hockey here. ;p

    I guess blurry jaguar will have to do.

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