I realize it’s been a while since my last blog. Lots to catch up on. The death of a close family member and a tough travel schedule have put blogging in the back seat during the last couple weeks. With that being said, Here is the latest and greatest.
The First Start
After a month of not seeing the ice and debating changing my social media handles from “NetminderJim” to “BenchminderJim”, I started my first game this past weekend against the Mississippi Riverkings. I was ecstatic to get back in a real game for the first time in 8 months.
Our team started off great, going up 2-0 after the first period. I felt sharp and in control. In the second period, we slowed down a bit. Mississippi came back and tied the score. I still felt great and made a couple huge saves despite allowing 2 goals. The third period was pretty much chaos, with constant breakdowns on both sides. The score ended up being 6-4 for Mississippi with an empty netter. I was particularly frustrated with this result because I let in a bad goal with the score tied in the third period. For any goalies reading, it was a short side jam-in play that snuck between my arm and the post while in the Reverse VH position. There was no excuse for that goal, and I felt I let my team down. The frustrating part is that I actually felt good out there for most of the game. I was in control, seeing the puck well, making big saves, controlling rebounds, battling. But that one bad goal and another couple from the point through traffic that I felt I could have stopped turned what should have been a good outing into a frustrating loss. As a goalie, any time you give up 5 goals, you have to take a look in the mirror, no matter how you felt during the game. I have to be better, plain and simple. Time on the ice is earned, and I’ll need to make a couple more saves when I get my next chance if I expect to stick around.
On the bright side, after playing my first game in this league, I know it’s a place where I can have success. If I can clean up a couple things this week in practice and execute a little better, I should definitely be able to be a great goalie in this league. The challenge so far has been keeping myself mentally confident and sharp despite not playing much. I know I can play at this level, in addition to higher levels of professional hockey, and I try to remember that every time I hit the ice. Habits, habits, habits…
Living in Fayetteville, NC
Fayetteville is located about an hour south of the capital city of Raleigh, NC. It is also home to Fort Bragg, the largest military base in the world (in terms of population). Basically, it’s a military town. Tons of military personnel and contractors live in the area. It has its advantages and disadvantages, but overall it’s been a good experience so far.
- The weather is very nice. Warm, dry, and just starting to get a little cooler. Very comfortable.
- Our apartments are nice! I live in a 3BR/2BA unit. It’s furnished, with a large kitchen and living room area, high speed Internet, and cable. All of it paid for by the team.
- I have 2 great roommates. Both are from Michigan and played hockey at Wisconsin-Stevens Point.
- I found a craft brewery, Dirtbag Ales, just a couple of miles from our apartment. They have a few great brews and their Mocha Cold-Press Porter is A+ stuff.
- We get a membership to a fairly nice gym, which also has a steam room, sauna and whirlpool. In addition, a local Crossfit gym puts us through team workouts once a week, which are extremely tough, but I love them.
- People here seem to be friendly, and are fans of the team. Several individuals around town have stopped and chatted me up about the team and our games. There seem to be some loyal fans around town.
- It’s a rough town. We are talking in the 95th percentile for violent crime, with 20% of the population living below the poverty line. Lots of rundown strip malls and fast food joints lining the streets. Luckily, we live a few miles outside of the city in a suburb called Hope Mills, and things are a little calmer and safer there.
- Hurricane Matthew did some serious damage here. A month later, roads and bridges are still being rebuilt, and detours/traffic are a part of the daily routine here for the foreseeable future.
- Everything in the area is spread out. It seems like it takes at least 25 minutes to get basically anywhere whether it’s our apartments, our rink, the gym, or local restaurants/grocery stores.
- There isn’t a ton to do around town, at least at first glance. Other than your standard movie theater and sports bars, I haven’t found a whole lot of interesting stuff to do. It’s far enough away from the beach to make it inconvenient for a day trip, and there isn’t much in the way of hiking or natural outdoor attractions/activities either, which is disappointing. May have to start looking into some potential Sunday day-trip destinations in the area, or talk to people who live here to find some hidden gems.
Other Random Musings
- It’s tough to feel safe. Our contracts are essentially week-to-week, meaning we can be cut at any time. Only a month into the season, we have had probably 20 guys show up at various points that aren’t here anymore. We carry 18 players on our roster. If you don’t perform, they will find someone else. Period. This threat looms especially large after losing a few games in a row.
- The 2016 Presidential Election- A global disaster, really. We will all remember where we were/what we were doing when Trump won this election. That’s not to say I support Hillary either. Just an absolute embarrassment all the way around. The candidates, the media, all of it. We can do better.
- Ezekiel Elliott will be a first ballot Hall of Famer.
- Right now my equipment setup includes red, white, and blue pads, green pants, a purple practice jersey, and a green helmet. Absolute comedy. My goalie gear style points have severely diminished since my Dartmouth days.
Heard Around the Rink
“Don’t fart in the training room. Have some respect. Fart in (the locker room), fart on the ice, not in the training room. Show some respect.”
“Your hips are shit, you know that?” (Chiropractor talking to yours truly)
Beer of the Week
For those of you that know me, you know I have a passion for craft beer. I’ve decided to review a new beer every week, and look forward to tasting some new ones.
Stingray Imperial IPA (Coronado Brewing Co. – Coronado, California)
Picked up a sixer of these last week at the recommendation of the owner of a small craft beer/wine shop near our apartments. Very easy drinking DIPA. Extremely citrus forward with enough bitter hoppiness for balance. The 7.9% ABV is hidden extremely well. One of the best I’ve had in a while. Still doesn’t touch my all-time favorite DIPA though (Surly Abrasive Ale- if any readers are willing to ship some down to me from MN, please let me know!)
Movie of the Week
Again, for those of you that know me well, I love watching movies and discussing them with my family/friends. Having so much free time lately, I’ve been watching a lot of movies. I figured I’d pick one per week to recommend to everyone.
Before the Flood
Leonardo DiCaprio investigates climate change. An extremely well done documentary, it captures the urgency and incredible scope of the problem, as well as the absurdity of the global politics that make it such a hard issue to tackle. Definitely worth viewing. Leo is watchable and genuine, and the detail of the evidence is fascinating. Definitely a relevant film, especially considering our next president denies climate change is a real thing. My roommates and I all enjoyed this a lot. The environmentalist in me was definitely inspired, and I felt compelled to pass it along.
Finally, just wanted to pay a quick tribute to my Grandpa Bruce. One of the greatest men I’ve ever known. I learned a lot about being a better person and a better man from you. Wishing like hell you could’ve seen my first game as a pro. You’ll never be forgotten.