4 games in 5 days

Posted in Uncategorized on November 30, 2009 by inthecreasewiththiess

One of the drawbacks of playing in the minor leagues is the schedule which, unlike the schedule in the NHL, tries to fit in as many games in on the weekend.  That results in a few 3 games in 3 days sprinkled in throughout the schedule, throw in a game on Wednesday and you got yourselves 4 games in 5 days.  In the past 3 years in college we had 2 instances in which we had 3 games in 3 days, both playoff series.  The difference between those 3 games in 3 days was that all 3 games were in one location, no travel involved.  Here is a little itinerary of the past 5 days for us.  We start off by playing at home on Wednesday night, the next day, thanksgiving we practice in the morning, head to Pastor Dick’s church where we were treated to a wonderful thanksgiving meal and get on the bus heading to Rochester.  After that 4 hour trip we get in the hotel, get up on friday, practice, play Rochester at night, get back on the bus and get into our beds back in Wilkes Barre around 2:30 a.m.  We play at home saturday night, then sunday we get back on the bus headed to Hershey to finish off the weekend.  It doesn’t make it easier when the games don’t go as well as we hoped.  The number of movies watched during a season on the bus probably stretches into the hundreds.  The rookies are in charge of bringing the movies for every trip, and it’s not easy to make everyone happy.  A good bus movie usually is something that makes everyone laugh, or a good action movie.  Movies that you have to pay attention and get into usually don’t cut it on the bus.

To respond to a few of the comments, Matt I know I hated the Terriers as well when I played at NU but now that I have a couple of them on my team, it’s fun to talk hockey east hockey and reminisce about those days, as well as keep up on how our teams are doing.  Also it has been good to play with John Curry because he kind of has gone about things the way I am starting.  He played college, came to Wilkes Barre and is now excelling so I can learn from what he has gone through. 

And also wanted to say thanks to Kenny and Steven for the comment!  Hope you guys are doing well, always had fun working with you guys in Penticton.

back to try it again

Posted in Uncategorized on November 24, 2009 by inthecreasewiththiess

All right so it has been just over 2 months since I have put in an entry on the ol blog and it’s about time to start it up again.  With it being my first year being a pro, going through my first NHL training camp and playing in the American Hockey League here in Wilkes Barre a lot has taken place.  I have admittedly done a terrible job of keeping up on my writing here, which I had said I would keep up.  So I am back to try it again and be a little more diligent at putting in posts on a consistent basis.  

It definitely has been a learning experience going from playing college hockey to playing professionally.  The rigors of college hockey, getting up and going to class, heading to the rink to practice, then heading home to catch up on homework or head to study hall are no longer present.  Now we get up, head to practice, then figure out which movie to go to or video game to watch.  Okay it’s not really like that all the time but there is definitely a lot more down time playing pro hockey.  It’s not college or junior hockey now though, this is our job and we have to make wise decisions and give ourselves the best possible chance to succeed on the ice, which was also the case at other levels but now this is it, no class, no homework.  It’s an adjustment trying to find the balance to everything.  Riding the bus also occupy’s a lot of time as it is no longer the luxury of playing in Hockey East and the looong 2 hour bus ride to UMass now seems like a dream.  

I’m looking forward to talking more about what goes on during our bus trips around the eastern seaboard, what different things we do as a team to keep things light during an 80 game season, and what it is like to play in the American Hockey League compared to college. 

Before I end this post I’d also like to mention that I have had a number of NU Husky fans come up to me at a few of our games close to boston and talk to me about how the team is doing and what not.  Always enjoy seeing fans of the Huskies and I always make sure I check the box scores to see how the team is doing.  We have a friendly rivalry on our team going between the 2 huskies, myself and Joey Vitale and the hated Terriers Brian Strait, John Curry and assistant coach John Hynes, and right now Joey and I have had the upper hand, hopefully that continues!

Day off in the burgh

Posted in Uncategorized on September 19, 2009 by inthecreasewiththiess

Hello everyone from sunny Pittsburgh on a welcomed day off for us after a pretty tough first week of training camp.  Hard to believe it was only 2 weeks ago that we were on a bus to Kitchener to start the rookie tournament, feels like a month ago.  It’s hard to keep track of the days and dates right now, you go day by day by the schedule for your group, skate, workout, eat, sleep and do it all again.  We had a meeting this morning to go over some special teams work and then were free to do what we want, for me that means catching up on some laundry that has been piling up over a few weeks, tough to live out of a suitcase!

Over the past few days we made a trip to Wilkes Barre for the black and gold game which was a lot of fun.  The fans in Wilkes Barre were ecstatic to see their favorite Penguins and it made for a great atmosphere.  I had never played in Wachovia Arena, just practiced their last year.  The rink has a lot of character as the fans really seem like they are right on top of you, not too much different from playing at Matthews Arena the past 3 years.  Speaking of which I have heard nothing but rave reviews for the renovations that have taken place there.  Talking to some of the players as well as coaches they are excited for the new facilities that they have to work with and good for them they deserve it.  Practice day for us here tomorrow before relocating to the practice rink for next week as the G20 summit invades downtown Pittsburgh.

First game with the Penguins

Posted in Uncategorized on September 16, 2009 by inthecreasewiththiess

Last night was a first for me as I got into my first NHL action for the third period and overtime of our game against Columbus.  I was a little nervous, and it didn’t make it easier that I had to sit and watch for two periods waiting my chance to get in the net.  One note about that, in Mellon Arena the backup goalie doesn’t get to sit on the bench as their is no room so I had to sit by myself in the tunnel where we skate out onto the ice, a little different set up. 

It kind of hit me in warm-up that I was actually taking part in an NHL game, albeit not with everyone involved but still, it was the NHL.  Everyone looked a lot bigger than in college.  When it was time to go in I was a little nervous but thanks to Sid and co most of the period was spent in the other end.  Now I have that experience under my belt and can draw on that experience for the next time, whenever that may be.

Other than that camp has been going well we have been working hard practicing and working out, tomorrow night is the black and gold game in Wilkes Barre which should be fun, but for the rest of the day it’s rest on the agenda maybe see a movie later on with some of the guys.

day one in the books

Posted in Uncategorized on September 13, 2009 by inthecreasewiththiess

Well day one at training camp here in Pittsburgh is done.  We were split up into three groups for today and the following few days.  Today we watched some video on different systems that they run in Pittsburgh and hit the ice for a one hour practice with our respective groups.  All the teams were a mixture of both vets and rookies, I was paired up with Marc Andre Fleury on my team.  The first thing that struck me when we stepped on the ice was the amount of people that had come out for day one of training camp, probably close to 3 thousand fans had gathered at Mellon Arena.  Fleury drew a large cheer when he stepped on the ice, along with some “Fleury” chants.  It was exciting to be on the ice at Mellon and the hour long practice flew by.  It was followed by a quick workout and that was it for the day.  Tomorrow my group is scheduled to have a scrimmage and a practice so I’m looking forward to that.

first training camp underway

Posted in Uncategorized on September 11, 2009 by inthecreasewiththiess

Well my first professional training camp began this past week with the Penguins rookie camp.  I was a little nervous but also excited to be starting another hockey season.  We arrived in Pittsburgh last friday, had a meeting with coaching staff about the week ahead, then headed to bed getting some much needed rest for the week ahead.

Saturday started early with fitness testing which was difficult, definitely a reminder of why you put in all the hard work during the offseason.  We then boarded the bus to take part in the Kitchener Rookie Tournament hosted by Toronto and also attended by Boston and Ottawa.  The bus ride was 6 hours and gave us a chance to reconnect with a lot of the players that we were together with during the summer at the week long prospects camp.  The week consisted of 4 games, we had practices on the morning of the games and in between games 2 and 3 we had a day off from the games.  It was a little nerve wracking to finally play in my first game after being with the team for what seems like a long time and just practicing, so getting that first game under the belt was good, even though things didn’t go as well as I would have liked.  That set me up for a better game the next one against Toronto and the result was much better.  As a team we came on as the tournament progressed ending up winning our last 2 games.  It was a fun week to be playing hockey again but also to be on the road, being around the guys joking around and talking hockey.

So now we are back in Pittsburgh starting the main camp tomorrow.  Now that the season has started and we are going at it I’m going to update more regularly, hopefully a couple of times a week at least.

summer training

Posted in Uncategorized on August 17, 2009 by inthecreasewiththiess

Back again with another post, this time I thought I would share a little about what it’s like during the off-season for a hockey player.  This one has been a little different for me, namely, no working on the farm! (sorry dad) Yep my summer has been full of training and relaxing getting ready for my first season of pro hockey.

Being that I had the chance to tag along for the Pens run to the Cup my summer was a little shorter than most years, and I definitely would take the short summer every year if it meant a Stanley Cup was waiting for me in the middle of June.  Usually I take a good couple of weeks off doing nothing but relaxing and hanging out, but this year was different seeing as though there wasn’t much summer left to train.  So I had one week off and then it was back to the gym again.  I have worked with my trainer in the gym for 6 years now, Tyler Jackson.  He is a former junior hockey player in the BCHL and then went on to fight in mixed martial arts, and continues to do so every now and again.  He trains fighters, some baseball players as well as hockey players.  We get to blend in some of the aspects of mixed martial arts to our training like boxing which gives us a little cross on our regular training and is a great workout.  We train 5 days a week, monday through friday at 8 a.m.  I like to get up and out of bed and start off the day with a good workout, nothing feels better than a great workout at the beginning day and then you  the rest of the day in front of you.  The group I train with is a group of four, two junior a kids and one from the east coast hockey league.  We go monday, wednesday, friday in the gym hitting all the muscle groups and go through different phases during the summer like strength, power, and endurance.  Tuesdays and Thursdays we go to the track and work on speed, agility, and quickness. 

As for the on ice portion of my training I start that a few weeks after I start working out.  You have to make sure you have that itch to get back on the ice again or you run the risk of burning yourself out before the summer is even over.  I started off this summer just going out a couple times a week to a scrimmage with a bunch of pro and college players, and from their have gone to a more specific practice and some work with my goalie coaches.  I like to refine my game during the summer and have someone watching me telling me the little things they see helps out a lot.  Just getting a few main keys you can focus on when your game might be a little off can be the difference between you getting your game back in order or going into a prolonged slump. 

You have to leave some time for some fun in the summer too!  I have enjoyed hanging out with family and friends this summer as I don’t get to see many of them during the hockey season.  I also enjoy golfing and was able to do more of that then I have in the past and enjoyed that, even if I wasn’t able to see a whole lot of improvement in my game!  Still nothing beats a nice sunny day out on the golf course. 

Only 2 and a half weeks remain till the opening of rookie camp, that’s when all the hard work in the summer hopefully pays off and I am looking forward to getting started!