Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Rules that should Rule at the Rink

He calls them simple rules, but I'm going to go ahead and call them the 13 Golden Rules for hockey parents. ESPN Sports Anchor John Buccigross, who endeared himself to me forever by confessing to me in an e-mail that he loves hockey moms, has come up with a must-read list for all hockey parents, whether you're a newbie or a veteran in the stands. Simple rules? Not that simple, if you spend any time at the rinks and witness how parents can so often and so easily complicate matters. That's why we need good, snappy writers like John to keep us focused on what truly should matter.
When asked what inspired him to come up with the list, he told me that being a father of two hockey players (ages 10 and 17), he has seen a lot and he's a pretty observational guy. That will become obvious as you read on. He writes from the heart and from experience; " If nothing else, it gets them away from electronics and teaches them a small slice of humanity that they can take forward through life, a life with more heart and less battery power. The rink's cold robs electronics of their battery power and signal reception, anyway."
Here are two of my favorite rules;

2. Hockey is an emotional game and your child has the attention span of a chipmunk on NyQuil. The hockey coach will yell a bit during practice; he might even yell at your precious little Sparky. As long as there is teaching involved and not humiliation, it will be good for your child to be taught the right way, with emphasis
3. Hockey is a very, very, very, very difficult game to play. You are probably terrible at it. It takes high skill and lots of courage, so lay off your kid. Don't berate them. Be patient and encourage them to play. Some kids need more time to learn how to ride the bike, but, in the end, everyone rides a bike about the same way. Your kids are probably anywhere from age 4-8 when they first take up hockey. They will not get a call from Boston University coach Jack Parker or receive Christmas cards from the Colorado Avalanche's director of scouting. Don't berate them. Demand punctuality and unselfishness for practice and games. That's it. Passion is in someone, or it isn't. One can't implant passion in their child. My primary motive in letting my kids play hockey is exercise, physical fitness and the development of lower-body and core strength that will one day land them on a VH1 reality show that will pay off their student loans or my second mortgage.
Of course you want to read more.....For the rest , click here!
John Buccigross serves as a SportsCenter and ESPNEWS anchor and occasionally hosts ESPN’s Baseball Tonight. He joined ESPN as an ESPNEWS anchor in October 1996, prior to the launch of the 24-hour sports news network that November. Buccigross was the primary host of NHL 2Night, ESPN2’s 30-minute program dedicated to hockey highlights and news from 1998 – 2004. Since 2001, he has also been a weekly ESPN.com columnist. Buccigross signed a book deal in the spring of 2006 with Middle Atlantic Press to write the life story of former NHL player and current NHL analyst Keith Jones. The book's title is Jonesy: Put Your Head Down And Skate. The Improbable NHL Career of Keith Jones.

Hockey New Year!

Looking forward to hockey in 2010
and keeping notes on the season with paper and pen

Another year of sharping skates and skills
of watching dramatic plays and spills

It's not about winning every game,
accept the losses, spare coaches the blame

Love every minute as if it's the last
because we all know our kids grow way too fast

So let's ring in the year and wish for dangles and snipes
and please, can we hold off on the gripes?

Friday, December 18, 2009

When the snow flies, when the kid cries..when my feet turn blue. Here are a few of my favorite ads...

Honda Hockey Ad Click Here

The Honda Ad is my all-time favorite. It so cleverly captures the images of my life! I've always been fond of this one too:

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Perfecting that Practice

I don't think anyone would question how important practices can be, but maybe you're questioning whether your kids are getting the most out of their practices. Here's some inspiring advice, that just may help get your youth hockey player jacked up for stops, passes, drills and naturally a few spills. The advice comes from Kim McCullough, a former Division I captain at Dartmouth. Kim played in the National Women’s Hockey League for six years and is considered a top expert in the development of aspiring female hockey players. She's the founder/Director of Total Female Hockey and the Girls Hockey Director at the PEAC School for Elite Athletes in Toronto.

Kim's Keys to a Successful Practice

By Kim McCullough, MSc, YCS

We’ve all been at those practices where no one can make a pass, the goalies can’t stop a beach ball, no one looks like they’re trying and the coach is ready to pull all their hair out. While every team knows that every practice is an opportunity to take your game to the next level, all too often players are guilty of just showing up and going through the motions. There is nothing more frustrating to a coach, parent or player when no one can seem to do a single thing right out on the practice ice.
That’s why I created a 5 Point Practice Performance Plan that will help to keep players focused, coaches sane and teams on track as we start into the busiest part of the season.

1. Finish Every Drill To The End: This is a huge pet peeve of most coaches. There is nothing more frustrating than watching you work hard for 95 percent of the drill and then slowing down or giving up right at the end. Why? Because it’s that last 5 percent that you don’t think matters that really counts. Most players will let up right before the end – and that’s the most important part. Be different. If your coach tells you that the drill finishes at the goal line or on the whistle, go hard until the end. This tells your coaches and your teammates that you are willing to go the extra mile.

2. Play Every 1-on-1 Battle Like It’s Your Last: In games, you will do anything to win a race to the puck or win a battle along the boards. Why don’t you do the same in practice? Coaches like to say that you have to “practice like you play.” Think of it this way – if you don’t go hard on every 1v1 battle in practice, how are you making your teammates better? When they have to face a “real” 1v1 battle in a game, they won’t be prepared because you took it easy on them in practice. You have to want to win every battle – whether it’s a game, tryout or practice. This tells your entire team that you are determined to make yourself and your teammates better.

3. Talk: This is by far the simplest thing you can do in practice to make yourself and your teammates better. It drives me crazy to watch practices and games where players aren’t calling for the puck. I have a rule with my team that if you don’t call for the puck, I won’t pass it to you. It might make players look foolish when they skate past me without a return pass, but they get the message very quickly. When I watch games as a scout and coach, I guarantee you that I will always notice the players that are talking out on the ice. If your goal is to get noticed, this is a no-brainer. This says that you are confident in your positioning and abilities.

4. Follow Your Shots: This might seem like a really small detail – but it’s a huge deal, especially in girls’ hockey. Far too many players take their shots and then practically skate themselves into the corner on the follow through. GO TO THE NET! I am not telling you to run the goalie over, but you would be shocked at how many more opportunities and goals you will get by following your shots. Start programming yourself to do this automatically by stopping in front of the net after every shot you take in practice. Once you get into the habit, you’ll see a huge increase in your opportunities to score.

5. Stay Positive & Help Your Teammates Do The Same:
We all have days out on the ice when we feel like we can’t do anything right. The easy choice is to put yourself down, slam your stick against the boards when you make a mistake and apologize to your teammates for being “so bad.” Don’t make the easy choice – make the hard one. Choose to stay positive even when things aren’t going your way. Don’t apologize for making a bad pass - decide to make the next one better.

These 5 points may seem small but they will make a big difference in how you practice and play.

Get complete access to articles, videos, interviews and advice on how to take your game to the next level at http://www.totalfemalehockeyclub.com/.

Download Your Free Copy of The “7 Point Practice Performance Plan” by clicking on the link below:

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

'Stand'outs in the Stands

While I'm often cheering for the little miracles our mites perform every weekend on the ice, this time I have to put the spotlight on the parents in the stands. I was proud to be among the group of moms and dads who, after our team scored more than four goals, and the other team was clearly struggling, the chants, cheers and shouts in the stands became more subdued....like golf claps. It was classy. Even though our kids held that remarkable lead and we were thrilled, we tempered our enthusiasm because we know all too well what it's like to be that other team. Just a few weeks back when our kids were getting creamed and it was so painfully reflected on the scoreboard, we were on the receiving end of the cheers from some pretty obnoxious parents. I will never forget how it made us all feel when the gloating parents from the other team cheered relentlessly for each and every goal (so many I think we lost count) even though we couldn't get a single one in the net. Okay, your kids are good. We get it. Yuck. Just leaves a bad taste in the mouth. While we savored the sweet taste of victory, we tried not to make it bitter for the other guys. Score one for the parents!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Hockey Hurts

Two years after our first trip to the ER when my Pee Wee son went fist-first into the boards, we found ourselves back in the emergency room this past weekend with another painful injury. My Bantam boy was cross-checked during tournament play and he got slammed... shoulder-first this time ....into the boards. We're not sure, and maybe it was a combination of events, but we strongly suspect that was the leading cause of the injury to his right shoulder. He kept on playing, but when he kept missing passes and his skating slowed considerably, we knew something was wrong. After the game, when he finally confessed he couldn't raise his arm above his waist, we took him to the emergency room. Five hours and two X-rays later, the doctors at the hospital ER told us the shoulder wasn't broken and it appeared to be a very bad bruise around the bone. Ibuprofen, ice and keep it in a sling, for now, the doctors told us and follow up with an orthopedic expert when you can. Relieved, but not convinced there wasn't more to this extremely painful injury, we placed a call to my son's orthopedic surgeon's office the next day ( hard to believe a kid has an orthopedic surgeon at the age of 14, but I guess that's not all that unusual in youth hockey). The office told us to get him in right away. We did. A good call not to wait and thank the Lord we've got a medical expert who knows how to read X-rays! He delivered the heartbreaking confirmation of what we had feared. It WAS a break and not "just a bad bruise." A broken clavicle at the growth plate will keep him off the ice for a minimum of four and possibly as long as six weeks, depending on what his next X-ray shows. No hockey, no skating, no stick handling in the driveway. Nothing. He can still text, so we're not at the total meltdown phase. Tough news to take though, when you've worked so hard to make the high school Varsity hockey team and all summer you couldn't wait to get back on the ice for your last final youth hockey year with the good buddies you've grown up with on the ice. He's sidelined and miserable. Physical pain ? It's intense, but he seems to be dealing with that just fine. It's the mental and emotional anguish of not being on the ice that's so hard to take. We're going to get him to as many games as we can. As we witnessed during his last hockey season injury, making sure he's around his team and feeling like he's a still a part of the team, ought to help with his mental state and recovery.
Word to the Wise; Research Medical Resources
I've been learning a lot of lessons along the way and not just about bruises, bone injuries, growth plates and how much hockey hurts . Finding that good doctor is key. The doctor we've been going to has treated a lot of youth hockey players. I like how he takes the time to explain the injury and how the injuries relate to youth hockey players and athletes. The explanation this time around seemed to offer some comfort to my son, who I sense is feeling some doubts about himself and his abilities right now. I hope you'll never need one, but based on what I've experienced, it's a good idea to do some research on physicians who specialize in treating hockey injuries and find someone who will deliver that extra dose of comfort at a time when your hockey player will need it the most.
Real Hazards in Youth Hockey
Both of my son's injuries happened after he hit the boards, fast and hard. What happened to my son, apparently happens to a lot of youth hockey players, according to a State University of Buffalo study. Their research shows it's not all those nasty-looking body checks that are sidelining our kids. The real hazards in hockey, according to this study, are players unintentionally crashing into each other and into the boards. After following more than 2500 boys ( between the ages of 4 and 17) over two seasons, the results showed more than half of injuries were caused by unintentional collisions with the board, the ice or between players. Body checks? They accounted for just 12 percent of injuries. In a University at Buffalo press release, lead author Barry Willer was quoted as saying, " It's important to teach a child very early to learn to look forward where he wants to shoot the puck and to 'feel' the puck with his stick, instead of watching the puck. By watching where you are going, you learn to avoid collisions. " That advice may not prevent those hits from behind, but it does makes a lot of sense. As for preventing shoulder injuries, the experts advise good properly sized shoulder pads and constant reminders to players to avoid dropping their shoulders in an inevitable board collision.

Hockey safety checklist;

* Deliver a hit to the head
* Check from behind
* Drop your head near the boards
* Leave your feet to give a check

* Use your stick as a weapon

Friday, November 27, 2009

' Tis the Season

Hockey season is underway and unfortunately concussion season has also begun. Just a few weeks into regular play and I’ve already heard of three youth hockey players who’ve suffered possible concussions during some aggressive games. Troubling to hear because we've got a lot of hockey ahead of us. Unlike knee, shoulder or wrist injuries, concussions can have long term and devastating effects, some of which are not realized until much later in life.

Teaching Heads Up Hockey
Coaches are concerned too. While chatting with an Onondaga Thunder Squirt coach the other day, he made a point of telling me how wished parents would spend as much money on helmets as they do on skates and sticks. “Think about,” he said. “What’s the most important part of your young hockey player’s body? The head! Spending 50 dollars on a helmet and 250 dollars on skates, just doesn’t add up.” This coach shared several stories of kids on his team taking some nasty inadvertant hits. Fortunately, his young players didn't suffer any serious head injuries, but like so many other coaches, he fears it every game.

Equipment is key, but that shouldn't be the only area of investment. You certainly don't want to foster a false feeling that protective equipment is going to prevent all injuries. It's not and many experts believe education needs to start early. If our kids are not taught proper checking techniques, especially along the boards, chances are we’ll continue to see even more concussions. Several coaches I’ve chatted with are all for teaching the kids “heads up” hockey well before the body-checking Pee Wee level. They’ll have a better understanding of body contact, puck separation and how to play the game safely when it's time for body contact.
Monkey See
Kids often emulate what they see. If they’re at a hockey game or watching one on TV they may witness some head hunting and may think that’s the way to play the game. We need to make sure they know it’s not the way to play and how hits to the head have to be off limits.

Injuries On The Rise
Big hits and hockey go together like hand in glove. But as these NHL players get bigger and faster, the number of concussions has risen too. Recent research shows more than 750 NHL players have been diagnosed with a concussion in the past twelve years. The National Academy of Neurosychology's Sport Concussion Symposium in New York did a ten season study and found;

31 concussions per 1,000 hockey games. 760 games were missed by those injured players during the '06-'07 season, a 41 percent increase from the previous season. 41 percent!

Harvard Helmets
The issue of concussions is finally getting some much-needed attention. On the college level, the Harvard men's hockey team this year is working with The Messier Project, to promote safe play during the season. Spearheaded by Hall of Famer Mark Messier, the team was issued new helmets that are designed to provide extra protection from concussions. Harvard becomes the first Division I team to join the campaign to address hockey concussions. Good to see. While we still don't know a lot about concussions, we do know they are real and the damage can be devastating.

For more information on this topic go here.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Much More than a Hockey Game

Syracuse Crunch fans are lining up to scoop up tickets that are now on sale for the 1:00p.m. February 20th Outdoor Hockey Game at the NYS Fairgrounds. Priced at 30 and 40 dollars, you can purchase them through ticketmaster or the Crunch Box office. I've heard nothing but excitement within the hockey circles I travel in, regarding the history making game for the AHL that will honor the roots and heritage of our favorite sport. Not surprising, since it's been tried twice by the NHL to huge success. At yesterday's press conference Syracuse Crunch Player Chris Higgins said, "You grow up playing pond hockey with all your friends so I think it will have a little bit of a pond hockey feeling to it. At the same time we know that it's a game, it should be a great game and hopefully we can come out with a victory."
It's already a victory for our community. The Empire State Development Corporation expects the game of uncontrolled outdoor ice to bring $1 million into our area and attract about 20,000 fans from across New York State and Northeastern Canada. The Crunch is calling the event a celebration of hockey that will recognize all levels, from youth to recreation to professional players. You can count on the wide-eyed youngest level players to be in the stands that day. Coaches of youth hockey teams are already doing head counts for tickets and rearranging game schedules for kids to turn out in a big way for the Outdoor Classic. The Crunch is also working out plans for youth hockey players to take part in events leading up to the big game. We should soon be hearing details about all of that soon.
It'll be a real team effort to make all of this happen. Pretty amazing when you think about what it's going to take to pull this off. No scoreboard, so they'll rent two video pop-up screens to display the score and penalty times. They'll need gravel, portable locker rooms, heaters and of course ice! They figure it'll take about two weeks to get the transformation job done.
Let the Crunch outdoor countdown begin! A cinder race track that sits quiet in the dead of winter will soon be turned into an ice arena and hockey fans can't wait to make some noise. Crunch owner Howard Dolgon says the country and maybe now all of North America is going to be looking at Syracuse on February 20th and that's going to be something special. We agree Howard, something special in commemoration of old time pond hockey. It certainly will be something special to a generation of young, indoor arena players who are guaranteed to witness so much more than a hockey game.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Crunch Experience 2009





Where Hard Work and Talent Can Take You

Mite Coach Pete Schroeder shared this video with parents today as an example of where hard work and talent can take you. Coach Schroeder is friends with this young man's father. Check it out!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Your Ticket to Hockey History

We're getting ready to make some hockey history in February and the Syracuse Crunch would like as many youth hockey players as possible to be a part of the great outdoor adventure. Clear your schedules, reschedule any games and mark your calenders for February 20th. We'll learn more this week about the big game against the Binghamton Senators when the Crunch holds a press conference on Tuesday. I'm already hearing how the Crunch would very much like to see a big youth hockey tournout and have events in the week leading up to the first outdoor game in AHL history. It will be a great day for Syracuse hockey and for our kids. Stayed tuned. We'll keep you posted.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Benefit for Brittany

She's fighting a courageous battle, off the ice and she's just 8 years old. Let's show her she's not alone by lending support to Brittany Karboski and her family. The spirited Salmon River Storm hockey player has been diagonosed with cancer. A fundraiser has been planned to help the family with expenses. I've always been impressed by the generosity and compassion in our Central New York hockey community and this would be the time to show it again. So spread the word to lace up on Sunday November 29th from 1:00pm to 3:00pm at the Haldane Ice Rink in Pulaski. Time for some teamwork with the goal of saving more than pucks on Sunday, the 29th.

For donation and pledge sheets contact:
Carol Ackley at 315-412-3521
Steve Olson 315-529-9782

Friday, November 13, 2009

Crunch for Another Decade

It's a done deal and let's celebrate! A new lease has been signed and that means we get to enjoy ten more years of Syracuse Crunch games at the downtown War Memorial. Good news for all of us hockey fans and for youth hockey. Crunch night experiences have long delivered some of the best memories for our kids. An afternoon youth hockey game, followed by a pizza party downstairs and a Kodak moment with Al. The hurried uniformed parade up the stairs to take over a section in the stands leaves little time to sit back , relax and enjoy the game. You've got to gather the kids, parade them back down the stairs to suit and lace them up. It never fails. With just a few minutes to spare, nature calls. You asked them how many times before they got all of their gear on? Any frantic moments quickly give way to feelings of pride and excitement as the kids take to the ice and skate between the periods. Then you hear it. The cheers from what sounds like an NHL-sized crowd. They're cheering for our kids. There they are. On the grand ice and giving the crowd plenty of reason to cheer. Memories that last a lifetime for you and for your youth hockey player. Here's to ten more memorable years.

10 more years

It's a done deal and let's celebrate! A new lease has been signed meaning the Syracuse Crunch will be playing at the War Memorial arena for another ten years. Good news for all of us hockey fans and for youth hockey. Crunch experiences have delivered some of the most memorable

times for our kids. A game in the afternoon, followed by a pizza party and a Kodak moment with Al. After the purple uniformed parade up the stairs to take over a section in the stands, there's little time to sit back, relax and take in the game. You've got to gather the kids, parade them back down the stairs, get suited and laced up. Just when you think you've got it all timed out with a few minutes to spare, it never fails. Nature calls. You asked them, HOW many times before they got all their gear on? All that tension melts away as soon as the kids take to the grand ice and you listen to the cheers from what seems like an NHL-sized crowd. All cheering for our kids. Always a spectacular thrill.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Hull of a Quote

Brett Hull is now a member of hockey's most exclusive club. In typical Hull fashion during his Hall of Fame induction speech Monday he said:

"I accept this honor for all those playing pickup, beer league and senior hockey, who never got the opportunity that I did. For every mom up at 5 (a.m.), who drives to practice . . . every dad working overtime to buy equipment and a pair of tickets to take his kids to an NHL game."

Hull, now a Hall of Famer and no wonder he has so many fans!

Friday, November 6, 2009


While the boy to girl ratio on my daughter's mite team remains 18 to 1, that doesn't seem to bother her one bit. She's been with some of these boys since before they knew how to add and subtract. She parades down the rink hall just like them with a hockey stick in one hand. The other clenched fist lugs 10 pounds of gear stuffed into a bag almost as big as her into a smelly locker room. She thinks of her teammates as extended brothers who chide her when she misses a pass and fist bump her when she scores. When suited up in her protective pads, it's tough to tell her apart from all the boys, save for that tell-tale ponytail. She loves the game and playing with the boys, but she has never been thrilled with the big, bulky, dark and conservative look she inherited from her big brother. Not that she's looking to be a fashionista on the ice, but she doesn't care to always look like one of the boys. That tough-guy image is what most envision when they think of hockey, but I bet you're like me and can't help but have a soft spot in the heart whenever you see a fierce little girl with brightly-colored laces, gloves and a pink stick battling for the puck with the boys. It's a sight that shouts; Plenty of room for girls! They've so often proved they have their place on the ice.

According to USA Hockey, in 2008, nearly 60,000 women were registered and this number does not typically include girls playing for high school or college hockey teams who aren't required to register with the organization. Hockey is also becoming one of the fastest -growing women's sports at the collegiate level. Here in Central New York, you don't have to look far to find proof of that. Syracuse University, with its storied history of athletic promise, has devoted resources to a women's ice hockey team under the helm coach Paul Flanagan. SU research showed a groundswell of athletes in our area that could be recruited to play Division 1 hockey and true to the research, SU has recruited some very talented young women.
Businesses are recognizing this growing segment of the sport with more choices and better selections of shirts, jerseys and equipment with a femine flare. Among the online stores that saw the need to fill a deep void is BelaHockey.com. I was curious about the business that so creatively packages hockey in a very positive way for girls. So, I contacted the company and discovered a very cool story. Based in South Portland, Maine, this business was founded by a pair of hockey moms who teamed up with hockey legend Cammi Granato to create a product line exclusively for girls. Founder Justine Carlisle was happy to answer my questions and I've posted her responses below. Justine says by offering hockey gear designed just for girls, they hope to reinforce that hockey is just as much a girls sport. They also hope to encourage more girls to pick up a stick and give hockey a try. A great goal to have because I know my daughter wouldn't mind having a few sisters on her team.
Justine, thanks for taking the time out for Syracuse Hockey Moms Network. We all know how hockey has long had the image of being a "tough guy" sport tailored to boys. Now that it's becoming more common to see girls strap on hockey skates, do you think girls are finally feeling more comfortable about claiming this as their sport too and how do you think your products have come into play ?
I think hockey is still evolving. We started BelaHockey because we felt it is intimidating for many young girls to start a sport that has been associated as a “boy’s sport” for a long time. There has been tremendous growth in the participation of girls and women in the sport over the past ten years and we believe it is just the beginning of the trend. We hope that by providing products made exclusively for girls – it will help reinforce the message (especially to young girls) that hockey is indeed a sport for them too.

What are you hearing from girls and parents about the hockey line you offer?
We receive emails frequently (mostly from moms and dads) about the products we offer. They have generally found us because they were searching on the web for something special for their daughter that plays hockey. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. They are excited to see a company catering to their girls and many have commented on how they too noticed this market was missing for their daughters.

What are your most popular items?
Our most popular products are our Katie Kaps and hockey sticks. The Katie Kap is a cotton/lycra headband that girls can wear under their helmets to help keep their hair out of their eyes. We heard from many coaches and parents before we developed the product that this was very frustrating for female players on the ice. The design for the Kap was inspired by Cammi’s niece who had used a t-shirt sleeve to keep her hair out of her eyes.
Our sticks are big sellers too because they are completely unique. You can also have them personalized with your name and number. The girls love that!

What are some of the hot trends in hockey gear for girls right now? Are you testing out some new designs?
We have many new products in the works. We are about to introduce a new backpack. It should be on our website in a week. The backpack has adjustable stick holders. It is great for organizing gear and clothing for travel tournaments and games. We are also introducing a line of red, white and blue products prior to the Olympics in Vancouver. We will be offering jerseys, Katie Kaps, skate socks, and hockey socks in patriotic colors.
Lastly, we are working on the design for an intermediate/women’s stick. We have had a lot of requests from women players and hope to have something for them next season

What kind of rewards have you enjoyed since starting BelaHockey?
The whole process has been a whirlwind. The idea for Bela came to us three years ago when our children started playing hockey and we discovered that there just weren’t any products encouraging girls to play. It started out as an idea and before we knew it we were traveling with Cammi to Chicago, LA, and Denver to promote the company at NHL hockey games. We have had many wonderful moments but I have to say the emails from families and photos of the girls wearing our gear are the most satisfying.
Thanks Justine and I have exciting news to share with all of you. Cammi Granato has also agreed to be interviewed for the blog and I'll be working on putting that article together for you soon. Stay tuned.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Recommendations to Prevent Spread of H1N1 for USA Hockey Programs & Coaches

Subject: Important Information for USA Hockey Programs and Coaches
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Dear Program Administrator/Coach
We’ve worked with our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Michael Stuart, to provide you with pertinent regarding the H1N1 virus, including recommendations to reduce the likelihood of spreading the infection.
Specifically, USA Hockey recommends:
Provide individual water bottles for players; do not share water bottles
Regularly wash hands
Clean workout gear for each practice/competition
Keep gloves on during the traditional handshake with opponents
You should be aware that symptoms of the virus include: fever (102 degrees fahrenheit or greater), cough, muscle aches, runny nose, headache or sore threat, with the potential for more serious complications, including pneumonia.
Those affected by the H1N1 virus typically have been children and young adults.
Transmission of the virus may occur from the day before the onset of symptoms and during the five to seven days that the symptoms are present. Infected individuals should stay home until signs and symptoms have resolved, with no fever present for at least 24 hours. The 24-hour no-fever timeline should be achieved naturally, without the aid of fever reducing medications.
Additional information regarding H1N1 is available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by visiting www.cdc.gov/H1N1Flu/.
Best wishes for a successful season.


I would suggest a squirt Gatorade bottle with their names written in Sharpie(tm)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Tricks and Treats of a Hockey Weekend

Saturday's sunrise was at 7:38am. No need to glance at weather calenders or newspapers to know that. We hockey parents so often witness the break of dawn as we set out, determined to make the goal of getting to the game on time. Always trying to find that silver lining, I must confess, it can be a treat to catch a gorgeous sunrise with very little trafffic, other than the big rigs alongside you trying to make their delivery deadlines.

The other treat of an early morning game when you're the parent of a mite is the tranquility of the locker room. The kids are bleary eyed and almost trance-like and you can slip their pads and skates on with complete ease and no complaints. Especially if you have a kid who has to have their gear on, in a certain order, or it's just not going to feel right!

Play early and you've got the rest of the day to enjoy. That's if you only have just one, who is young. It becomes very tricky when you've got two youth hockey players and your older one has two games scheduled for the day. With a mid-afternoon game falling on Halloween night comes the challenge of getting a decent dinner together and keeping the peace with two kids excited to make the most of their planned night with friends. Pizza, macaroni or maybe we should give

Amy's meatloaf recipe a try tonight?

As for action on the ice this weekend? It was a treat to see the mites make some progress in their concept of this game. They've got a long way to go, but they're passing the puck more and not missing quite as many passes. They're making some good attempts to play positions and looking a lot less like little swarms of bees gravitating toward the puck all at once. I only heard parents yell "guys you're on the same team," maybe once or twice at the most this weekend.

Baby steps, or baby strokes I should say.

The Bantam boys had their work cut out for them this weekend. The morning match against Camillus was a very physical game and the Camillus team outhustled our team. In the afternoon Whitestown proved to the kids, you can never get too comfortable with any team. An easy win the first time the team played them, this weekend it was a very close game and too many penalites. It's never a treat to watch your kid take a nasty hit. I still haven't found the trick to stomaching that, no matter how many games he's played.

Of course the weekend can't end without some sort of hockey-related injury and this time we've got three on the injured list. My daughter is claiming to have a tender ankle after jumping off the metal bleachers while cheering for the big brother after the win at the very cold Crisafulli ice rink in Oswego. That was good for two extra pieces of Halloween candy and then it didn't seem to hurt so much. The son is nursing a sore thumb, with no explanation of how that happened.
The husband chimes in with complaints about his big toe now being big and swollen after getting run over by..... a hockey bag!! I think he'll survive, but let's just say it was a long ride home after the hockey game in Oswego. Perhaps a good steak dinner tonight will help the injuries heal a bit faster and that would be a nice treat for mom, the only one without a hockey-related injury this weekend.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

When in Rome....

Our Bantam boys team had yet another good hockey weekend. Now with six wins in a row, they also had an interesting Sunday afternoon playing a very talented girl's team. Going into today's scrimmage with the Lysander U-16 girls team, the boys mistakenly thought the game would be a cakewalk. But the girls proved them wrong and both teams worked hard the whole game. While there wasn't supposed to be any checking, I'm told the girls found a way to "bump into" a few boys. Good for them!

The morning matchup with Rome was a real nail biter. At least for me it was. (I'll book an appointment with my salon first thing in the morning). The teams were very evenly matched and both goalies were outstanding. After trailing much of the game, our boys battled back for an exciting 3-2 victory that had everyone in the stands buzzing and remarking on that's how hockey at this age ought to be played. Very few penalites. Good clean hockey.
Good memories.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Good Banter for Bantams

I'm all for giving our texting teens thumbs a rest and replacing those cellphones as often as possible with a good book that will get them thinking, especially when we can get them thinking about stuff that matters. Coach Mike Zandri's suggestion for our young bantam hockey players to add the book, "My Personal Best" to their reading list is an excellent recommendation. It's a good read, not very weighty and chalk full of good lessons for any young athlete (and coach).

The book shares the journey of legendary baseketball coach John Wooden, detailing his triumphs and struggles. What he learned along the way will no doubt inspire your teen and perhaps your whole team. John Wooden is a man who got it right on and off the court.
Our copy of the book is filled with highlights and dog ears where I know we'll want to keep going back to look again at his earned wisdom and pyramid defining success. While there are too many to list, here are a few of our favorite takeaways;

" No player is bigger or better than the team."

"If you do enough small things right, big things can happen."

" Goals achieved with little effort are seldom worthwhile or long lasting."

"Be more interested in finding the best way, not just in having it your way."

" Motivation must come from the belief that ultimate success lies in giving your personal best."

John Wooden celebrated his 99th birthday this month. Happy birthday coach.

Check out John Wooden's website here.

Good Banter for Bantams

I'm all for giving our texting teens thumbs a rest and replacing their cellphones as often as possible with a good book they'll want to read. Coach Mike Zandry's recommended reading for our bantam hockey team

Good Banter for Bantams

I'm all for getting our texting teens thumbs a rest and replacing those cellphones as often as possible with a good book in their hands. Coach Mike Zandry made a great recommendation for a book that underscores the value of

Good Banter for Bantams

I'm all for giving our texting teens thumbs a rest and replace those cellphones with a good book that will get them

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Let the "Fun"draising Begin

Time to put on our thinking caps, roll up our sleeves and put our best fundraising feet forward so our kids can enjoy a few tournaments and have a memorable season. Ugh. It's always a struggle, isn't it? Youth hockey teams looking for a way to raise money with just a little planning and not a lot of work, may want to consider giving the "Fleece Hat Lady" a call. I met Nancy Townsend today at the Skaneateles Ice Arena where she was selling funky fun hockey fleece hats (pictured above) for 5 dollars, along with neck-to nose warmers and matching mittens. They come in a variety of colors and she has other sports-themed hats as well. Nancy says if you let her set up a booth at your game/tournament event, she will donate a percentage of her profits to your team.
Nancy, from Oswego, can be reached at 315-342-0815,or e-mail ntownsend1@hotmail.com
Hats off to Nancy!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

What's Cooking Hockey Moms?

If the answer to that question is 'not much' because you have no time, take some comfort in knowing you have plenty of company in the harried and hurried arena of youth hockey. Our Hockey Moms network is here to help you get a home cooked meal on the table and make it to practice on time. Veteran hockey mom Amy Colclough has actually done meal planning for hockey moms over the years including casseroles, lots of crock pot stuff, and tips on shopping efficiently. This week she offers a recipe for a no-fuss mid-week meal that is sure to fill the bellies and please the palettes of your hungry hockey player. It’s called Perfect Meatloaf in 25 minutes;

The Perfect Meatloaf: 25 minutes

Preheat oven to 375 deg
In bowl place:
1.5 lbs 95% ground beef
1 box of dry stove top stuffing (I use low sodium) take inner bag out and crush the hard stuffing cubes a little
1 can healthy request Tomato Soup (undiluted)
1 large egg, or 2 small ones
Optional: ¼ cup finely chopped onion and / or green pepper
¼ cup milk

Mix in bowl until combined well: do NOT OVER MIX. Meatloaf will be tough!
Take regular sized muffin tin, spray well with non-stick cooking spray evenly divide meat mixture into muffin spots. Top with ketchup or BBQ sauce, bake for about 25 minutes or until done.
You could put in loaf pan – you just need to cook longer.

Thanks Amy! Boy that sounds yummy and easy. I can’t wait to mix it up and throw it in the oven. Do you have a favorite quick and pleasurably delicious recipe to share? Let us know below.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Kicking Off The Season

I’ll use my son’s current favorite word to describe how the team was feeling going into the first game of their first tournament today; “sketchy.” Understandable, considering the first game they played two weeks ago in Rochester was rather painful. The Rochester Red Wings were red hot and our one sided affair served us a good dose of humble pie. We had a much better taste in our mouths after this morning’s matchup. We got to enjoy the sweet taste of victory in game one of the Blazers shootout tournament at the Cicero Twin Rinks (not to mention the deliciously scrumptious chicken BBQ put on by the hockey moms and dads).

On the ice, my son tells me the team seemed to really gel. Passing, shooting, scoring and it all seemed to flow. The best part of all? It was fun. I think we sometimes forget how important that is and how that still needs to be part of the youth hockey experience, even when in the more competitve stages of Pee Wee and Bantam. Remember how that's ALL it was about when the kids were mites? Ah, the good 'ole days....

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Attention New York State Hockey Coaches!

2009-10 Campaign to Support Our Troops & Their Families
Please take a moment to read our message below.
NYS Hockey Players Support Our Troops is our family sponsored charity that has been raising funds to benefit the families of and the memories of our NYS Military Service Members who have made the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq & Afghanistan. To date, 230 NYS Service Members have been killed in Iraq & Afghanistan. Through the generosity of the greater NYS hockey community & friends, we have been able to raise nearly $30,000!
We hope that you can join us this season in making a difference to some very special New York neighbors. All assistance is welcome. Participation is easy. We raise funds through the sale of our campaign patches. These patches look great on jersey's, jackets, and equipment bags and in many methods of display. We have also sent thousands of our patches to all branches of our Military Services both at home and in the war zones.
Our campaign has touched dozens and dozens of deserving families, wounded warriors, veterans and individual service members. It has enabled our hockey community to make a civic minded statement beyond our ranks and it has given our young people a simple and direct opportunity to support those people and their families who have suffered extraordinary sacrifice and loss.
Patches are only $5 each. simply email Charlie Gili at gili498@aol.com and ask for patches for your team. We have also sent 1000’s of our patches to soldiers who are currently deployed in the battle zones & to those who are recovering from injuries.
Please help us to continue our efforts this year as our service members continue to fulfill their missions.
Warmest Regards, Charlie Gili & Family--On Behalf of NYS Hockey Players Support Our Troops!
**Our charity is registered with the NYS Charities Bureau in the NYS Attorney General's Office**

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Used vs. New: Advice

These tough economic times has us all thinking about ways to save money and this season used equipment may be looking a lot more attractive. It can be a good option and you certainly can save some money with body guards and shin guards. Just be sure to check plastic shells thoroughly for any cracks. How about helmets? Be careful here. Remember, this is the core protection of the face and head of your child, so don't skimp. It may be best to buy new to make sure there are no hidden or hairline cracks in the helmet with an unknown history. Same with elbow pads, especially for the beginner to protect against those falls that happen every which way. Look for hockey pants that offer good hip, thigh and tailbone protection. Gloves should allow your kids to have a nice stable grip and should be long enough to meet with elbow pads. Always have your kids do the "stick test" whenever you buy gloves, new or used. Kids should be able to get a good grip on their stick when they've got those gloves on. Make sure the shoulder pads aren't too bulky and defensemen should get full frontal protection.

Need some in-person expert advice? Our hockey community is fortunate to have a store that specializes in hockey gear, local hockey shop McKie Sports. I've found the folks at the store to be very reliable and honest when it comes to proper fit and needs. Plus, if you bought skates/pads there, they'll allow you to trade them in toward the purchase of new equipment. Every little bit helps in the costly world of youth hockey.

Got Gear? Sell it Here!

What do you mean your new Vapor XXII skates we just bought at the end of the season are too tight? Oh, come on now, you can get by for a few more games. Your feet are blue? Really? Ah yes, the great quandary for the hockey parent forced to face the fact of frequent growth spurts vs. dwindling dollars. Tell me about it. This is far from a cheap sport and how quickly the costs add up once we've suited them up in their skates, elbow pads, helmets, gloves and sticks. Cha ching! We can't help but hope new purchases will at least take them through to the end of the season. But thanks to two local hockey parents, we now have a way of putting some of that hard earned cash back into our pockets and get a price break when it comes to padding up our kids.

Say hello to Open Net Pro Shop, where they "refit your equipment." This a new consignment shop and business venture for a pair of hockey parents. The shop is located inside the Greater Baldwinsville Ice Arena near the front entrance. How does it work? Hockey parents/coaches Jerry Vivlamore and Craig White will have you sign an agreement that lists your gear/prices and offer assistance if you need some help pricing the items. You get 80 percent of the proceeds and they keep 20. Equipment needs to be in good shape and deemed safe for use. They're also offering skate sharpening and new items like mouthguards. You may find the one stop shop for used hockey gear a lot easier than garage sale hopping during those precious jam-packed weekends.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


Our season starts in September, but we haven't totally abandoned the rinks for the summer. My kids just finished up the two week Syracuse University Youth Hockey School at the Tennity Ice Pavilian on the SU campus. We've done plenty of summer camps and clinics over the past eight years and we would rank this one right at the top of our list. Head instructor Paul Flanagan, coach of the SU women's hockey team, kept it fun and challenging for the kids. It was just the right mix of on-ice/off-ice skill development with Division 1 players and coaches. The kids had a ball off the ice spiking a volleyball on the court that was a short walk from the rink. They got to take in some hockey-related films and my daughter was introduced to a strength-training program.

It was especially motivating for my daughter when the coach put some of the SU women hockey players on the ice with the kids. They impressed my son too, who said something like, "Wow, they were amazing...those girls can really skate!" Coach Flanagan plans to run another two week school next summer and I'll be sure to post dates and times for everyone. Be prepared however, you may end up having kids who end every sentence with "aye?" Guess having a Canadian coach (Graham Thomas) around you for two weeks can rub off a bit, aye?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


We're now just weeks away from tryouts, evaluations and eventual weekly practices. Before we kick into high gear, I wanted to share this article that you might want to keep handy during the long season. I found it to be a good motivator and it managed to keep me focused on the important stuff. It was written by a dear friend and veteran hockey mom, who promptly put it on my desk the day she learned my son had laced up and vowed to never skate without a stick in his hand. I placed it in my top desk drawer six years ago and it's been there ever since. Here are some excerpts. Enjoy!

"The hockey mom is truly a model of unacclaimed virtue, a paragon of womanhood tested beyond all limits. She is someone who shivers at 4,015 rink sides from Elmira to Ottawa, from Niagara to New Jersey, and who drives through four-hour blizzards for a one-hour game. She buys $200 ice skates instead of furniture, lives six months in long underwear with skate guards in her pockets. She sifts through the moldy mysteries of a hockey bag, dripping over hockey pucks in drape folds or tries to maneuver past hundreds of splintered hockey sticks, too good to be thrown out, in the upstairs closet. She lugs the hockey bags on her shoulders when her child is a tyke, bakes cookies for the locker room when he's a squirt and billets young Canadian teenagers when he's a bantam.

There are no holidays or time-outs for a hockey mom. The day after Christmas is always spent on the road to a tournament. It's almost Easter before the season ends. That means six months of car breakdowns in Massena and whiteouts in Pulaski and Oswego. Hockey moms don't flinch when they hear that five more games have been added to the schedule, though. They just postpone their cleaning and cooking for one more month. The hockey mom endures and pays the price as long as the ice is available. Somehow the 12-and 13-year-olds who cuddle their hockey sticks in the night make it all worthwhile.

By Nancy Duffy

Amen. Let the season begin.

Monday, August 10, 2009


We were so thrilled when my son landed a spot on the hockey travel team. It was all new to me and I'm still gradually learning the ropes as a travel hockey mom. I figured a travel team meant a little more traveling, a few more games, but had no clue as to how many more dollars were required as well.

The blow was softened when the coaches explained to parents that we would not have to shoulder all of the extra costs for travel and tournaments. But then, just as I had feared, they said it. They said the dreaded "F" word. Fundraising. Ugh! Not again! At this point in my life (two kids in Catholic schools who've played other organized league sports) I have had my fill of fundraising. I truly think I'm suffering from battered fundraising syndrome. You know the signs and symptoms if you've been there. Your friends point at you and warn others to "look out, hide your money, here comes Willy Wonka and her fundraising factory!" Chocolate bars, cookie dough, water bottles, pies, Christmas wreaths, candles, 50/50 raffles, Ipod raffle tickets, yes, I've hawked it all.

Being the travel team newcomer and because this meant so much to my son, I dared not complain. So I managed a pleasant smile as the team decided to go the bottle and can drive route, as our first effort. Fortunately, we did not have to go dumpster diving (I've done that too!) As we hit our team neighborhoods, all of us parents watched in amazement as our young hockey players tackled this task with great enthusiasm. They worked out strategies and set goals, just as we would soon see them do on the ice.

By the end of our drive, we were all exhausted, smelly and sticky. But, we realized we had gained much more than 7,021 bottles and cans that day. The kids got to spend time getting to know each other outside of their pads, helmets and practices. Parents also found a lot of common ground. That's great when you can develop that kind of bonding early on in a long season that has you spending many hours together on the road and on a frigid bench in an unheated rink.

So, the next time your son or daughter's team asks you to help raise money, think of the other benefits that go along with working together for a common "goal" both on and off the ice. Do you have a unique team fundraising idea? I would love to hear from other hockey moms!