Friday, November 30, 2012

NHL Reporter Not On Strike





Mike Morreale   Ever wonder what  it's like to be a reporter for the NHL?  How's the strike affecting the beat?  Meet hockey journalist Mike Morreale.  Mike is also the author of a great book for high school hockey coaches, The Scholastic Ice Hockey Playbook, a must read for every high school hockey coach, player and parent!  Today on the Syracuse Hockey Mom's Network,  Mike shares his thoughts on the lockout,  fighting, youth hockey and reminds us why we're so passionate about this sport!    

   How long have you been writing for NHL.com and what's it like to write about this fast paced sport? Is this your dream job? How and where did you get your start?

Prior to joining the National Hockey League, I worked 17 years at a daily newspaper in New Jersey (The Star-Ledger), covering all high school sports. While that was certainly a lot of fun, my passion had always been hockey -- at any level. I enjoyed reporting on high school hockey, in fact, and was fortunate to come into contact with many great people. At about the time I applied for the position as staff writer at the NHL, the internet was taking over. Print media was becoming obsolete and all the advertising revenue was going into online websites -- at least that was what I thought.

I was hired by the League in January 2008. I have really enjoyed my time with the League. In addition to covering the New Jersey Devils on a game-to-game basis, I have been working closely over the last three seasons as the League's lead writer for the NHL Draft. It's a lot of fun because it kind of brings me back to my roots as a high school reporter with The Star-Ledger. I enjoy working with the people at the NHL and dealing with the athletes and executives on a daily basis. Everyone is just so down to earth and humble for the most part.

I firmly believe that the hockey player is a unique athlete in that he is nurtured and comforted not only outside the playing field, but on it as well. From the time they were young tots, players and their parents needed to wake up in the early-morning hours and travel, sometimes over two hours to reach a hockey rink. Wherever the destination was, they'd sit there, whether it was a practice or game, and watch their child compete. It's unlike any other sport growing up, because in football, baseball or those other team sports, where fields are more prevalent in those areas, parents are usually just driving their kids to practices, dropping them off and then returning to pick them up a few hours later.

Today's NHL players are always thanking their parents for those times. I've never met a hockey player who didn't mention some family member as being a huge part in making their dream become a reality.


  The NHL has already missed more than 400 regular season games. How frustrating is the NHL lockout for you as a writer? Do you think is the sport going to lose fans over this?
NHLLockout
Because I am one of the primary writers for the NHL Draft, I'm basically reaching out to those draft-eligible prospects and writing stories just about every day, so while I wouldn't say it's been frustrating, I think I speak for everyone at the League when I say we all hope a new labor agreement is reached soon. I think everyone is itching for some NHL hockey. I don't believe the lockout will cause those die-hard fans to not watch the games when it does return because it's just too addicting and special a sport. Hockey fans are lifers. I suppose there's a chance the average fan might not view it that way, but I feel once the game resumes, even those fans will eventually return.




  Our youth hockey players look up to these guys, do you think it's sending a bad message to our kids?


          The NHL and the players never wanted this labor dispute to take place. Both sides want to be playing hockey, but I suppose this is the nature of the business. I feel our young players can still look up to these NHL players because they reached the ultimate level of competition through hard work and determination. That's something you can always appreciate and admire in any human being -- battling and working hard to reach a goal. I believe in setting goals every season so this way you always have something to strive for and attain. Those players in the NHL did just that. The lockout has nothing to do with the work that was put in by these athletes. I have and always will have a tremendous amount of respect for the players and executives working to help grow our League.




  Everyone knows this is an aggressive sport, but do you think it's time to retire the nasty fighting?

I was actually asked this very question when I wrote for my college newspaper -- I graduated Rider University in Lawrenceville, N.J. in 1990. Back then, I said that if fighting were abolished completely, I think you would start to see more cheap shots taken. Fighting hasn't been as prevalent in the League as it was in the early 1970's. There were rules implemented to help curtail the amount of fights, but, for the most part, it hasn't been a hindrance or distraction to our game. If an opposing player knows that a big, tough player is on the ice alongside a star player, maybe he would think twice about checking that star player into the boards or raising his stick or throwing an elbow.
I was actually asked this very question when I wrote for my college newspaper -- I graduated Rider University in Lawrenceville, N.J. in 1990. Back then, I said that if fighting were abolished completely, I think you would start to see more cheap shots taken. Fighting hasn't been as prevalent in the League as it was in the early 1970's. There were rules implemented to help curtail the amount of fights, but, for the most part, it hasn't been a hindrance or distraction to our game. If an opposing player knows that a big, tough player is on the ice alongside a star player, maybe he would think twice about checking that star player into the boards or raising his stick or throwing an elbow.

You mentioned that it is an aggressive sport and because it is an aggressive sport with guys skating on a blade of steel and going at 60 miles-per-hour, bodies will collide and tempers might flare as a result. Fighting has always been a part of the game, but players, for the most part, are respectful of each other.


Former NHL player Brendan Shanahan was once asked, "Is hockey hard?" His response: "I don't know, you tell me. We need to have the strength and power of a football player, the stamina of a marathon runner, and the concentration of a brain surgeon. But we need to put all this together while moving at high speeds on a cold and slippery surface while five other guys use clubs to try and kill us. Is hockey hard? I don't know, you tell me. Next question."

  You've authored The Scholastic Ice Hockey Playbook; Strategies of a High School Coach. What's the common mistake our high school coaches make with our kids?

That's a tough one because I feel high school coaching has really come a long way in ice hockey. You look at the amount of talent coming from the high school ranks and into college… it's pretty impressive. But, if there was one thing that bothers me it's when a coach fails to put in the time with some players who might not be as good as his star players. There were some coaches, from what I remember, who always had six players that they would throw out there for 45 minutes of a 60-minute game.

Really, that's not only unfair to the guy playing 15 minutes, but the guy skating for 45 minutes. Yes, I understand that winning is important on the high school level and teaching teens that winning attitude comes with the territory, but let's not forget that hockey is a team game and a team is only as good as the sum of its parts. What are coaches teaching those players that remain out for extended shifts? That
Really, that's not only unfair to the guy playing 15 minutes, but the guy skating for 45 minutes. Yes, I understand that winning is important on the high school level and teaching teens that winning attitude comes with the territory, but let's not forget that hockey is a team game and a team is only as good as the sum of its parts. What are coaches teaching those players that remain out for extended shifts? That teamwork isn't important? How about taking the time to teach and motivate those third- and fourth-line players as well. I think it would not only benefit those kids, but the overall feeling of the team both on and off the ice.

I like the old Japanese Proverb that states: "A single arrow is easily broken, but not ten in a bundle."



 Sadly, two of the most established ice hockey programs in Central New York have just folded due to costly ice time and dwindling numbers. Do you see this as a trend, nationwide, that this is a sport that continues to contract?

It's always sad to hear that news but I don't believe it's happening with regularity on a national scale-- not at all. In fact, I learned last year that participation throughout the U.S. had increased from 195,000 male and female players of all ages registered with USA Hockey in 1990-91 to 475,000 in 2009-10. Earlier in 2012, USA Hockey registered its 100,000th player at the 8-and-younger level.

The 214 U.S.-born players in the NHL last season were born in 28 states and the District of Columbia. USA Hockey provided the following information for me last season -- Leaders by state were Minnesota (46), Michigan (34), New York (29), Massachusetts (15), Wisconsin (13), Illinois (11), Pennsylvania (10), Connecticut (9), Alaska (7), California (5), Missouri (4) and New Jersey (4). In 16 seasons, the Dallas Stars have gone from having almost no amateur hockey presence in the area to possessing six different clubs at different age levels advancing to USA Hockey's national championship tournaments.
 



 7. What advice would you give to youth hockey players who dream of someday being in the NHL? My advice is simple. Stay the course, and always play the game the way you were taught and enjoy the time with your teammates. I think it's important to listen to your coaches and always strive to be your best in practice. One of the greatest cliché's is 'Practice makes perfect!' I couldn't agree more. Always be humble and respectful of your peers and coaches, and remember to play for the logo on the front of the jersey and not the name on the back.




  For parents?

Encourage and compliment as often as possible. No player wants to know how bad they did following a game, whether it's true or not. Constructive criticism is one thing, and constant criticism is another. Parents need to remember that hockey is an emotional game and coaches will yell during practices and maybe even yell at your kid, but so long as there's teaching involved, don't worry. It's important for parents to teach their kids to be respectful of their peers and the game. Don't boast or humiliate a teammate or a player on the opposing team. Celebrating with teammates is one thing, but doing a dance and five consecutive fist-pumps might be taking it to the extreme.

Finally, please don't offer your children cash for goals. What positive message could that possibly send
?


In my years of being around hockey people, I've found them to be earthy, willing to lend a hand and all around good people. Have you found that to be the case too, and what about the professional players? Who do you think is a stand-out, someone who just gets it right?

Let me share a story, which kind of sums this up.After the Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup in 2010, each player on the team was given an opportunity to spend 24 hours with the Cup and do whatever their heart desired. I had an opportunity to document Duncan Keith's day with the Cup in the summer 0f 2010. I was very much looking foward to it because Keith would spend the day in his hometown of Penticton, British Columbia. It;s just beautiful there,


Anyway, when Keith arrived to get the Cup at the airport after we landed, the reporters and videographers were invited to join him and his family on a mini-bus to the few destinations he had planned for that day -- July 17, 2010.

When I walked onto the bus, Keith saw me and said, "Hey Mike, glad you can make it. Do you need anything?"

Now, keep in mind that I met Keith just twice prior to this big event -- and it was as a reporter. The first time I spoke to him was during the 2008 NHL All Star Game when he was invited to play despite being a rookie.

I took my seat in the back of bus and thought long and hard on how Duncan remembered my name without hesitation. It was baffling to me. So I documented, wrote stories and blogged about Duncan's big day over the next six-plus hours and posted to our website on NHL.com.

At the end of the day, Duncan invited friends and family back to his house -- a beautiful place on a bank of a picturesque lake. He was doing some follow-up interviews for the television camera and then, before heading back into the house, saw me and stopped.

I thought to myself, 'OK, here it comes. Maybe he's going to tell me how he knows me.'

Sure enough, he said, "You know what Mike. I never thanked you.

"Two years ago when I earned a spot in the All Star Game, reporters were coming over and asking me if I felt I deserved to be there since I was only a rookie. If I told them yes, I'd be cocky. If I told them no, then that might have meant I didn't feel I did belong there. But when you came over, you just started talking about my season and how great it must feel to be rewarded in this way. And, really, I was relieved. So I just wanted to say Thank You."

Yes. Some hockey players really do get it!
I took my seat in the back of bus and thought long and hard on how Duncan remembered my name without hesitation. It was baffling to me. So I documented, wrote stories and blogged about Duncan's big day over the next six-plus hours and posted to our website on
NHL.com.

At the end of the day, Duncan invited friends and family back to his house -- a beautiful place on a bank of a picturesque lake. He was doing some follow-up interviews for the television camera and then, before heading back into the house, saw me and stopped.

I thought to myself, 'OK, here it comes. Maybe he's going to tell me how he knows me.'

Sure enough, he said, "You know what Mike. I never thanked you.

"Two years ago when I earned a spot in the All Star Game, reporters were coming over and asking me if I felt I deserved to be there since I was only a rookie. If I told them yes, I'd be cocky. If I told them no, then that might have meant I didn't feel I did belong there. But when you came over, you just started talking about my season and how great it must feel to be rewarded in this way. And, really, I was relieved. So I just wanted to say Thank You."

Yes. Some hockey players really do get it!

Product Details
The Scholastic Ice Hockey Playbook: Strategies of a High School Coach

offers a unique approach at dissecting the game in a way coaches, players and fans will appreciate the fundamentals of hard work while understanding the vast array of systems and formations used in today's game. I co-authored the book with Chatham High School coach Harvey Cohen.

The book reminds us that ice hockey players are also people and must be treated as such. Players must learn to respect their peers to improve their game and their overall character. The book is a guide for all skill levels and gives the reader a better understanding of the sport, its concepts and that The book reminds us that ice hockey players are also people and must be treated as such. Players must learn to respect their peers to improve their game and their overall character. The book is a guide for all skill levels and gives the reader a better understanding of the sport, its concepts and that interpersonal relationship between coach and player. The relationship between coach and player should not be taken for granted. Players must listen to their coaches and coaches must find time for their players to establish a mutual respect.




http://www.amazon.com/The-Scholastic-Ice-Hockey-Playbook/dp/059540927X#_


Go to "The Scholastic Ice Hockey Playbook: Strategies of a high school coach" page

 Special thanks to Mike for taking time out for this Syracuse hockey mom. An excellent writer, parent and hockey journalist who gets it right!



 

Monday, November 26, 2012

NF Hockey: Improving Performance in Youth Hockey Players

NF Hockey: Improving Performance in Youth Hockey Players: Setting goals for your child’s individual performance can be effective when done properly.  The purpose of setting goals is to help y...

Thursday, November 22, 2012

When Hockey Hurts

    It feels as if I have just been flattened by a giant Zamboni. We had really been looking forward to this upcoming season; Joe's glorious senior year!  We were so looking forward to hearing his name announced as a starting defensemen, being one of the team's leaders and role models for the younger team members.  I was also really looking forward to senior night and that red carpet moment on the ice, when moms are called down from the stands, given flowers and sons are given the microphone to share a letter they've penned to you on how much they appreciate what it took to get them there. Moms can't help but tearfully look at their  grown up hockey players and have flashbacks of those first wobbly attempts on the ice with tiny skates, wooden sticks and bundles of determination.  All those years of hard work and sacrifice are shared and treasured by your second family. A night you tuck away in your special memory bank.
      I was also convinced this was going to be the best year yet for Joe.  But wrist, collar bone, a hip fracture and foot injuries and surgery this year have taken their toll, to the point where it hurts too much to play.  Rather than risk a permanent disability and be in a cast for the fifth consecutive year, Joe made the very tough decision  to hang up his skates.  I know how much he enjoys the feel of the ice and the comradery of being on a team. But as Joe said to me, "Mom, it would be easier if I just went out there and risked it.  If I played and took the chance. But if I get hurt again, I will let the team down....again.   The harder thing is not to play.  And honestly mom,  I'm tired of hurting all the time."
    This boy of mine is wise beyond his 17 years. He's had a good attitude about all of this and has decided to focus his energy right now on finding a college that will be a good fit.  There's also more time for him to guide the little sister, now a Pee Wee hockey player.  It was when Joe was a Pee Wee, on the travel team, that he suffered his first injury.  Back when there was checking, his wrist snapped during a tournament game.   I just happened to come across the essay he was required to write for gym class on how he got hurt and all the impressive research he did on the fracture.  It was helpful to me back then, and I thought this could be helpful to others now,  to read what it's like from the perspective of a 12- year old,  who had to watch his team from the sidelines and be out for key weeks of the season. This is how it all began and sadly, what would eventually end his hockey career much sooner than he had hoped.   



                                                     


This past October I suffered a very bad wrist fracture during a hockey game. As I discovered during my research, the injury, called a Salter Harris II is very common among hockey players my age. We’ll begin by explaining how I got hurt.

My Pee Wee travel team was doing really well in the Columbus Weekend Tournament in Niagara Falls, New York. The first game we won 16-0! I was doing great with one goal and three assists. The next day we were all a bit tired and had a very early game. When the game started I felt good and again my team was leading on the scoreboard. Toward the middle of the second period, we had two penalties, thus being down two men. The coaches sent me back out to “kill the penalty.” Now, let me first tell you, checking is legal, which means you can knock down the player has the puck to gain possession. I went behind the net to get the man who had the puck, and checked him. I got the puck and that’s when my arm went into the boards straight on. My wrist snapped. I was in a lot of pain, but I kept on skating to kill off the penalty. I knew something was wrong, so I shot the puck to the other end and skated off the ice. When I got to the bench, everyone was patting my back because of the big “hit.” Even the coach said, “That shook the boards!” Then I told him about the pain. They rushed me to the locker room where an on-staff E.M.T. examined my wrist. When I pulled my glove off, I knew it was bad. The paramedic put a splint on my wrist and told my mom and dad we needed to go an emergency room for treatment. Instead of telling me my wrist was broken, his words were “ I want to be the first one to sign your cast.” The rest of my day involved doctors, needles, meds, a cast and a sharpie.

It was at the Buffalo Children’s Hospital I learned what type of injury I suffered and what my treatment would be. The doctor explained I had a Salter-Harris II, one of the most common fractures and it was a fracture of my left radius. While it was common, the concern was the fact it was a growth plate fracture. The growth plate is an area of developing tissue and it is the weakest area of the growing skeleton. It is near the end of the long bones in children and it determines the future length and even the shape of the adult bone. As the doctor would explain, my facture meant my bones had to be put back into place and immobilized for normal grown to continue. My injury did require X-rays to determine the fracture and decide on a treatment plan. The Buffalo doctor was an orthopedic surgeon, a doctor who specializes in bone and joint problems in children. He explained I would need to continue seeing an orthopedic surgeon in Syracuse.

After the X-Ray and diagnosis, the surgeon decided to reset the wrist. He began with long needles right where the break was and numbed the area. I still felt it when he snapped the wrist back in place. The pain was excruciating. Then he began with putting my affected limb in a full arm cast. It went from my knuckle to above my elbow to limit any movement and prevent me from moving the radius. I was told to limit all physical activity. I had to apply ice for several days to reduce the swelling.

The wrist and hand are made up of 27 bones and many ligaments, tendons and muscles. There are eight carpal bones that serve as a link between forearm and hand and that allows for motion of the wrist. My hockey gear does not completely cover my wrist and hand area and therefore was exposed and vulnerable to injury. A study by the Mayo Clinic in Rochester on hockey injuries finds this to be a fairly common injury. See Figure 2 diagram, and it shows 29 percent of the injuries observed during a hockey season for the study were fractures. The study observed injuries for my level of play, Pee Wee, and observed four fractures including two exactly like the kind I suffered. Interesting to note, the body sites most often injures were the shoulder and the arm . When a patient enters the emergency room with a broken wrist doctors have several options on how to treat the particular injury. They could put it in a cast, reset it, surgically repair it (which is very rare), or even leave it to heal on its own. This all of course depends on the seriousness of the break, and the type of break. When the cast is put on you obviously can’t move these muscles. Over time when you don’t use certain muscles they deteriorate, this is called atrophy . Smell and dead skin will also start to form, as I now know all to well. Following is a picture of the actual X-Ray; this shows a fracture of my left radius. The break was right along the developing tissue. I have had 3 different casts, a full arm hard cast (put on first day), I’ve had a short hard cast (put on 3 weeks after injury), and a short soft cast (made of an almost rubber substance. The doctors explained normally they would keep someone in a hard cast for the entire time but since I was healing so well he felt I didn’t need it. Through this entire experience everyone has been really great to me, my parents still being them corny selves, the doctors making jokes, and everyone else just seeing if I need help with anything. It has also made me very thankful for all the things I took advantage of being able to do before, like sports, video games, even eating with my left hand. All these things became difficult with the break and I am really thankful I will be able to do them again. There are some people who won’t and now that I know what it feels like I am truly sorry. I hope more people could experience this true recognition without the pain of breaking a bone. The kind side of people, I found really comes out when they saw me in a cast. They would immediately ask what happened and hoped I would feel better, and the best part was I could tell they meant every word. I have also gotten to see super heroes at work. No I don’t mean super man or bat man, I mean true super heroes, doctors and Nurses giving hope and caring for those who really need them. I hope someday I can make that kind of difference in someone’s life. Making them smile even in a hospital, that is what real heroes are like. I have also met a lot of nice people through all of this, whether they are doctors, nurses, coaches, or just concerned and kind strangers. This experience has also gave me hope, hope that people will still ask how I’m doing cast or no cast. Now of course I am trying to prevent another injury and I found that staying fit, stretching and wearing protective clothing GREATLY decreases the risk of injury. You must also avoid any physical contact when in pain because it could just result in a more severe injury. Always warm up before playing maybe jog, or do push ups. In all sports there is a risk of injury so if you are terribly afraid of being injured, maybe sports aren’t the thing for you. When you do get injured you have to be extremely careful and remember you can’t be aggressive you just have to take your time and let it heal. You almost have you have a certain mental toughness to prevent from just getting out there and playing. Although if you have a giant cast on your arm you're not going to be that tempted to play anyway. Hopefully people can learn from past mistakes and be more careful. In hockey as size increases so do injuries, which goes to show people need to be careful on what they are doing. Just because they’re 6 foot 4 doesn’t mean they have to play like an animal. I hope something has come out of reading this paper. Whether it is now you will be more careful next time, or you will just tip your hat to someone walking down the street, I just hope it puts things in perspective.


By Joey Burns
Age 12

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Clueless Hockey Mom

IF I KNEW THEN. WHAT I KNOW NOW.....




I knew in the very first moments of our very first parent meeting, I was entering a brave, new world. The coaches were talking about teaching the kids about offsides (huh?) and gear...wait a minute, shouldn't they be wearing sweaters out there? But it's so cold, and they're so little! It felt like I had  been dropped into a foreign country, with a new language to learn and a whole new culture to embrace. A life transition was about to happen.
    And yes, not ashamed to admit this, I was as clueless as they come. From suiting up my kid,  to the surprise there is no half time in this sport, to not knowing how to handle unexpected equipment snafus, like a skate blade snapping in the middle of a heated tournament! Preparing meals ahead of time, knowing how to budget and even how to dress in layers for a very long, very cold season. Whew! I think I had a hair dryer on my feet for about 20 minutes after one of our first games in an unheated rink with metal bleachers, when I thought it would be fine just to slip on a pair of sneakers, minus the socks. I paid dearly that day, and several days to follow.  So the knee pads, go underneath the socks? How exactly do they stay up?



While it was pretty overwhelming that first year, I was fortunate to have a lot of help along the way. I always had a tough time getting my son’s laces tight enough, until a mom taught me the trick of lacing up with a skate key. I also very quickly learned why it is so important to get the wet gear out of the bag as soon as you're home and air it out, if you stand any chance of keeping the stench to at least a tolerable level. Oh, and if you're going to invest in a wheeled hockey bag? Make sure you pick them up when you're going across the parking lots. The salt and chemically treated lots and sidewalks can eat a hole in the bottom of those bags. I found that out the hard way and lost a neck guard somewhere in a Buffalo hockey rink parking lot.

I think I've almost got it nailed now, 10 years later, and now in the blink of an eye, Joe is sadly hanging up his hockey skates, yet another injury preventing him from playing his senior year. Heart breaker. Wish he could have had that final year of High School hockey.  My 11-year old daughter, who has been playing hockey since the age of three, is now reaping the benefits of all the knowledge we picked up along the way. But I think back to that first year. If I only knew then, what I knew now about this sport. Grateful I had a lot of seasoned parents our first year, who gave great guidance, especially about the emotional side of hockey; how to not get discouraged when the season is filled with losses, chippy kids, and obnoxious parents. Sit in the stands and enjoy the moments. They go by so fast!  I can honestly say the bright moments far outnumber the dark ones. How about you? Got some advice you would like to share about this challenging, surprising and incredibly rewarding sport?

Monday, November 19, 2012

More than a Hockey Game!

Liverpool hockey team to hold benefit game for Baldwinsville student hurt in crash



Liverpool (WSYR-TV) -- Tryouts are over, players have been chosen and high school hockey is about to begin. And one local team wants to win more than a game when the season opens.
Liverpool's High School Hockey team is beginning the season with an added goal in mind – an assist to Kelly Gleason, a Baldwinsville High School student who was injured in a crash that killed her mom last month.
  “It's just that she's 16 and you never know when your life can change in an instant. I can't imagine growing up without your mom, it's got to be so hard,” said hockey player Kyle Broughton.

Broughton came up with the idea to turn their season opener into an opportunity to raise money for the Gleason family.

“I think it hit home with a lot of these kids, they’re just starting to drive, they drive with their families quite a bit and we want to give back to the community and help a family going through a tough time, since we do play in Baldwinsville for our home games,” said Liverpool High School Hockey Coach Chris Mathes.

The players are getting skilled fundraising support from their moms and dads, who are eager to help.

“Hockey is another family. We call it another religion,” said parent Suzanne Kozikoski.

“It’s only two to three dollars, it’s not much, so come out and support the cause. It’s easy,” Broughton continued.

They know it isn’t going to be easy for Kelly Gleason and her family, but they’re hoping she takes comfort in knowing the team wants to do what it can to help her push forward and heal.

The game is Tuesday, November 27 at 7 p.m. at the Greater Baldwinsville Ice Arena’s red rink. Admission is three dollars for adults and two dollars for students. 100 percent of that money will be donated to the Gleason family. The goal is to get 1,000 people to come out to the game.


Friday, November 16, 2012

Hockey Team Assists Family




- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Delicious Nutritious Meals for the Hockey Season

      No question it's a challenge during this crazy busy hockey season to get get the kids fed and make it to practice on time.  Hockey mom Tammy Vivlamore offers up some great meal ideas.  Thanks Tammie! Dig in!   

Crockpots and Coolers for a long hockey day!

Amy Colclough mentioned in her article, “Crockpot Commandos” (USA Hockey Magazine’s October 2012 issue), that Crockpot meals and stocked coolers are both a time and money saver for hockey families during hockey season. I thought I would add an assist or two to her two goals by offering a couple of my family’s favorites for both the Crockpot and the cooler.

First Assist

This is an absolute favorite for my family. A friend of mine who has a family member that is not fond of carbohydrates also found that it pleases her family also.

Tip-in Taco Soup

This recipe is a hat-trick as far as Crockpot meals go. First goal- It is easy to make. Just put your ingredients in the Crockpot and turn it on. Second goal- It is versatile. You can interchange ingredients such as meats or proteins used. Add or remove vegetables to your family’s taste. Choose from a variety of bean types such as kidney, chili, black bean or a combination of beans. Third goal- It is inexpensive. The basic recipe costs only pennies per serving.

So what are the basic ingredients? One pound of ground beef, turkey or chicken, one large bottle of tomato juice, one packet of taco seasoning, one can of beans (kidney, chili, black or a combination), one can of corn. Brown the meat or protein according to basic standard directions. Add all ingredients, including any extra veggies you may want to add, to the Crockpot. Turn on your Crockpot and go to hockey for the day. When you get home your house will smell so good!

My family likes when I line the bowl with tortilla chips, put sour cream and shredded cheese on top. You can increase the ingredients to make more for a larger family or if you would like to have it the next day also. As a matter of fact, it tastes even better the next day!

Second Assist

What do you pack in your cooler? A very dear friend of mine has the essentials in her cooler. Water, carrots and celery, dip, fruit, sandwiches. After a long season of hockey wouldn’t it be fun to mix up the lines a little. Try a few of these suggestions

The Biscuit is the Basket

Instead of boring old sandwiches again, take a shot at something a little different. Take a package of refrigerator biscuits, roll the biscuits flat. Put a little Thousand Island or Russian dressing on the biscuit. Place some ham, turkey, salami on the biscuit, then a piece of cheese. Roll up the biscuit and bake until golden brown. Make as many different varieties as you like. They are good hot or cold and do well in the cooler. Plus they are way more fun to eat than a boring sandwich.

Mixing up the fruit line

Fresh fruit is an awesome thing to have in your cooler. Again after a long season, plain fruit get, dare I say it, boring. What do you do to change up this line a little? Well, remember all those coffee travel mugs you have stuffed in the cabinets? Here’s an idea that might get them some use and make the fruit not so boring. Freeze the coffee mugs overnight. In the morning, cut up your favorite fruit into bite size chunks, place them in the cold coffee travel mugs. Add a little fruit juice such as lemon or white grape juice to help keep the fruit fresh. Close the lid tight and pack in the cooler.

Last 10 seconds of the game

These recipes and ideas are versatile and can be suited to your family’s taste. There are many other wonderful recipes and ideas that ca n help you shutout the need for fast food and pricy restaurants. Just talk to a fellow hockey parent, especially a veteran, to see how they handle long drives and tournaments. A little off-ice prep can save time and money for any hockey family.


-Tammie Vivlamore
Hockey Mom

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Hockey Parents as Team Players




Wanted: Reliable parents to work weekends in cold conditions. Must be a good organizer, willing to answer phone calls in the middle of dinner, and keep the peace with dozens of well-meaning, opinionated hockey parents. No pay!

Coaches shouldn’t have to take out ads, but it seems every year fewer parents are willing or able to step up and pitch in for the team. Given current economic conditions, many parents are working longer hours and even two jobs, and have less free time to give. But as my wise Italian mother would say after our big Sunday dinners, as we sat there with stuffed bellies, piled up dishes, pots and pans, “Many hands make light work.” She would assign each of us a cleanup duty. Before we knew it, all six of us were out in the yard, getting in some last-minute play before the sun settled for the night.

That same simple theory can help your coach run the team, when parents provide assists. The trick is finding the role that is right for you. If you’re level headed, a good organizer and don’t mind fielding phone calls during the week from parents, consider the role of team parent. That job consists of everything the coach doesn’t have time to do. Sound overwhelming? You don’t have to go it alone; take advantage of the diverse talents and skills of moms and dads. You might be surprised how willing parents are to help when given a clear and specific role.

Parents who travel a lot might be able to wheel and deal team discounts for hotels and restaurants. Store managers might be able to score plates, cups or deserts for a tournament or team parties. I loved the year a parent with a printing company made wallet sized laminated cards with everybody’s cell phone number and e-mail address.

Skills in the kitchen can come in handy when your team needs to whip up meals for tournaments and fundraisers. I will caution though, sometimes finding the right role can come by trial and error. For example, running the clock for a game takes a very brave soul. You’ll find out very quickly if you can handle it the first time you mess up on the penalty minutes and become the object of ridicule and angry shouts from the stands, “Clock! Clock!” If you can turn a deaf ear to it, you will find yourself with the best seat in the house!

When kids see parents working hard for the team, parents in turn may see that same spirit and enthusiasm translate on the ice.

                                                       Cheers to Hockey Moms everywhere!

Stan Fischler reviews The Puck Hog 2


Fischler Sunday Column
By Stan Fischler

 
With the National Hockey League season in an unfortunately -- big understatement -- deep freeze, followers of the sliding puck have to find there jollies elsewhere.
If you want to see the ice game, live there's plenty of action just up the Thruway where the Albany Devils compete in a very high-class American League that's sprinkled for the duration with NHLers.
Likewise, there's plenty of rip-roarin' college hockey around and if you want a compact-sized version all you have to do is drop over to the Kiwanis Rink in Saugerties where the kids play.

You'll never hear me diminish kids hockey as a tantalizingly fun sport to watch especially when the lads and lassies are in the eight to twelve-year range and are mostly stickhandling and shooting for the fun of it.  There are no scouts around just parents and friends rooting them on and, of course, hoping that no one gets hurt, physically or psychologically.

 Occasionally emotions can soar out of hand because -- of all the competitive sports -- hockey can get heated faster than a new toaster-oven.

Nobody knows more about hot ice than hockey moms and pops which brings me to the ultimate hockey mom-broadcaster-writer, Christie Casciano, who camps just up the road in Syracuse.

 When Christie isn't doing TV news for WSYR and helping her kids, 17-year-old Joe and 11-year-old Sophia, grow up, she sits in front of a keyboard and writes books for children, while also penning a monthly advice column for USA Hockey Magazine.

And is this gal ever focused.

She's done two books so far for the young set and both are about hockey. In fact they have virtually the same title: Puck Hog One and Puck Hog Two.

 Not surprisingly Puck Hog Volume Two: Haunted Hockey in Lake Placid just hit the bookstores after a most successful run for the original. Each of Casciano's books bears mighty messages; which means that it wouldn't hurt for a hockey parent to peruse either of the Puck Hog volumes.

 There’s so much pressure on the kids from the parents. It really squeezes the fun out of the whole experience when kids’ parents are overzealous.” Casciano tells my associate, Allyson Gronowitz. “The best seasons are the ones in which the coaches are directing kids in the right way and the parents are supportive and not so critical.”

 When kids read the book, they can comprehend in their own terms the importance of playing to have fun, not playing to win at all costs. That’s what motivated me to come out with the second book.”

Casciano’s sister, Rose Mary Casciano Moziak, did the nifty illustrations for both Puck Hog installments. Another sister, Teresa Marzec, can be found at the Kiwanis rink, a fact of which I'm aware because Teresa asked me some of the best hockey questions when I lectured there a couple of summers ago.

A family visit to Lake Placid—home to the memorable 1980 Miracle on Ice—provided Casciano with even more motivation to compose a second installment.

“We’ve been to so many hockey tournaments all over New York state and Canada, but I thought the most incredible tournament we ever experienced was in Lake Placid,” she explains. “It’s magical.”

 “For the kids, stepping on the ice where their heroes played sends chills down their spines,” says Casciano. “And I’m not just talking about the temperature!”

The inspirational setting has a thematic connection to the story as well. Casciano: “Believing in yourself is what Miracle was all about. The 1980 team was just this ragtag American group; no one thought they had a chance, but they never gave up believing. I want kids to internalize that, too.”

One of the neat aspects of Christie's work is the fervent support she received from Howard Dolgon, who owns the AHL's Syracuse Crunch. At one of Casciano's autograph sessions in a Syracuse suburb Dolgon sent two of his top players to help draw a crowd. As it happened, people were lined up in the store to see the stickhandlers and buy a book.

 If there's one aspect of the Puck Hogs that piqued my curiosity, it's all about the author's view of fighting on ice. After all, at any given Crunch game you're apt to hear a couple of skaters shout "Do ya wanna go?" Then, the gloves are dropped and the fists fly.

 “I’m not a fan of the fighting; I wish it would end,” Casciano admits. “I would love it if the professional hockey players would focus more on playing the game of hockey. I think they would get legions of fans just based on their incredible skill.”

 
With two Puck Hogs in the books, where does Christie go from here?

 “I want to write a third book to make it a whole series. What adventure will the puck team go on next?”

Whatever it is, you can bet I’ll be tagging along for the ride!



 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Haunted Hockey Scores with Coaches!

            Coaches Review Haunted Hockey in Lake Placid                       

by Mark Benedetto
CNY Hockey Coach


If you are a youth hockey fan then this book is a must read!
The book is a great continuation and expansion on the first “Puck Hog”, focusing on Eddie who still torments his team mates with his hockey style and personality. The new twist of playing in Lake Placid ups the ante for all the players. The setting is in the “Miracle” town of Lake Placid where hockey dreams are born. I have had the privilege of playing and coaching hockey in Lake Placid on several occasions. The book delves into the ultimate hockey travel destination with all the great on and off ice activities associated with a hockey tournament--playing pond hockey on Mirror Lake, swimming in the hotel pool, visiting the Olympic venues, walking the town and seeing all that there is to offer. It brought back many fond memories of great hockey experiences with my parents, team mates and my sons. If you have never visited Lake Placid for a hockey trip the Puck Hog will take your there!

Another area of the book that hit home with me was the influence of parents on their children. The Puck Hog touches on the negative influences of parental involvement; parent vs. player, parent vs. coach, team mate vs. team mate. Coaching for 15 years I have seen too much of this and the outcomes are never good. Hockey (any sport/activity) is supposed to be fun for the kids; that is the goal!


How does Sophia handle the diversity? Can they win the championship game? Who is Argus? Will Eddie be able to play the game? Read the Puck Hog volume 2 and find out for yourself!

Look who I ran into at the 1980 Rink during my last visit to Lake Placid:













The Hockey Song, For The Love Of The Game, by Jon Abrams