Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Another Season of Hockey Ends

by Tammie Vivlamore

The Off-Season Begins
Which means parents can breathe for a moment and catch up on all the things that they tend to put aside during the games, practices and travel of hockey season. A season that cost us all time, energy and precious sleep. Wow, you actually get to see your spouse for more than 30 seconds at a time! The end of the season means your kids are a little stronger, a little taller, and a little less hungry (or not)! Not much winter cushion on a hockey player!

Time for an Ice Break?
Nothing wrong with that! It’s okay to play a little hooky from playing hockey. You should not extend yourself and your pocket book trying to find ice time or a summer league if your child really doesn’t want to keep skating. A break from the ice can be a good thing. Whether you know it or not, a lot of non-hockey games are excellent for postseason conditioning.

Conditioning is Key
Conditioning is physical and/or mental activities that prepare an athlete for an upcoming season or performance. It is primarily done by serious athletes that have a specific goal they are trying to reach such as the Olympics, NHL, college, juniors, high school, etc.

Specific conditioning is generally not stressed until an athlete is at or close to high school age and that athlete has a specific goal in mind. “Strides” is a popular conditioning program for hockey, soccer and lacrosse. Strides is held at the CNY Family Center on Jones Road in Baldwinsville as well as other locations. ESL Arena in Rochester offers a skating treadmill and various off-season conditioning programs. The results of these programs vary especially for the younger athletes.

Get Down with Down Time
USA Hockey recommends down time for all hockey players especially young hockey players. Down time is simply time away from a sport or activity. Down time gives the muscles (including brain) a much needed rest from the sport or activity. It also is a good way to prevent burnout. Down time allows the player to pursue other interests, activities or just take in a little rest and relaxation.

Scoring Off the Ice
USA Hockey and many NHL players (current and past) recommend playing other sports or doing other activities though out the year. For the younger hockey players, this is all the conditioning they really need for next hockey season. Many coaches and talent scouts believe that athletes that participated in more than one sport before college make better athletes in their chosen sport in college.

Different sports work different muscles and promote thought and creativity which can be carried over to hockey season. If young athletes choose to play soccer, lacrosse, baseball, football or any combination of sports, they will be learning maneuvering, body contact, positioning and team play as well as strengthening their muscles, lungs and heart. Whether they know it or not they will be conditioning themselves for next hockey season.

Musical Scores
Some athletes such as Ryan Miller and Henrik Lundqvist believe that music and art can be excellent conditioners. Both Miller and Lundqvist are guitarists in bands. Miller’s band has played in Rochester and Michigan in past off seasons. Both goalies believe that playing the guitar has a calming effect, clears the mind and helps increase dexterity and reaction time. Does this work? Check out their stats on NHL.com

Still Itching for Ice Time?
After all these activities if your child still wants to get on the ice to improve or get a better shot at making that travel team, a clinic or two might be a good option. Clinics generally focus on skating or a specific area of hockey. For parents, there's plenty to consider when weighing options including cost, location and scheduling.

Top Notch Skating Clinic
Maximum Development, www.mdhockey.com, is being held at Greater Baldwinsville Ice Arena in August. MD focuses on skating. They break it down and really stress stride and proper skating mechanics.

Specialized Clinic
Turcotte Stick Handling, www.Turcottehockey.com, will also be held at Greater Baldwinsville Ice Arena in August. They are a specialized clinic focusing strictly on stick handling. They teach the skills that can be worked on in the yard or basement. (You don’t need ice to practice stick handling). Most hockey practices do not focus on stick handling. Coaches expect players will work on those skills on their own time.

Finding the Right Fit
A week is too much ice time for your child over the summer? No problem. Check your local ice hockey association or ice rinks websites. Coaches from different organizations hold week night clinics through out the summer. Some charge for a certain number of clinics (one a week for six weeks or so). Some charge for only what you attend ($10 an hour, for example).

Greater Baldwinsville Ice Arena will hold Sunday clinics again. Check out their website for details, http://www.bvilleice.com/. They have even added a peewee/bantam session this season.

Your child wants to just play and have fun without concentrating on …huh…skills?
Some of the year round ice rinks offer youth summer hockey in some form. Cicero sometimes holds youth summer hockey. These are usually no contact games that happen once or twice a week. Greater Baldwinsville Ice Arena has held 3 on 3 leagues. These are fast paced cross ice games of 3 skaters aside. Check out the rinks websites to see what they have in store for the summer. Check them regularly, they change frequently.

OMG! Enough hockey!There are many options for conditioning. If you and your children do nothing else this off-season, enjoy your “no hockey” time and stay in contact with the friends you made during the season. Next season will surely be more fun as a result.

Top Cats in Hockey

Congratulations again to the West Genesee Wildcats boys hockey team for taking top honors and clinching the state title! The team was honored last night with a parade at their high school. Assistant team captain Eric Haney told reporters, " It was just awesome for everyone to experience this undefeated season and state championship together." Truly a dream season, we can only just imagine. Click here to see the NewsChannel 9 story.


Sunday, March 21, 2010

Moving Up and On....

Graduation Time....

Our end of the season gathering Friday night at the Spaghetti Warehouse reflected on a great season. Not in terms of wins and losses, (and there were plenty of wins) but all that our teen boys gained in terms of leadership, friendship and team spirit. There are some years when the months can just drag. Conflicts, clicks on the ice, puck hogs or parents who excessively whine or try to tell the coach how the game ought to be played. There are other years when you hit it just right. Good chemistry, respect for one another on the ice, fun tournaments, good coaching and great parental support. This was one of those years when the planets were aligned and we hit it all, just right.

More than a Season Ender

There were plenty of ' lump-in-the throat moments' Friday night for our final team gathering. Moving up in the hockey hierarchy at this level, often means moving on. Our talented second year Bantams will be playing for their high school teams next season; Camillus, Baldwinsville, C-NS, CBA, Liverpool.... wow, no longer on the same team! They grew up learning how to play on the ice together and next year they'll be battling against each other in the race for the puck. My heart is feeling a little heavy thinking about that, but fortunately this last year for youth hockey ended on a very high note. More on that...in a moment.

It seems like just yesterday I laced him up in his first pair of skates. He wasn't thrilled, but being an avid figure skater, I certainly was and I was determined not to let him give up after a few falls. Two weeks later, I got him to break from a 'march of the penguins' technique to steady glides by blowing soap bubbles on the ice, encouraging him to pop the bubbles with his blades. It worked! He began to develop a love for the ice. It wasn't long after that, my husband announced that he was okay with our son skating, as long as he had stick in his hand. I conceded. The hockey stick stuck and my son's passion for the sport grew. Fast forward to March 2010. Hard to believe this is his last year of youth hockey. A treasured time for sure. As we walked to our car Friday night after the team farewell party, my son said, " This by far was the best year." I didn't have to ask why, but I wanted to hear his reasoning... so I pressed a bit, reminding him this was the first year his travel team didn't secure the Pre-Sectional title. The first year he didn't get that first place trophy to add to all the others on his bedroom shelf. "True enough," said my son, " But this year, we were a team. A real team. " Great way to end the youth hockey experience, achieving goals that matter. Goals that really count.


We handed out gifts and photos , plus we all did a bit of reflecting on the season that just ended, including head coach Mike Zandri. Coach Zandri also praised the Bantam boys for their camaraderie and hard work. " You guys didn't get to states, but not for lack of talent. You were a really good team. It was a lot of fun. There were plenty of great moments during the season, but there was one moment that defined how tight you all got and how well you all came together as a team. It had to be... 'Big John's' goal in Lake Placid. I had a lot of favorite plays during the year, but I would have to say that was one of my favorite goals and I'll tell you why. Because when I turned around and looked back at everyone on the ice and everyone on the bench...every kid was cheering...every parent was cheering as if it was their own kid who just scored that goal. It was the way you guys rallied as a team after Big John's goal and that was a special moment. I remember the whole season, but that particular moment was a very special moment." The coach went on to say, " At the very end of the season, the whole Lake Placid experience... watching you guys run around town on your own, being responsible and good representatives of your team...a great end to a great year. "

Let's relive that magical moment in Lake Placid.....here it is again..big John's glorious goal.

Monday, March 15, 2010

More Lake Placid Pics

The joy on the ice was matched by the joy in the stands!

They soaked up every magical minute of their time on the 1980 Miracle on Ice Rink, the arena that hosted the most transcending moment in the history of U.S. hockey. Beyond winning big on the 1980 Herb Brooks rink, the Bantam boys found 'snow' many other opportunities in beautiful Lake Placid for the International Tournament.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Pepsi Hockey Still Pops

While the city of Syracuse painted its traditional green stripe down the St. Patrick's parade route and decorated floats for the big downtown event, many Central New York hockey families decorated car windows with bright purple, red, blue, yellow or white paint to spell out player's names, numbers and duplicate team logos. You could easily spot the hockey family in their overstuffed vehicles on the thruway heading west. It was my 4th , the Pepsi Hockey Invitationals 34th year, for the tournament in Buffalo. It's always a big draw for many youth hockey organizations looking for a memorable way to end the long season. It's well-run with games that run pretty much on schedule. The rinks are roomy and able to comfortable accommodate teams and guests. Hotels are close to both the Holiday and Leisure Rinks. They're easy to find and a short drive to city attractions to keep families entertained during the off-ice times. This year the team manager set us up in the Hampton Inn. Great choice! We were worried because of the small-sized pool, but it worked out well since games were staggered throughout the day. Even though the place was packed with hockey families, the pool never overflowed with children. Unlike others, this hotel rolled out the red carpet for hockey families, greeting us with gift bags and letting our kids play knee-hockey in the lobby. You still had to sign the standard, 'we promise to behave' agreement, but there was lots of breathing room. We even got to set up a party room for the kids to watch movies and play video games. It was refreshing to be so welcomed with a hotel that understood how rambunctious kids can get , when they're all together after a hard fought hockey game. As long as we parents kept them somewhat in line, they were cool.

I've always looked forward to these end-of -the- year tournaments for several reasons. It's not all about the wins...at all. There have been some years in which my son's team has taken home a first or second place prize and sure..that was exciting. But what else do you think he remembers most about all those tournaments? It wasn't what happened from one period to the next, or who got the game-winning goal. It's all those times with his good buddies...roaming the halls without parents right behind, sneaking those rides in the luggage cart, the cannonball contests in the mega-sized pool and so much more. So much more. His Lake Placid tournament, by far, was the best. I need to post more photos from that!
My daughter's team didn't get to take home the hardware this tournament, but check out the video below. Just like my son's team, they too shared many terrific times they'll always remember and got to enjoy a weekend together, having fun and just being kids!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

New In The Net

by hockey mom Dawn O'Neill
Let me introduce myself...I'm the mom of a first-time goalie (now 7). I would like to share some of my journey, as we wrap up our first season in our newly found world of youth hockey.
It all started last December, when my then six-year old son, begged me for weeks on end to take him skating. It came as a bit of a shock, since he NEVER strapped on a pair of skates in his life! I finally succumbed to his begging and pleading. One Sunday afternoon, I took him to our neighborhood ice rink in Radisson. Being ill-prepared, I dressed him just in jeans and a coat. I slapped on a pair of rental skates and got him laced up for what would be a really rocky first start. During our first 30 minutes of "open skate" as we now know it, my son fell nearly 100 times. With each fall, came the tears and I could see the "Mom, I want to go home now" coming my way. Not being a quitter myself, I encouraged him up again and again. To my surprise, by the end of the hour and a half, he was running across the ice and I could barely keep up. It was this day, that our hockey journey began.
We continued to skate every Sunday for the next few months, and then that fateful, exuberant phrase was spoken, "Mom, I want to play hockey!" Before I go on, I need to share something with you. There were two sports that I did NOT want my sons playing and yes you guessed it, HOCKEY was one of them. (the other was football)
If you could see the love in his eyes when he exclaimed to me his desire to play hockey, you would understand why we mothers do what we do....we forfeit our nights and weekends for our children's' enjoyment in all that they love to do. As we continued our new venture into this very unfamiliar sport's territory, I reached out to people I knew and found good contacts in the Lysander Youth Hockey Association. So, we started taking those Sunday skating clinics to strengthen the skills of this new, young player. THEN came the most exuberant claim from my little guy, "Mom, I want to be a GOALIE!" I thought to myself, "Oh, my goodness, it's bad enough he wants to play hockey, but now he wants to be goalie?" So, not only does he want to play a sport that requires a lot of time and money, but now he wants to play THE MOST EXPENSIVE position. Yikes!
So off we went. He began taking goalie clinics. He did all the formalities of registering for the league. Then came the tryouts, where he declared his intent on being a goalie, but he tried out for player as well. To our surprise, he stepped right over the Mite C level and into Mite B. So far, so good. Then came THE big day, our first game in Geneva and he was starting goalie. Now, if that doesn't put a lump in your throat and triple your heart rate, I don't know what will! While we have all watched our kids "perform" either in a play or a concert, there is NOTHING like being a goalie mom and watching from the stands as your six-year old gets "shot on" and "poke checked" with the whole intent of breaking him down and finding his weak spot or that open "5 hole." Being a goalie (like it or not), means you take the weight of the whole world on your shoulders! Looking into a son's heart and soul after a loss (and a win) will bring tears to your eyes! Whether the team played as a team, failed to defend, or simply got out-played, he feels the defeat into his core. Or, the time when he played one of the best games of his life with a 1-1 tie with 15 seconds left, only to see the other team "stack the line" and poke at him until they wore him down and jammed the puck in with 7 seconds left. Ouch, that one hurt! I never sit down during a game and have an extreme level of nervous energy the minute he steps out onto the ice until the final buzzer. Nonetheless, I am the proudest mom in the stands when they skate off the ice. I give him my hugs, win or lose. I always tell him how very proud I am of him for always playing with heart.
When I look at my son and when he asks, "Mom, will you shoot on me?" (24/7) or when he says, "Mom, I just wish I was in net today!" Or, "Mom, I'm going to be the next Ryan Miller and play for the Sabres, "... I know in my heart of hearts, this is worth it! And...he's good. (Well, what mom doesn't think that?)
Being a goalie is like no other position on the team. For a goalie mom, the ups are the most exhilarating sight to see, as the team piles on your son mid-ice because he made all those saves and they got the win. Or, when you get told, even after a loss, that your son just broke a record with 31 saves! The downs will tear at your heart as he feels a complete let-down to the team. But, in most cases, it's short-lived and often fixed with a trip to Friendly's and he's back at it with the same yearning passion the next time around.
I proudly wear my "Goalie Mom Badge of Honor" and as we finish this first season. I can't wait to see my son "IN NET" again next year, with the same lump in my throat and sense of deep pride every time he skates onto the ice to take his position as the Ultimate Defender.

This Tournament Gets the Gold!


By far the best tournament ( and I've lost count as to how many) we've ever experienced. The inspiring surroundings, the win by the boys on the 1980 Herb Brooks Miracle on ice Rink and
so many cherished memories. I'll let hockey dad Steve Ratliff's fantastic photos tell some of the story. More to follow....

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Breaking it Down

Chalk Talk Lingo for Little ones

by Lauren & Mike Carni (mite hockey mom/dad)

Off-sides, icing and zones can be pretty big concepts for little ones to grasp. Even as adults, we often catch ourselves scratching our heads after a ref's call. Oh, was that off-sides? Dr. Chris Santay's unique chalk talk style has everybody at the rink talking about his break-it-down-to their level approach. Using analogies and fictitious characters, he explains some complicated rules in a fun and engaging way. There's the big, giant defensman and knowing when to hit the puck "out the window!!" These youngsters are just learning how to read and write and thanks to coach Santay, they're already far ahead of many of us when it comes to understanding the many rules of hockey.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Chalk Talk Lingo for Little Ones

Breaking it Down

by hockey mom and dad Lauren & Mike Carni

Off-sides, icing, and zones can be pretty big concepts for little ones to grasp. Even as adults, we catch ourselves scratching our heads after calls. Oh, was that off-sides? Dr. Chris Santay's chalk talk has everybody at the rink talking about his break-it-down to their level method. Using analogies and fictitious characters, the coach explains the rules of play in a fun and engaging way. There's the big, giant defenseman and knowing when to hit the puck "out the window!" These kids are just learning how to read and write and thanks to Coach Santay, they're already way ahead of many of us when it comes to understanding the many rules of hockey.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Skate for Thomas this weekend

Here's a reminder everyone. The Skate-a-Thon to Benefit Thomas Sellers is this weekend. Let's make helping Thomas and his family our goal this weekend.

Thomas Sellers is an active 9 year old that has been recently diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. He is a Midstate Hockey player, student at Fremont Elementary School in East Syracuse and a member of Immaculate Conception Parish. When: Sunday, March 7th, 2010 3:00p.m to 5:00p.m.

Where: Coliseum, NYS Fairgrounds
For more information, or to donate contact:
Pam Richards at (315)458-1128 or grichards71@verizon.net
Lori McRitchies (315)345-1714 or mcritchie5@gmail.com
All skaters must wear a helmet. Bike helmets are acceptable.
There will be food, music and raffles, including a 50/50.