When I was a teenager, I spent countless hours in my driveway, whether on inline skates or on feet, shooting pucks and balls into an empty cage. Most of my time was spent on my slap shot, but there was one move I tried to an exhausted level.
I called it the Pavol Demitra.
Still one of my favorite players of all-time, the late & great Demitra had a patented move when he found himself on the breakaway. As a lefty, Demitra skated in, used a head fake then shifted to the backhand as he cruised through the slot. It was a move that always seemed to stun the goalie, as the Slovakian forward was one of the smoothest skaters and best at making his entire body look like he was lining up for the shot before pulling it back.
Here is one of the many times he fooled the goalie (apologies for the poor quality):
Yes, picture a 12-15 year-old doing this in his parents’ driveway every day. EVERY. DAY.
It resulted in many scrapes, bumps and tumbles, but it was all worth it. After endless attempts, I was able to perfect it … well, as well as a kid can in outdoor skates with a PVC-tubing net and on a two-car driveway.
As time went on, I decided to add my own spice to this move. I added a leg kick to the head and body fake, truly committing to the wrist shot and further stunning the goaltender.
This remains my go-to move to this day when I receive the opportunity. It even won me an all-nighter tournament in 2011, when I was the fifth shooter for my team in a tourney-deciding shootout. After my goal, my team’s steady netminder made the save and we were the victors.
I have used this move numerous times since, and it usually fairs pretty well. Thank you, Pavol Demitra.
Like I’ve stated in previous posts of this series, that’s about the extent of my hockey skills.
Since I’ve started playing ice hockey again in the past month, I’ve found myself on a few breakaways (anyone who has ever skated in a drop-in knows this is a common occurrence). I’ve tried a few moves, but I have shied away from my go-to since I wasn’t feeling too confident in my skates yet. However, Sunday night was a different story.
At a skate at the Rec Plex ice rink in St. Peters, Mo., my third drop-in of the week, I received a nice pass from my defenseman and I had one player to beat. I came in on the forehand and switched to my backhand as I crossed the blue line. The opposing player misread and it gave me a breakaway chance. I skated in on the forehand, kicked my leg to fake the shot and the goalie dropped. As I skated in, he shimmied over as I switched to the backhand, but he left his five hole open. I slid it there and scored one of my prettier ice hockey goals in a long time.
Despite it being a drop-in game, the goal implanted some confidence in me and I played some of the best hockey I’ve played in years the rest of the game. My speed picked up, my passes were crisper and my shot selection was more on par. Maybe this was all my imagination, but to me, there was a noticeable change in my game. It couldn’t have come at a better time because the Steinberg Winter Classic is this coming weekend.
Skating in My Natural Position
Although most of this post has involved discussion of emulating one of the most gifted NHL forwards of the last 30 years, I was able to skate in my natural defensive position a lot this week. It’s important because there’s a chance I will be my tournament team’s only defense-first player.
Participating in an ice rental Friday night at the Shark Tank in South St. Louis County, I played most of the night on defense. There were a few poke checks and board battles in which I was the victor, but it was a friendly skate with little hard-nosed defense taking place. It’s difficult to judge your defensive game when you’re really not supposed to play to your instincts.
However, bodying a player is completely acceptable. I leaned into multiple players and put myself in a position to restrict shots to the net.
I continued this during the Sunday drop-in. With only three subs on my team throughout the hour-and-a-half skate, I had plenty of time to grow comfortable on defense again. Even against some of the fastest skaters, I was able to lift sticks and poke pucks away with relative ease (it helps when the strongest players are going at half speed).
Although true defensive play will also be minimal in the Steinberg Winter Classic, feeling that same confidence will be key when skating against some of St. Louis’ best players in my age group.
My Workout This Week – Power Training
As I continue my work with plyometrics and jump rope, I added something else into my routine that was brought to my attention by Bryce Salvador and Ben Shear — power training with a rebounder/trampoline.
Growing up, I was the kid in the neighborhood with the massive trampoline in the backyard. My siblings and I spent countless hours on it, doing stuff we probably shouldn’t have been. Even in today’s age, I still think of fun and recreation when I hear “trampoline,” despite trampoline training for stints in my high school days.
However, fun wasn’t coming to mind while I was trying this.
On the video Bryce and Ben created, Bryce completed 10 push downs. These are simply using your lower body to push down on the trampoline, while keeping your upper body relatively in the same spot. The image below best shows how this is done.
The motion here truly resembles how you feel when you are at a standstill on your skates and you push off to get moving. It’s easy to see why this workout is paramount for hockey players.
I have completed this routine three times now and have been able to up my number of reps each time. I started at 30 each, went to 40 and finally completed at 50 reps per set with three total sets — ouch. My legs were as useful as Jell-O the day after completing 150 of these.
I’m noticing a change, though. My endurance on the ice is vastly improving, while my desire to attempt these workouts has improved greatly.
The Steinberg Winter Classic begins Friday — one more post until game time. This should be an interesting week.
Until next time.
Beer League Journal
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