Pick up hockey is a little different than the division B league play that I’m growing accustom to. There are no refs. No whistles. No face offs. No set line rotations. Just a seamless stream of hockey in the hour of ice time you and your ice mates purchase. It’s fast paced. Which is a euphemism for tiring. This past Thursday evening was my first time playing pick up as an adult. The over 30 team I joined this year had a week off in our schedule and I was invited to play. I hear they usually keep a time clock so you know what period you’re in and how much time remains. Not this time. Which I say adds to the mystique. They might consider making it part of their shtick.
It was probably sometime in the third period when my best chance to score was handed to me. I had gotten the puck on my stick in front of the net several times but couldn’t get solid shots. Then one of their defensemen made a mistake. The puck was in our zone and we were trying to clear it along the boards. This defensemen on my wing was at the boards to greet the puck. I was closing in on him when it happened. He duffed it. The puck easily slid past toward center ice. There was no one behind him. All I needed to do was win the race to the puck and I’d have a breakaway. But that didn’t happen. There was no breakaway because there was no race. The defensemen, in self defeat, gave up on the play. He threw his hands up, sort of, and grumbled something self-deprecating. I still went after the puck but I didn’t feel like racing to the net. It felt wrong to me. So I carried the puck in their zone and made a bad pass to a teammate and the play fell apart from there. It was super anticlimactic.
I’ve since second guessed this decision but in the moment it felt too easy. Not that it’s a guarantee that I would have scored. I mostly don’t. It just didn’t seem all that desirable once I knew the other guy had given up.
I want to earn my goals.
Even if it means I get less of them.