Monday, December 31, 2018

Ice Time Woes

In a tightly contested game as things were coming down to the wire, it dawned on us.
“Hey, uh.. Where’s our kid?”

As we edged closer to the ends of our seats and tensed up with every shot on net, it wasn’t obvious at first. But after every whistle or stoppage of play, it was the first line trotting out to the drop of the puck. As winded as they seemed, it became clear to us that they would be the ones to see this game through to its conclusion.

Welcome to travel hockey. Gone were the days of equal playing time for all, the “fun at all costs” mentality was a thing of the past. We were here to get the win, and the coach would do whatever it took to put the team in a position to do so.

Perhaps it was our ego that got bruised more than our kids. Not only did they roll with the punches, they punched back, stepping up their game and eventually working to becoming that players the coach counted on for penalty kills and tight end of game scenarios.

Every parent wants their child to get as much as time as any other kid, and in the early stages, they should. Making players better is the name of the game and that is achieved through maximizing ice time. As players age and the emphasis on winning grows, that equal division of the ice time pie falls by the wayside.

Syracuse, NY hockey mom Lauren Knapp says sometimes you need to work on changing attitudes and telling their kids, ”Don't get bitter, get better. Show the coach you care and are willing to do what it takes to get that playing time."

Monica Hudak Headley is on the same page, "When my son doesn't think he's getting equal ice time, I have him ask the coach what he wants my son to work on. This way it's not whining about not getting enough ice time, it's showing the coach you want to do better."

At the end of the day, not everyone can be on the ice to close out a game and not every player wants the immense pressure that comes with those situations. Often times, our players have a greater understanding of this than we do as parents. They put the team first and know late in the game, it’s just as important to be there to cheer for their teammates. The best thing we can do is cheer right along with them.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Friday, September 7, 2018

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Real Time Hockey

Real Time Hockey - Media Outlet

Hockey Season Startup Checklist

-Christie Casciano
Ask any prizefighter – or even any good hockey player – and he or she will tell you: the fight is won not in the ring, but in the months of preparation beforehand.  So while it will be incumbent upon your young skater to diligently practice, prepare, and position him or herself for success, we as parents can set a good example. 

Equipment Check

Check the gear from head to toe, toe to head, and every neutral zone in between. Chances are your hockey player grew a little, and maybe even grew out of some of his or her gear. It’s not just a matter of comfort, but safety too. Good coverage can help protect players and avoid injury from board collisions, sticks, and pucks. Not sure if you can get another year out of the gear? Auburn, NY hockey mom Jackie Reilly makes a trip to her local retail hockey store, and has them judge what’s good and what needs to be replaced. She also picks up spare blades, laces, sock tape, mouth guards, and stick tape. Then it’s off to the drug store to stock up on ibuprofen and wipes. It all gets packed in a travel crate stored in her Suburban – along with hoodies, blankets, gloves, spare shirts, books, and odor ban travel spray.

Control Your Corner

As big or bad as any fighter may be, as talented as he or she may be, a prizefighter is only as good as his or her trainer (remember where Rocky was before Mickey taught him to eat lightning and … dispense with the thunder?).  So as the person in charge of the corner, make sure your crew knows the rules. School comes first, and sticking to that solid sleep schedule is important too. Other sports, family time, rest, and relaxation need to be in your lives too. Hockey may be a passion, but don’t overdue it. 

The Weigh In

The preseason team meeting can be one of the most important events of the
season. It will help you determine costs, travel plans, goals for the team, the coach’s philosophy, and give you a chance to develop a good relationship with the coach. Don’t skip it! It takes a team to run a team, so don’t be afraid to get on board with tackling a new role, like team manager. You just may get hooked!

Gut Check

Hockey mom friend Sharon Enck – aka “Puckgal” – has a heart to heart with her goalie daughter before the start of each season, asking things like what she’s excited and nervous about. What does she want to work on this season? “Of course, I don’t interrogate her all at once because she would probably just clam up if I did,” says Enck. ”I drop these questions in during a car ride or on a walk to get the ‘real’ answers.” Enck says that gut check helps her figure out the best way to steer the season. She also does the nose a favor with a good old fashioned sterilization of smelly equipment. The motto for her entourage? “Begin fresh and end filthy.” It may not have the same panache as Burgess Meredith’s infamous line to Rocky, but the sentiment remains – put in the time before you get ready to rumble, and you and yours will be able to proclaim to Adrian and everybody, “Yo, I did it!”
Hockey mom Christie Casciano Burns is a columnist for USA Hockey Magazine and has a new book out this week, My Kids Play Hockey, available on Target.comWalmart.comBarnes and Noble stores and

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Christie Casciano Takes The Stress Out Of Being A Hockey Mom

Christie Casciano Takes The Stress Out Of Being A Hockey Mom: For many families in the area, back to school also means back to sports for kids. Rigorous schedules of all kinds can mean more stress for parents, but News Channel 9 Anchor and 'My Kids Play Hockey' Author Christie Casciano says it doesn't have to be.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Humboldt Strong

My 16 year old hockey player needed to write an essay for school today. Here it is.

Humboldt Strong

by Sophia Burns

On April 6, 2018 tragedy struck and my heart shattered when I learned of a
Canadian junior hockey team involved in a fatal bus crash. 17 lives were lost and
13 were injured. It hit close to home.

Every year when winter rolls around, and it's time for my favorite sports
season, I get on a coach bus with 18 of my best friends for our travel games.

Blasting music, watching movies like Miracle on Ice, Slapshot, and Mighty Ducks,
long naps and messing with the first teammate to fall fast asleep.

Getting on the bus after a tough loss, that seemingly only brings us closer together
as we ride in silence, knowing we gave it our all.

The sweetest of victories against rivals, where we are singing Sweet Caroline at the
top of our lungs, as our coach shields his ears during our
terrible high-pitched off- key singing.

The rides back on Sunday nights from the long weekend trips in which we all
scramble to get the homework assignments finished, helping each other out
to get them done.

Some of my best memories happened on these bus trips; teammates
turned into sisters and fun times turned into life long memories.

There comes a time in every hockey players career when they have to hang up
their skates, hand in their jersey, and suit up for the last time.

But, no hockey player ever imagines the last time will be the time when you step
on a bus... on the way to a game.

What happened to the Humboldt Broncos is unimaginable...truly devastating
to those of us in the hockey community.

This Band of Brothers were robbed of their childhoods, and from each other,
but the one thing that could never be taken from them was the bond that they all
had together. Supportive of one another, surviving or passed, nothing could ever
break the bonds that these boys have for one another.

Being on a team, you go through the most heartbreaking of times,
but also the happiest of your lives. Going through something like this,
you start to question what good could come out of something so tragic.

For Ryan Straschnitzki, he has been keeping a positive outlook and
striving to make a good situation a possible outcome from such devastation.

Ryan Straschnitzki was among the surviving players in the crash,
but not nearly without a scratch.

Ryan went through a seven-hour long surgery, in which rods were placed in his back,
and fluids were removed from his lungs,
where there was bleeding. It is very unlikely that he will walk again,
let alone be able to skate. Instead on dwelling on this,

Ryan is already thinking ahead to the alternative. He will be joining sled hockey
and will hopefully be on the Olympic team.

I will definitely be rooting for him, and watching him play.

Rest in Peace boys, skate forever in happiness. #HumboldtStrong

Friday, March 30, 2018

NewsChannel 9 anchor and her daughter promote literacy at Allen Road

NewsChannel 9 anchor and her daughter promote literacy at Allen Road: In the era of tablets and smartphones, it can be hard to convince children to pick up an old fashioned book.

 In the era of tablets and smartphones, it can be hard to convince children to pick up an old fashioned book.
Thursday night, NewsChannel 9 anchor and children’s book author Christie Casciano and her hockey playing daughter, Sophia, visited Allen Road Elementary in the North Syracuse school district to promote literacy.
While they were there, Casciano and her daughter not only discussed children’s books, they shared the importance of coping mechanisms for dealing with common struggles on sports teams, as well at the importance of teamwork.
“Literacy is important for any children of any age. It doesn't matter what their challenges are or what their strengths are, they love books, they love non-fiction books, they love sports books,” said first-grade teacher Tricia Burns.

The event – organized by the Allen Road PTO -- included a spring book fair.

NewsChannel 9 anchor and her daughter promote literacy at Allen Road

NewsChannel 9 anchor and her daughter promote literacy at Allen Road: In the era of tablets and smartphones, it can be hard to convince children to pick up an old fashioned book.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Taking the Plunge....Again

By Caroline Stanistreet

When I was a kid, there was nothing more exciting than heading to our club pool, swimming at team practice, and then waiting until the pool opened at 11 am for the entire day. The Almighty diving board beckoned, and my friends and I would spend hours performing all varieties of dives, flips, and of course, cannon balls (except when we were rudely interrupted for 15 minutes by “Adult Swim,” sigh…).

After my country club’s swim experience ended, I began attending, then working at, an overnight YMCA camp in the mid 1970s. Naturally, there were plenty of swimming opportunities for me, but this time it was on vast and beautiful Millsite Lake. There, I learned waterskiing, sailing, and even snorkeling, but the biggest thrill of all was taking a boat to the opposite side of the lake, crawling and climbing my way up a 30-foot cliff, then jumping off some jagged rocks into the dark water below. I thought I was invincible - especially since I was donned in my swimsuit, cutoffs, and navy-faded, trail-worn Converse sneakers, so my feet wouldn’t smack against the water nor get cut open in the nearby rocks. We would jump like it was an effortless feat, and back then, well, at least to me and my cliff-loving colleagues - it was just another fun experience at Camp.

Then came lifeguarding jobs and water safety instruction, and there was usually a diving board nearby.  More fun for me!  Combine that with 8 years of high school and collegiate swimming, and thankfully I never experienced pool burnout. The cool thing about our college pool was that it had a separate diving well with two 1-meter boards, and one 3-meter board. My talented housemate was on the diving team and performed the most amazing flips and twists with barely a splash. Sometimes after our swim practice, I’d head over to “the well” and stand on the end of the 3-meter board and simply jump in, knowing that an attempt at something stupid off that board would likely end in some nasty bruising and endless teasing and laughter from my diver housemate and swim teammates.

Fast forward to now, where I can be found swimming at our local Y about 3 times a week. I’m almost always there on “My Sunday,” which is my hour and a half away from work/family/dogs/life to enjoy that precious alone time, usually in Lane 3.

On the Y’s monthly competitive pool calendar, I’ve noticed the 1-meter diving board was open from Noon-1 p.m. on My Sunday. Well now, wouldn’t that be fun to re-live my childhood diving prowess after a swim workout? Why, of course! So, I strategically planned a 30-minute swim at Noon (sharp!) then I’d spend the remaining half-hour doing what I thought I did best, demonstrating to the world my awesome, signature inward dive. Ah, such a daredevil am I! 


I stepped up the 3 rungs and stared down at the long, gritty, sea foam green behemoth.
I timidly shuffled a few feet down to the adjustment wheel and spun it forward with my foot to avoid any extra bounciness. Then I ever so gingerly walked to the end, which started sagging, just like my confidence. I looked down at the shimmering water below, and I might as well have been back on that 30-foot cliff or at the end of the 3-meter board looking down at “the well.” I continued to shake and was about to “about-face,” but then, an angel appeared.

Along came Alice, a senior citizen who knows no fear. She and her friend Bill show up to use that board faithfully every Sunday, chamois in hand, to dive, and dive some more (Alice even flips, I kid you not). She took one look at the terror in my face and said, “I’ve seen this all before honey, just take a practice jump!”

Practice jump? Who in their right mind “practices” on this thing?
(Sorry, Alice, but this is NOT practice, this is SURVIVAL)

My ego, quite deflated by now, told me to humbly obey her orders and just get it the heck over with. So I turned around and just stood there, shivering, with my toes curled over the end of the monster. I took just a moment to recite a quick Hail Mary, and performed what we called at our club pool “The Dead Man’s Walk” - just step off the end with arms at one’s sides - so that one step I took - and with little fanfare.

Plunk! Bubble bubble bubble.....

I popped right back up to the surface (all thanks to The Good Lord giving me the wonderful gift of extreme buoyancy). Alice applauded and exclaimed, “you did it!” - just like a schoolteacher would say to a child after reciting her ABCs. That inner child in me beamed with pride. I looked up at her, smiled, and thanked her, then thanked God again, knowing that surviving that first leap was truly was a miracle in my mind.

So now, part of My Sundays are spent “at the board” with new friends Alice and Bill. I watch with admiration Bill’s careful practice jumps and Alice’s skill to easily balance with heels hanging at the end of the board, all before doing a back flip. Their unique ability to thwart any fear of height or potential pain - and as senior citizens - is amazing to me.

I continue to overcome that strange anxiety I developed from simply NOT diving off a diving board in almost 35 years. Currently, my repertoire consists of a solid forward jump and a front swan dive from a few steps back and little - or very little - bounce.  That signature inward of mine is being slowly “revisited.”  While my diving list is fairly short, each week I get a bit surer of myself, as there is still a lot of fight left in me. But, I can promise you this...those navy Converse sneakers will never, ever, EVER see the heights - or depths - of Millsite Lake again.

Friday, February 16, 2018

When To Cut The Hockey Cord

As seen in USA Hockey Magazine
I can't help but feel we hockey parents tend to have it worse than others. How are we supposed to keep our kids safe as they try to learn such a difficult sport like hockey? We never want to see them fall on the ice, take a hit from an opponent or feel the letdown of a tough loss.
And perhaps because we don't have control over things like that we try to combat it, in small ways by yelling at coaching decisions that WE don't agree with, making sure WE put on their gear and lace up their skates, and that WE lug around that giant hockey bag.
But while we are looking out for our kids, it's easy to overlook when we've gone too far. After all, the point of playing sports is for kids to have fun and learn-whether it's about being part of a team, overcoming adversity or accomplishing something that once seemed impossible.
I remember when my daughter Sophia's Squirt coach informed her that it was time to cut the cord with dad, and lace up those skates on her own.
Panic immediately set in. She was convinced only her dad could get her skates tight enough, and if they weren't tight enough, she wasn't going to be good enough. 
As a parent, it's only sensible to feel, "I can quell those fears, so why not just keep tying those skates myself?"
But as Charice Wilczynski, a coach in suburban Chicago, points out, there are big lessons for your kiddos to learn by accomplishing the smallest of tasks.
"In order to teach our young skaters about the power of resilience, we must embrace the lessons and struggles we see around the rink as a road map to the path of success, both in the sport of ice hockey and in life itself," Wilczynski says. 
You might think you are "saving the day" by rushing home after a piece of equipment your player should have packed, but in reality, you may not be doing them any favors.
"A hockey player will learn to pack his/her own hockey bag much more carefully after sitting in the stands as a consequence for forgetting equipment the first time, rather than relying on parents to take care of everything all the time," Wilczynski says.
So what is the age of independence for our young hockey players to carry their own bags and tie their own skates? When I tossed it out to veteran hockey followers on Facebook, the general consensus seemed to be at the 10 & Under level.
"Most parents make the little kids skates so tight, the ankle can't move and it becomes a comfort feel for the kid," says Malta, N.Y., hockey dad Greg Bunt.
Fortunately for us, switching to waxed laces seemed to-at least in Sophia's mind and feet-get "the right" tight feel. It was a small step, but it ultimately helped her blossom as a player, and then so much more. 

Christie Casciano reads to kids at Minoa Elementary School

Christie Casciano reads to kids at Minoa Elementary School: Today was all about reading and the kids beat their challenge of reading 150,000 minutes by reading more than 170,000!

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

One of our Girls makes ESPN's Top Ten Plays!

  This awesome goal from one of our players on the Skaneateles Girls High School hockey team, Megan Teachout, will be shown during the ESPN-W Top 10 Plays Segment! Way to go Meg!

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

The Stink Monster

(As seen in USA Hockey Magazine January 2018)
Just like players, hockey parents must earn their stripes -- lugging around equipment, early ice times, holidays sacrificed for the sake of driving to and from tournaments. And just like players getting that first check of the season out of the way, parents must also dispense with some unpleasantries to earn their true badge of honor:

The Stink Monster.

The olfactory equivalent to a Shea Weber slapshot, The Stink Monster resides in hockey bags and used equipment. Its stench lingers up and down the spine like a Dustin Byfuglien hit at center ice. 

But just as some plucky kids in Lake Placid once took down the mighty USSR, so too can The Stink Monster be vanquished.

Suzanne Wolff-kozikoski has a nose that knows offensive odors, having spent more than 20 years as a nurse. But this hockey mom says she’s never encountered any stench funkier than a hockey bag. She cautions the need to tackle “hockey stink” beyond its unpleasantness to the nostrils -- odor-causing bacteria thrives in a warm, most environment, creating a risk for infection.

You’ve likely heard this piece of advice before, but it is truly the most effective defense: never let wet equipment sit in the bag.


It does nothing just to unzip the bag either. After every practice and game, gear needs to be taken out and sweaty clothes need to go in the wash.  At least once a month -- more if needed -- I’ll run pads through the washing machine, using white vinegar as fabric softener to neutralize the odor without adding a chemical coat to the gear.  
I also designate a space in the house where the equipment can properly dry. A dehumidifier can help too. Some parents worry washers might affect the effectiveness of the protective gear and prefer a gentle soak in the tub with hot water with a dose of antibacterial soap. Some parents like the added boost of sprays and air dry the gear. On warm, sunny days, take advantage of Mother Nature and let the pads bake in the sun.
There are plenty of sprays, lotions and potions on the market, but the real key to slaying The Stink Monster, is staying ahead of the game and airing equipment after every use. Be diligent!

While I've got issues with this odorous opponent, there are plenty of players and parents, like Jennifer Hannon Powderly, who don’t view the stinky bag as a game misconduct. What’s it smell like to her? “Determination and dreams.

Maybe a little blood, sweat, and tears in there, while making all that determination turn from dreams into reality of playing the game her son loves so much.”

It's an interesting way of looking at it. But after all, what's in a name? A hockey bag by any other name would smell as sweet. name would smell as sweet.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Skaneateles hockey celebrates 12th win

Skaneateles hockey celebrates 12th win: The Skaneateles girls hockey team skated to victory over Clinton on Saturday.