ICE LESSONS: Adaptability

Hockey's full of knuckle-dragging fighters.

No, that's a role. 

Recently, I watched an enlightening documentary: Ice Guardians. It shed a light on why fighters fight. It gave a backdrop to the psychology of these athletes. 

Paul Bissonnette is a known agitator, fighter and enforcer. Although he resembles the looks of a frequent visitor to Pacha, more than the rigours of the NHL circuit, he is an unbelievable athlete. However, he once played for Team Canada U18's, as a defence man. He wasn't one to be known for his fighting and more on his ability as a player. 

In the NHL his role shifted and he became a left-winger. 

In the NHL he has had 82 fights. 

That's not including fights in the AHL, ECHL or during his time in Europe. 

To put some light that this guy can flat out play: In the Elite league he registered 19 points in 10 games during the last lockout. 

Hockey is a game were in the split second everything changes. You have to adapt. 

You usually play 5 on 5 but when your team takes a penalty you are down a guy. You have to shift your mindset to defence first. 

When you play a road game you have to play a different style that is usually a lot grittier. 

If you break a stick on a shot and you have to back check, you have to adapt to stop the play without a stick. 

It's a game where no matter how much training and situations you stimulate in practice, you will never fully be prepared for it. 

The game can throw anything your way. 

So, Hockey players know how to adapt. 

ICE LESSONS: Burning Bridges

I grew up playing Hockey in the UK and my main rink was Guildford. 

Twenty minutes drive from my childhood home and one of the best programs in the country. The program has one championships in each age group and at the time of joining was under the guidance of Ex-NHL'er, Fred Perlini. 

I played for the organisation from seven till fourteen. It was at fourteen I left mid-season due to lack of ice time and a great depth of players pool. At fourteen I was naive and I believed that the coaches had it out for me (as a coach now this is just ridiculous) and so I said F you and left for Romford. After a season in Romford, I moved to Bracknell, where I was with some other ex-Guildford guys and to my parents joy it was closer to home. 

The old saying, "The grass isn't always greener", can play true. 

I remember just hating Hockey. Physically, emotionally and mentally hating Hockey. There came a time where I had to take stock of what was going on around me. I was sixteen and in a strange series of events I came back to Guildford. 

However, it wasn't exactly that easy.

Guildford were now leading the league and on the way to the championship. The team was stacked and the group in the dressing room was tight knit. 

But, more importantly two years prior I had burned some bridges. 

When I approached Guildford to come back:

"If you want to play here you have to prove that you are willing to work harder than anyone else"

I realised the errors of my ways. I had to work harder than anyone else in practice and do whatever I could if I wanted to apart of this organisation again. 

I was on the back foot, and more than the coaches, I had to gain the respect of my teammates. Difficult to do. 

However, thanks to arguably the best coach, hockey brain and gentleman, Milos Melicherick, I was able to rekindle my love and passion for the game. 


So here's the ice lesson for today: When you think that it's better elsewhere or you think that everyone is out to get you. Stop. Think and look at yourself. 

After you've been truly honest with yourself. 

Then you can say F you. 

But, at one stage you will need to cross back to the bridge on the other side.

Don't light it on fire if you can't swim. 

 

How the hockey player is different.

This stems from a follow up to one of my last pieces "Why Hire a Hockey Player?" and it's mainly because of my brother. 

"Yeah, but everything you said can be put down to any sport". 

True. 

But, this is why the hockey player is different. 

My parents are from probably the craziest non-hockey backgrounds ever: Ireland and India. Not your traditional hotbeds. So finding the game via watching the Mighty Ducks was a blessing and perhaps peculiar. 

But, I am going to tell you why hockey taught me different things from my friends who grew up in other sports. 

Patience - When I was three years old I watched the Mighty Ducks. I was hooked and pumped and all I wanted to do was hit the ice. So we did and I got to try out skating. Just skating. I couldn't play hockey because I didn't know how to skate. I didn't have any skates, equipment, knowledge or any coaching. So, luckily I annoyed my parents to the point where every Saturday they would take me skating for lessons.
It wasn't until three years later, at seven, was I able to join the team and really start practicing. I had to go through the process of learning to skate and learning hockey basics before I could even try-out. 

This isn't so common for any other sport. 

Time management - Ok, this ones the best. Because, I used to wake my parents up at 4am to go to practice. I don't even think I ever set an alarm for those Sunday mornings when I was seven/eight/nine and so on. I was the one making sure I was up early enough for practice and got to the rink with plenty of time. Game days were a nightmare, all because of me, as I would be saying that "we need to go or we'll be late".
We never were.
But, it was because of time management skills I learnt. I would print off AA maps with differing routes and ETA journey times to make sure we were timed to perfection. 

This isn't so common for any other sport.

Resilience - So hockey is a little different, well in the UK anyway, as we don't have rinks all over the place. So if you get cut (I wrote something here on this) you have pretty much nowhere else to go - or you have to travel far away. You have to resilient and extremely thick skinned in order to improve and dust yourself down. 

This isn't so common for any other sport. 

Selfless - This is one that not many other sports can teach you. A quote that we used to have plastered across the walls in Guildford was, "It's amazing what can be accomplished when no one cares who got the credit". I entered the organisation at the age of seven and remember reading this quote and what it meant.
It meant everything.
To this day, (as weird as it maybe with my own site and all), that I would rather other people get the credit. I remember playing games that were probably my best individual games - but I was so pissed off because we lost. It didn't matter how I played; it only matters if we win. And, that's true for everyone in hockey. 

An assist is the exactly same point as a goal. There's a reason for that. 

This isn't so common for any other sport. 

So in defence of hockey, it's apparent to me that hockey isn't common. The game is played on ice. The game requires all sorts of skills and needs. The game is played late at night and early in the morning. 

But, what makes the sport the most uncommon is the small nature of it. You meet any hockey player or fan and you'll instantly hit it off - you will be the best of buds. 

It doesn't have to be the most popular sport to thrive. It's a game that thrives off uniqueness and hard work. 

And, that is why the hockey player is different.

 

Please comment, share, like or email whatever you like. I'm not the best writer but every little feedback means a lot to me as I look to improve to deliver better content for you guys! 

Is a Degree enough?

Does anyone care that you got a Degree? 

Does your mum and dad really care?

Do employers care? 

Do you care? 

So, this stems from a much bigger conversation that I've been having with people and importantly myself. I've overridden and forgone some of my university commitments (classes) for other things (personal development). 

As I write this I will be missing a week's worth of lectures to attend Advertising Week Europe. It is here where my thirst for the industry lies. The new stuff. The stuff that's in the press. And, the stuff that's going to matter to me in a months time upon graduation. 

I've take it upon myself to take the consequences and added work with these experiences. 

There's no tangible immediate benefit. I have literally no idea if these things will make a difference. But, right now they are screamingly important to me.

So, is a degree enough? 

In my very quick and blunt view: No. 

I live a different lifestyle from a lot of university students. One that allows me to have a lifestyle I have. I'm 22, live at home whilst studying and earn a good enough wage for a student who doesn't pay rent. 

I am fucking fortunate and boy do I know it. 

But, here's the catch. I don't see this as a time to sit back and let it all take care of itself. I use this as a platform to propel me and allow me to do things that I can do. 

I have positioned myself to be able navigate across industries without even knowing it. 

My curiosity stems for deeper than any classroom can teach me and ever will teach me. 

My curiosity has taken me to some dark holes and then into beaming rays of light. 

And, because inherently I've known that a degree was never enough. I knew I wasn't the 'master of one' but 'master of none'. 

A degree will unlock analytical thinking and provide a solid base for many fields. Heck, a degree certainly is enough in engineering and the like. 

But, in communications. No. 

So I call my fellow students and those graduating soon. Milk the time, don't swindle it. Take your curiosity and bend the barriers. 

Don't come back and complain when a degree isn't enough. 

When You Get Cut

When you get cut.

It sucks.

Your mind fills with negativity. Self-doubt and your esteem take a knock. You question your self-worth. You don’t think things could get better.

But, here’s the catch.

It’s a blessing in disguise.

You aren’t right for that team, company or organization.

Maybe just at this time or maybe forever.

I’ve been cut from roughly 4/5 teams. England national teams, regional select teams and haven’t gotten jobs after interviewing.

Recently, I didn’t get a job at Google. Into the final stages of the long process only to be told that they went with another candidate.

Kick in the teeth.

But, this is the time you reset your mindset. Or where I reset mine. Seek feedback, understand and develop. Maybe one day our paths will cross. But, for the time being they won’t be.

As many graduates will be looking to get jobs and start their careers in the next few months it is important to understand the journey. Don’t let it stop your momentum.

Keep improving.

Don’t deviate.

Hockey is a great game because the next night you can change your fortunes. You always can prove yourself.

You have that next interview, next company, next exam, next game, next tryout or the next blog.

The next one will be better.

Even or up.

Why Hire a Hockey Player?

Why Hire a Hockey Player?

Recently, I went through a pretty intense hiring process. At the final hurdle I didn’t get the job. I’m not disappointed, it is what it is, but it got me thinking about my peers in a similar position at the end of their careers/season or life.

Hockey is a game that not many people know, experience or understand. But, it teaches you lessons to last a lifetime. It shapes, moulds and educates you for who you become. It isn’t just a sport.

Why should anyone hire a Hockey Player?

They are just knuckle-dragging Neanderthals playing a white collar game.

Well...

Courageousness. Watch a game of Hockey you will see guys/gals diving in front of 100mph shots. You will see them getting drilled into the boards. For what?

Self-Pleasure?
Ego?
Money?

No, for the common goal. To lay their body, mind and wellbeing on the line for the objective at hand: Win.

Selfless. I have seen guys/gals who have given up their roster spot for a better player. I have seen a 2-on-0 breakaway pass to their teammate for a sure fired goal. They raise their teammates up. They’d rather someone else achieve greatness before themselves.

Humility. TJ Oshie once was labeled a ‘Hero’ by the media after his performance in the Olympics. His response “No, the real heroes are the ones in camo”. Hockey players don’t want the spotlight. They don’t seek out attention. They look to talk about the group, we, and us before ever saying I.

Creativity. After all the practices and countless repetitions, they react in split seconds during the game. They come up with plays on the fly. Yes, there are systems and set-up plays. But, 99% of what happens on the ice is reactive. You react to the game. You create something out of nothing.

Take a punch. You’ve seen the fights. You probably love them. But, this isn’t a barbaric ritual. This is about a rite of passage. You take the punch for the rest of the group. You take it to answer the bell. You don’t shy away. You come to terms and deal with what the game throws your way. You don’t pass the buck onto someone else. You truly stand up to be counted and when it’s all said and done: You’ll be right there the next night.

Mindset. In a hockey players mind there is nothing else. During those sixty minutes they fixate and hone in on the task at hand. They don’t deviate. But the game before the game is where the strong win. They prepare mentally. They go through routines and study their opponents. They get mentally ready for the task at hand.  

Work-ethic. They skate till they puke. They spend whole summers just training for the season. They miss countless parties, hangouts and dinner socials. They travel across the country and leave home. They train till midnight and wake up with the rest of the world. They get it. They get the process. And, they’ll work their tooth and nail to develop.

Resilience. They’ve probably been cut. They haven’t gotten the spot on the team or they’ve sat on the bench. Every hockey player has done this. Every single one. But, they go back to their training or gym. Work harder and develop to overcome their shortcomings. They don’t dwell. Seeking feedback, they get right to it. They bounce back.

The ultimate thing they believe.

Every game is our last.

Silently we all understand that every time you hit the ice it could be your last. That it can all be taken away. We get it.

So we leave it all out there. We play to play. We give it every fibre of our being. We get beat up for the moment that the sport has provided us.

If you a hire a hockey player. You aren’t just hiring a qualified person. You are hiring a loyal beyond reason team member. They will fight through anything. They will stand-up for the organization. They will give you everything they got.

They will lead.

Because, this is all they know.

 

"Chicks dig scars"

If you ever meet a hockey player. 

One thing you'll often notice are the imperfections on his/her face. 

You may see a couple of missing teeth, a crooked nose and probably a scar around their lip. 

It's part of the game. 

Now this may sound bizzare to a lot of people. Like bat shit crazy but

I used to wish for scars. 

Like I would imagine myself with a black eye. A couple of stitches here and there. A bruise on the cheek. 

It's kinda fucked up to think that way. You are probably thinking: "You wished for pain on yourself". 

The truth is they are like a badge of honour. I used to and still think that the best part of hockey that you will go through walls for the other guys in the locker room. You will physically lay your body on the line for a common goal. Winning. 

I'm missing a couple of teeth and have a nice scar that comes out in the summer from a stick to the face. But, relatively I'm unscathed. 

However, I wear them like a badge of honour. I'm proud to have a reason for it. 

Transition your thinking to business, life and all of the above. You get fired. You fail a test. You get sick. You lose a family member. These are all scars. We all have them. 

I'm not saying you should carrying them the same way as I do. But, they shape us who we are. They have moulded us to being in this exact moment. 

You learn from them. You build and you develop. 

I'm not much of centre ice bone crunching hitter. But, I love a shot block. 

The rush of diving in front of the puck and taking it. Yes, it hurts and it's dangerous but you do it for the other twenty guys/gals. You do it because it's part of the game. It's part of life. 

And the best part.

You come back to the bench, hurting and needing ice. When you get a tap. 

Just a tap. Nothing more. 

But, that tap from the guy next to you magnifies it. 

You've laid it all out there and you are picked right back up. 

 

Almaty 2017 - Last Days

Day 9 - Practice day
After having a nice chill in the mountains and some of the boys being able to sample some luxurious food it was back to horse meat and chicken sausages - Sarge's favourite! 
 

Zero F*cks give - Dewey

Boys were back in practice. No casualties this time. We were missing pucks for around twenty minutes of the practice with Diar nowhere to be seen. Croyley actually did go down and joined me on the injured list. However, his was probably from the chicken sausages. He had the case of the shits. Then after consuming a truckload of pills he had the inverse effect and had trouble the other end. 

Practice was sharp (probably cause I wasn't on the ice) and the boys were energised after the day off. Koreans were shaking in their boots - or just their heads at Si's old school Jofa bucket he was sporting to coach in. It was then I am sure I noticed the Korean's first line winger piss himself when they saw Foxy tearing down with his 1996 Jofa rendition. The laughter was muted quickly when they saw his new scar complete with stitches and when one Slovak player told them that 'he opens guys up'. True story. 

 

Day 10 - Game Day (Korea)

This was big one. For myself it was huge. First opportunity that I have been given to assume the role of the Equipment Manager and Defence door opener. Personally I would score my performance a solid 6. Rosey's feedback was that I was a little slow coming back to the locker to dry the gloves but was impressed with my visor cleaning. I should of been doing this job since day 1... But, being injured I just wanted to make sure I could do something to help the boys and if that meant filling water and being the 'bitch' so be it. 

On the ice we got off to a flyer. Taking a 1-0 period in the first and guys jumping in front of shots. #11 Liam Charnock just doing what he does best - Scoring goals and smiling. True story he actually smiled.

Playing largely in our defensive zone Longer had an outstanding game. Keeping us in the game for large parts. For someone who hasn't really seen Longer before these games or what he's like I can tell you he's one of the good ones. Big goalie, professional and he has a bright future for sure. We need more British goalies and as long as he works hard he'll be there. 

2nd period was much more of the same but the boys started to dominate. Daniel Rose come on down. Little forehand backhand action top of the circles through a screen 1-1 and top cheese. Shit celly but he's not used to scoring. 

Korea came back into the game during the 3rd with a scrappy goal to make the game 2-1. But Vanya Antanov saw an open net as they pulled the goalie late in the game. Vanny loves a point and his eyes lit up. Some say that was the fastest he's skated and shot before. That's also the biggest celly ever and Doug is calling him into the office when he's home. 

GOOSEBUMPS FROM THE BENCH!

3-1 against Korea and the boys have done it! We have finished in the top ten. No more long walks from the locker room. Finishing higher than Korea and China. Bradbury calls that job done. 

Welcome to Kazakhstan was of course the win song. 

Day 11 - USA Game Day

No rest for the wicked and the boys were back in action the next day. My 2nd day as Equipment Manager and Door Opener. Water was in the fridge overnight refrigerated - which Moggy didn't like.

12:30pm game meant we had a little bit longer in bed. We knew the US were a tough team but as this was for 9/10th place this game could go either way.

We started the game on a good note but as tired legs set in the US took control with defensive lapses. Longer was replaced by Hovey who got to see his first action of the tournament which was nice to see. He's been a great guy off the ice and around the team and to see him able to play some minutes was a big boost to see.

I even got a pic of my 2nd door opening night on the Almaty website.  

 

 

 

 

 

After the game the boys all headed back to the athlete village and 'packed' before we went out for the final evening. The evening was an experience and all the boys loved it. Extremely civilised. 

An early flight from Almaty - Instanbul - Birmingham was not welcomed with some upset bowels being moved. 

Boys thanks for the memories and good luck with wherever life takes you next. I'm feel lucky to spend probably my last moments in hockey with you guys - those I will cherish forever. I hope to see you all at some point and you are invited to my wedding party - whenever in the future it is. No absinthe. 

END

Now, this is just a note to BUCS, BUIHA, Bradbury, Miller, Andy, James (Physio, Doc and the whole athlete delegation. 

From myself and the rest of the Hockey team we want to thank you. The boys had the greatest time and I can safely say that from all the team we are forever in debt to you. You have allowed us the opportunity to experience things that not many people will ever experience. You have provided first class assistance and assured a smooth running with everything. As a nation competing with little to no budget we are impressed with your hard work and professionalism that you have displayed. From myself and all the boys thanks so much. 

To the medical team and staff. James and Doc - although the games didn't end the way I wanted them to, thanks. You guys have helped me out a ton and hope to cross paths in the future. 

DIAR! The boys loved you mate! We wish you all the best for everything in the future and you have to come to the UK soon. From everyone you are an absolute hero!

Almaty 2017 - Days 5-8

Day 5
After the opening ceremony and a couple of days off from games we were back at the rink for practice. 

Practice was flowing well until a particular Invicta Dynamo was sniped whilst wheeling out. It wasn't his usual particular blue-line turnover blowout that many fans of NIHL are familiar with. It was a hard slap shoot from an undisclosed source. We do know however that it was from a borrowed stick. The stick was borrowed from Christian Johnson. Investigation continues. Dewey had this to say “Should of used my stick and not my skate”.

Equipment manager for the Canadians came through like a knight in shining armour. Trevor plucked out of nowhere a brand new pair of CCM steel. Kev the invoice is in the post.

The rest of the day was long AF. We watched a lot of hockey and leaving the rink after the Canada – USA game. Mawer admittedly thought the game was timid and had nothing on Widnes Wild v Deeside. “I sin bigger hits at butchers back ‘n Grimsbayyyyy like’.

Day 6
Another day off and another early wake up call. Foxy lost his shit a little. No crepes this morning either.

 Back on the ice and another victim to the skate blade (Puck Stop sales are increasing by the day). This time Tommy P blew his load. Unfortunately, he has the ‘dustiest’ skates in the team and there was no spare steel from our hero. (Actually Foxy has the dustiest skates. Tommy P you are safe bud). Big money being splashed in Aberdeen meant CJ was rocking two pair of top of the line Bauers. And, the Scot’s want their independence…  

 Game Day - Canada
So we played Canada. Every single player of their roster played top tier Major Jnrs. Yeah OHL or QMJHL. Couple draft picks. Half a dozen with East Coast experience and one guy played on a line with McDavid.

 Everything was bardizzle. Guys with absolute rockets. Dewey got in the lane perfectly for a shot for a one-timer only for it to snipe through the smallest of gaps and hit top bins.

 I think it’s safe to say everyone can admit that it was the highest standard of competition we have played and will ever play. There were murmurs that the Canadian team they took to these games was the same team that beat the Nottingham Panthers comfortably in August.

Game Day - USA
No rest for the boys. Back at it for the early game v the USA. After the first with the score at 3-1 the boys were up for it. Charny with the goal and worst celly of the tourney to boot.

2nd and 3rd periods we ran into penalty trouble and ended up killing. I personally took a couple and it takes it out of the boys. Some soft calls across the games but you can’t leave your stick in at all here.

3rd period I was assessed for a head injury and Doc pulled me out of the game. From that they are treating it as a concussion and my games are done. Kicker in the teeth but that’s the way she goes.

After the game the boys took in some pool action. A lot of the boys liked todays swim session #palmtree

The rest of the evening we took in the figure skating across the road. No Iron Lotus.  However, there were some sick moves on display that the boys are choreographing for their Celly’s.

‘Rest Day’

First rest day we’ve had in since we have been here and with no on ice practice or workouts scheduled we relished in the chance to get up into the mountains. The Medeu ice rink is currently the worlds highest ice rink at 1800m above sea level and made for the most picture’esq place so far. CJ had a sure fire 50 liker on his hands.

Heading on a cable car a little further up we got to the ski resort. Getting to the ski resort was a twenty-minute cable car to the top. Getting off the French flanked us on the left with a barrage of snowballs. Boys weren’t up for taking no shit. Longer pinging ice balls smoking one Frenchman square between the eyes.

 

The chalet at the top of the mountain offered the classier players a chance for some fine-dining. Treated to a succulent burger with bacon and fried egg. Accompanied by hand cut potatoes seasoned with a dashing of salt. We ate well. Our fine dining experience was polished off with desert and hot chocolate. We know how to live.

£10 was the final spend for our joys.

On the return trip badges were exchanged. Andreas was pointed out to be the creepiest guy in the team by a Czech/Canadian figure skater. 

The evening CJ and Captain Mogg took us to witness the Curling. We truly were witnessing the rowdiest curling game ever. Mogg and Christian are the biggest curling fans in England. “The game has it all” Mogg admits as he considers an off-season sport switch.
it had everything:

Cowbells.
Flags.
Roweena.

Wolf Whistles.
Ice maintenance.
Pizza.

The scenes were electric. The Swede’s took the game in the final stanza for an 8-7 finish which leaves the girls still top of the group but tied with Canada.

There were several other activities in the evening involving stroking of legs and exchanging of scarfs. More to come as this one unfolds.

The next couple of days see us practice and get ready to play Korea on Sunday. We’re going for 10th place finish which will mean some goals will be scored. 

Almaty 2017 - Days 1 - 4

Nothing compares.

Day 1
We arrived in Almaty airport with people clapping as we landed. Sarge loves a clap. 

They must of heard about his obsession as Sarge was front and centre being interviewed by local press as we walked through the terminal to our team bus. 

 

Getting into the athlete village early doors Thursday morning a lot of the boys were feeling groggy from the long travel day but couldn't shut it down for some rest. 

Blaring all day was the song of 2017! 

TUNE

The rest of the day we were all taken back by how amazing this place is. It's fully legit. Staying in a purpose built village, views of the mountains, arenas, unlimited horse meat (dreams do come true) and a Tinder dream for the single lads. 

Day 2
Today was our first practice day and our first opportunity to get into our arena. The Halyk Arena. 

The drive from the village is around 40mins. For all our journeys we get a police escort and drivers who love a What's App voice note. 

Getting to the arena there's two pads. The main arena and a practice rink. We were scheduled for 12:30 on the ice. When we got to the rink Team Canada were on the ice. This arena is incredible. Nothing compares. Our locker room is the size of Solents Ice rink with designated sizeable stalls, tea and coffee table, a glove drying room, coaches room, physio room and skate sharpening room. The locker room is arguably breathtaking. 

Getting onto the ice there was a zip about the place. No dodgy boards, seamless glass and perfect ice made for orgasmic strides. 

Finishing practice for the day we got to come back to the village and take in our welcoming ceremony. Lot's of shapes being thrown. 

Day 3 - Game v Slovakia

We were first up for the winter games. Playing Slovakia at 12:30 meant an early wake up and get to the rink for 10am'ish.

The game went to Slovakia but with their roster it was inevitable - guys who play regularly in the Slovak top tier. 

Highlights here (or Stampy's backhand shot really...)
 

After the game we took in some Japan v Slovakia before heading off to watch the women play in a different arena against Kazakhstan #stasy29

Day 4
Just the one practice was scheduled with a gym session in the morning (There's a gym in the village as well as swimming pool and sauna). 

Highlight of practice was Monty and Rosey with a big centre ice hit on a breakout play. Both were on the same team...

The evening saw the opening ceremony. WOW!

12,000+ people cheering as you run around the arena. Unbelievable. No words at all. 

Here's my video from my iPhone.

 

Watch it here: 
 

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FOR THE QUEEN.

The power of just showing up.

Here's a pretty weird and surreal story. 

So as some people may know I am off to Kazakhstan in a couple of weeks to compete for GB. 

However, when the initial trials where held I was living in NYC - so I couldn't make them. 

I emailed the coaches to explain the situation. They were cool. 

But, I had to show up to the last selection try-out. 

I did. 

I made the team. If I didn't show up I wouldn't be off to the once in a lifetime opportunity to represent the country on the world stage. 

I didn't think I'd make the team or was at the standard at the time. 

But, I showed up. 

Team GB Selection

Proud and excited to be included in this years Team Great Britain: See story from Ice Hockey UK. 

Thanks to everyone who has helped me in my sporting endeavours over the years. This ones for you!
 

The Great Britain men’s and women’s university ice hockey squads have been named ahead of the 28th Winter Universiade, being held in Almanty, Kazakhstan.
The Winter Universiade is a multi-sport winter event which sees student athletes from all over the world compete in 10 events.
GB will take on some of the leading ice hockey nations in the world from 29th January to 8th February 2017.
Ice Hockey (Men)
James Scott – Sheffield Hallam
Lucas Branin – University of Tampa
Montgomer Gailer – Oxford Brookes
Ivan Antonov – Royal Holloway University of London
Joseph Aston – Nottingham Trent University
Thomas Hovell – Nottingham Trent University
Christian Johnson – University of Aberdeen
Thomas Parkinson – Leeds Beckett University
Adam Long – Anglia Ruskin UCP
Matthew Croyle – Sheffield Hallam University
Alexander Sampford – Surrey
Jackson Price – Cardiff Metropolitan University
Liam Charnock – Sheffield Hallam University
Michael Mawer – Sheffield Hallam University
Andreas Siagris – Imperial College of London
Daniel Rose – St Marys
Christopher Fox – University College London
Stuart Mogg – Southampton Solent University
Elliott Dewey – University of Portsmouth
Joseph Gretton – Nottingham Trent University
Samuel Cheema – Kingston University
Christopher Cooke – St Marys
Staff
Andrew Miller – Team Manager
Matt Bradbury – Head Coach
Simon Hopkins – Asst Coach
Andrew Marshall – Equipment Manager / Fitness Coach

Go to where the puck is going

So, in Hockey you are always beaten by the puck. If you try to go where the puck is - you've lost. 

The puck doesn't stay still.

It never does.

But, the best players go to where the puck is going. Not where it has been or currently is. They assess the situation all over the ice. They assess the looks of the eyes, the position of the puck carriers stick and then scan the ice to see open outlets. 

The best don't skate to where it might be. They know where it's going. 

It's done through studying every single component to make a creative educated guess. 

Now and again it will bounce beyond them or might get shot out of play. They accept this. 

But, they never stop going to where they think it's going. 

Relate this to your life - it's pretty simple. We can scan our surroundings, our passions and deepest desires. What's your ultimate job? What kind of lifestyle do want to live? Where do you want to be in five years? 

We all conjure images in our head. 

But, we can't jump straight there. We take small steps. We make that crossover. We pivot back and forth. We stop and start as we read the play. 

So, never stop going to where the puck is going. 

Don't worry if it bounces wayward. 

Because, in Hockey we have this thing called puck luck.

And the bounces will only go your way if you are true to the course. 

What Hockey is Like in the UK - Snipetown

Sam Cheema - 7 Years old

So, growing up in England with Irish and Indian parents hockey was always alien. The 5am practices, expensive equipment, lost weekends and the intensity of hockey parents - were all new phenomenon. Like most kids in non-traditional markets, during the 90's, we watched Mighty Ducks and were hooked. I was one of them. Pointing to my parents at the age of 3 and telling my parents, "I gotta do that".

Things were a little different back then. I call it the "proper" times. I was instructed to complete all my skating levels and certifications before I could join the team. So, every Saturday morning I would drive with my mum and take skating lessons from a figure skater named Stewart. Stewart taught me about edge control, stride length, balance, stance and endurance before I knew what any of those things were.

Fast forward to being seven years old and making the u10 team. We were called the Guildford Fireflies and we went to the National Finals. I was one of the youngest on my team and here I am playing on a full sized Olympic pad in a national final. The funniest thing that I remember from that game was having to carry my gear bag. It was like being in the pro's - our parents were instructed to leave us at the back door of the NIC Arena. Now with my player pass around my neck, shirt and tie to boot, I was made to carry my bag for the first time in my hockey career. Even though it had wheels, this was the goddamn finals, and I couldn't let Sheffield have any excuse to call us "Southern Softies". We get out onto the ice and being the Nationals weekend the place was rocking. Must of been 1500+ people in the stands. We had warm-ups on fresh ice and then we got off. I remembering being in the locker room in bemusement and in awe of what was going on. Then we go out and the light show was going on and they were introducing the teams guy by guy.

I was seven.

At Guildford we did things to win. Looking back now I understand the way things went and what the coaches were thinking in some moments. Fred Perlini, former NHL-er, was the head coach of the program and he had national champions in all age groups. He was present for all on-ice practices and he raised the tempo for everyone. But, he made it fun. I remember playing in the annual Perlini Roller Tourney and everyone would decorate their helmets or the times when we were in Holland and Vicki Perlini would be signing when we'd go out to eat - eventually getting everyone to chant/sing along with her. The Perlinis have two sons - Brett and Brendan. Both drafted into the NHL and both are testament to their parents love of the game.

Guildford was the creme de la creme. We probably had one of the nicest facilities in the country and we defiantly got the best locker room. We had carpet.
We also had a sign up in the room "It's amazing what can be accomplished when no one cares who gets the credit".

I played for Guildford until I was 14. Looking back I should never of left - but I did and a change of scenery gave me a great deal of perspective. I went to Romford, traveling two hours for practice and games and the year after I moved to Bracknell. Romford was in Essex and was a real barn burner (there was a fire there one time). It had no plexi but netting and before and after practice you would have to do the netting yourself. The dressing rooms were rife with damp and the benches had this weird step on them that I could never figure out why. Bracknell was also in need of repair. It's the hottest rink you ever play in...but it had plexi.

Being 16 and hating hockey I was all out of sorts. A good friend of mine's dad, Steve, saw me one time skating on a Saturday night session with my school friends. Told him what was up and he said 'why don't you come back here'. So, I did.

Mid-way through the season I left Bracknell and signed for Guildford. There were several burnt bridges and water to be pushed under them with the existing coaching staff. But, Milos Melicherick gave me a shot. "If you work hard, you'll play". So, I quietly worked hard in practice, the gym and studied the game as much as I could. We won the league and went to the playoffs that year. We had guys arriving over an hour for practice just to be with the guys. That really got my love for the game back.

The following year we went one step further. Winning the league, Cup and getting to the finals. That year I also split my time with two NIHL teams. These teams are regarded as semi-professional. I played for the Oxford City Stars and Streatham Redskins that year. My love for the game was at an all time high.

Leaving youth hockey there are four options. EPL/NIHL, Rec, coach or quit. Considering you are 18 and now in a market with guys up to 38 years old in some cases it's tough to find a place. I went on to play for the Invicta Dynamos and the Milton Keynes Thunder.

Late nights, early mornings, missed friendships and an uncountable number of sacrifices. The U.K. hockey market is growing. Not, fast. But, growing. If you ever visit the U.K. in the winter months I implore you to take in a game. You'll get 40 guys with their heart on their sleeve slugging it out over 60 minutes for the glory of the game. The relive what it's like to just play. To enjoy the process. The ebbs and flows. Before they step out of the rink come the end of the night and return to their daily lives.

Hockey isn't easy. Hockey certainly isn't easy in the U.K. But, it's hockey.

When you lose your team - Snipetown

Whalers. Nordiques. Raiders. 

All three have similar things in common. There's no more hockey. 

Even though the Wolfpack and Ramparts are entertaining fans - it is no more the case for the Raiders. 

The team I signed for this year, Wightlink Raiders, were effectively pushed off the Ryde Pier. Without knowing we were told our arena was ceased back by BNY Mellon & AEW and that we'd have to find an alternative building. 

Ice hockey in the UK - there's not many rinks. 

Without a rink on the IOW made it realistically impossible to be a travelling team. So, we passed out this weekend with a final two game stint. 

Now for players this sucks. The team was probably one of the best group of guys in a locker room I've been apart of. Lifelong friends all playing together...and winning. Things were good. But, life goes on and we all find new teams. 

But, the fans. 

This was their Saturday night. 

This was their winter past time. 

This was their entertainment. 

This was their team.

This was their life. 

Come each September they would fill the stands and chant all the way till April. They would jump and sing, debate and argue, swear and cry. But, they would be there. They would welcome you with a smile. They would probably write something on the Hockey Forum. 

I can not envision what the emotions of those fans were this weekend. How must they feel moving forward? Do they still like Hockey? What do they do on the weekend now? 

On Saturday evening fans were in tears.

A young boy of 6 "What do you mean no more Raiders?"

So, thank you. 

From everyone associated with the sport we all thank you. The fans. This is the toughest on you. We thank you for the years. The spent money. The jerseys you bought. The match night programs. The volunteering. The smiles. The wins. The loses. The bus trips. The boat trips. 

As players we cherish those memories and without you we wouldn't be doing this. 

This is the toughest on you and we salute you. 

I wrote this for Snipetown where I am a partner.