Sunday, November 23, 2014

Life lessons in The Puck Hog

Life lessons in The Puck Hog

In your life experiences, how many times have you encountered the time hog, attention hog, or just plain hog?
In hockey, that person is the puck hog; the one skater who sees their role as star, scorer, winner.
How many times have your sons or daughters in pee-wee, mite or junior teams just wanted to stop playing their game stand at the boards or sit on the bench as their own personal puck hog has skated up and down the ice with nary a thought to passing the puck?The Puck Hog Cover
Or maybe even your own rec league game has its version of the puck hog.
Well, I know have seen it but Christie Casciano has taken the reaction to the level of writing about her puck hog experiences.
In The Puck Hog, Casciano takes the reader to the ice arena with her cast of characters including the book’s lead, Sophia, and the dreaded puck hog, Eddie!!
The author, Christie Casciano
Casciano has created a series of The Puck Hog (including volume 2) as a means to teach life lessons. As she says in the book’s preamble and back cover, Sophia (her daughter) and her team face challenges from opposing teams and from within their own side.
Eddie is the classic puck hog scoring half of the team’s goals in a season but never adds to the scoresheet with an assist. NEVER! as his teammates discover.
The Puck Hog (and its sequel) is a great platform for subtle messages and life lessons for the aspiring hockey player in your family. The first of the two-book series follows Sophia and her team through a season as it tries to resolve the conflict between the players and their puck hog.
There is that first glimmer of hope as the first book closes when Eddie acknowledges that “perfect pass” from Sophia for the championship-winning goal. But there is a sense that the puck hog has not learned the life lesson. That’s for Volume 2 of The Puck Hog.
The second book in the series has Sophia, her teammates and their puck hog graduating to Squirts. It is here that Eddie remains the team’s internal nemesis despite their success in the standings.
Volume 2 is subtitled Haunted Hockey in Lake Placid and rather than spoil the storyline let’s leave it as a mystery within the book’s broader lesson plan.
Sophia’s team heads to Lake Placid for a tournament that includes the much-feared Canadian team.
Eddie is still the puck hog but we are drawn along the storyline that has Casciano revealing frailty in Eddie that leads to the book’s pivotal moment of redemption for Eddie and celebration for Sophia and the team.The Puck Hog 2 Cover
In a gentle, but not so subtle manner Casciano has all the ingredients for what makes a puck hog including a domineering parent, in this case Eddie’s father who shouts demands and jeers for his son from the stands in both books.
In effect, Casciano has two life lessons, one for the puck hog and one for the parent. And by the end of the second book, son and father have their own epiphanies with recognition, growth and redemption presented for the reader.
Neither volume of The Puck Hog is syrupy, preachy or whiny. Instead, Casciano treats her target audience as young adults and offers them the problem, the process to resolution and the adult reaction to the redemption of Eddie and his father. There are no “I told you so’s” there is only welcoming of Eddie to “the team” as teammate.
And of course, there is Sophia’s mystery but you need to get the book for this little treasure of a back story.
Open today’s newspaper or latest Twitter feed and you will certainly see some report of poor behavior on or off the ice or field of play. Teaching moments are plentiful but how does one engrain good contact, sportsmanship or the concept of “the team”? That is where Christie Casciano’s The Puck Hog (both volumes!) comes in. This is a well-conceived and well-written pair of books that make the lessons easy to read for children and easy for the hockey players’ parents to respond to and enhance.
Rose Mary Casciano Moziak’s illustration rendition
The author Christie Casciano is an anchor with WSYR television in Syracuse, NY. The Puck Hog was illustrated by Rose Mary Casciano Moziak, Christie’s sister.
Both volumes of The Puck Hog are available through the publisher, North Country Books, Inc (
Contact Christie through Twitter @ccasciano

Friday, November 21, 2014

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Tip for Team Dinners Out

      It helps to plan. It's no fun showing up announced with a crowd of parents, siblings and sixteen sweaty hockey players. Especially when you're out of town, between games, and pressed for time.  Hats off to our coach this weekend who called a few days before our double matchup in Glens Falls. He secured a room at a restaurant with a reputation for good food and being very accommodating.

   We were seated as soon as we arrived, giving all of us parents chance to warm our chilled bones and giving the players a chance to heat up the Foosball table and do a little off- ice team bonding.


    We ordered off the menu with separate checks using  our player's jersey number. This allowed our players, parents and siblings to sit at different tables. It also cut down on the time waiting to figure out who owes what.

                         So we all got back to the rink in plenty of time for our second game.

                                                     Which ended in another tie. Sigh.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Concussion Care Can be Challenging for Parents

Concussion Care Challenges for Parents
as seen in USA Hockey Magazine Nov.2014

     Given what we’ve learned about the long-term damage of concussions,  I wish I could wrap my hockey player in bubble wrap.  There was a time when I rarely heard about concussions. But now?  There isn’t a season that goes by that I haven’t either witnessed a bad head injury or sat next to a parent  whose kid was out with one.
      West Springfield, Ma. Hockey mom Tiffany Basile  learned  about  concussions  in the hardest way possible for any mom. Her daughter ‘s talent and passion as a goalie put her on the radar with colleges and coaches.  Kaylee’s was riding high in her senior year, until her head suffered a blow when the opposing team stormed the net.  She was out with a concussion for a week.  A second hit to the head  that  took a real toll.  Kaleigh’s eyes couldn’t follow a pen, her balance was off.  She failed every computer brain test. When feelings of anxiety and depression set in, an MRI was ordered.  During the test,  Kaleigh suffered a seizure and  results confirmed what Basile had feared.  The risk of Kaleigh going back out on the ice, was too great.  “Breaking the news that she could never play again was horrible and heartbreaking.” But Basile says there simply was no option. “ It was best for her to steer clear of any activities that can risk more harm and inury. Her health and safety are first.” Basile advises parents to get educated about the signs and symptoms and educate your kids as best you can, “ I’m thankful to have my daughter with me after all she has been through.”

  Hockey dad Greg Jewett, also a phys ed teacher for Christian Brothers Academy in Syracuse, N.Y.  raises concerns about protocol, especially  when it comes to returning to the ice after  a concussion. Last season’s Pee Wee coach was very supportive when his son, Alec, missed practices after suffering a mild concussion. But do all coaches feel that way?  Since it is not monitored by a school, it is a slippery slope. “ I think that youth hockey organizations should adopt the impact testing that high schools use as a way to measure brain activity and if a player is ready to return,” says Jewett.  “ But there are no trainers on site, no testing in place and this is a problem for youth hockey going forward.”
    Jewett raises a valid point that without a known protocol for an organization, it is difficult to enforce any rules and players often return too soon whether it be peer, coaching or parental influence to return to the ice too soon.

  Concussion care is challenging.  While we can’t reach for the bubble wrap , we can wrap ourselves in knowledge, seek timely medical treatment  and work on helping our teams develop protocol on when it’s safe for kids to suit up again.


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Hockey Family Meal Planning

   Take two parents who work full time, add hockey playing children, a cup of after-school activities, a dose of volunteer work, a pound of housework and what have you got? The recipe for a nightly dinner dilemma!  What’s a hockey family to do? The crockpot just may ease your hockey season indigestion. By simply dumping everything into the slow cooker in the morning, dinner is ready for your family in time for late-night hockey practices. Bam! You’ve just saved yourself time, money and whipped up a healthful alternative to the fast food pit-stop. 
   No question it works for hockey families by adding the much needed ingredient of comfort to a long, cold and sometimes stressful season. 
Here are a few of our favorite recipes.

Recipes by Syracuse Nationals Hockey mom Kim Tretowicz
Crock Pot Buffalo Chicken Wing Dip

2 (8 ounce) package of cream cheese
3-4 boneless chicken breasts, cooked and diced
1 cup Frank’s hot sauce
1 cup ranch dressing
1 cup blue cheese dressing
1 cup sour cream
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
3-4 stalks of chopped celery ( add to dip or serve on the side)

1.       Combine all ingredients into crock pot
2.       Reserve some cheddar cheese for the top
3.       Cook on low for 2 hours
4.       Just before serving, add the reserved cheese to the top and allow to melt

Pot Roast:

31/2-4 pounds of Chuck Roast
1 onion quartered and sliced
6 carrots, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
6 medium potatoes, quartered and halved

1.       Brown roast over medium heat on top of range. Season if desired. Transfer to crockpot
2.       Place onion, carrots, & potatoes around roast. Add ½ cup of water. Season with Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, etc.
3.       Cover and cook on low 6-8 hours

A plea to hockey parents: don’t be your kid’s worst enemy | Post-to-Post

A plea to hockey parents: don’t be your kid’s worst enemy | Post-to-Post