On thin ice

Well, it looks it’s back to school for this old guy – hockey school, that is

Well, it looks like it’s back to school for this old guy – hockey school, that is.

After a few years hiatus, I’m looking to lace ‘em up and get back on the ice at Priest Valley Arena with the Friday-night group I skated with a few years back.

I fell off the wagon after a few seasons, and I find myself wondering why I ever left. It probably had something to do with having to get up for work Saturday morning. My body doesn’t like to wake up at the best of times, and after getting home around midnight from a 90-minute workout, it doesn’t exactly want to go to bed either.

I’d find myself sitting, or rather buzzing, in my living room, and the combination of crappy late-night television, reading and video games did little to curb the adrenalin rush.

My typical Friday night used to go as follows: cover the Vernon Vipers if they were at home, race home to get my gear, race to PV to get dressed just in time to skate few laps before puck drop (later if the Snakes went into OT, which they did a lot last year), gas my legs after a few shifts, score the odd goal or set up some plays, and finally come home to stare at the ceiling until 1 a.m.

Yet I find myself jonesing for another go.

I’m hoping improved conditioning will help my post-workout recovery. To that end, Jason Gilbert, a Friday night hockey legend, is assembling an adult hockey conditioning camp, Sept. 12-15 (all times are at night) at Priest Valley. I figure if he can organize Funtastic, lining up a bunch of young-at-heart oldtimers should be a cinch.

My skills, such as they are, are as rusty as the Titanic right now, and I’m hoping these sessions will help ease me back into the rec hockey loop.

The last time I participated in hockey skills development was when I stepped on the ice for an article I wrote on the Hockey Canada skills program run by Aaron Hoffman out of Vernon Secondary. Before that, it had been nearly 20 years since I had worked on any kind of skills training.

Skating with Hoffman’s crew was a quantum leap compared to the kind of training I did in minor hockey, which consisted of mainly crossovers around the circles, the redline-blueline drill, St. Louis and scrimmage.

It was probably more involved than that, and we did have some really good coaches even then, but with the way the game has evolved, the level was nowhere near what the kids learn these days.

I figure if youngsters can have access to coaching and training like that (and actually enjoy it), why can’t I? It’s not like oldtimers couldn’t use the occasional hockey tune-up (or soccer, basketball, skiing… pick your sport). If anything, we could probably use it the most.

You could argue that it is only a recreational sport, but I never want to get to the point where I think I’m too old to learn new things. Even if it has to do with a sport I’ve played for 30 years.

I’ve watched rec players make the same mistakes over and over, and all it would take is a few pointers to correct them. The only problem is there is usually no one to help. That’s where this camp will come in handy.

I can be honest with myself long enough to realize you could roll a beach ball through the holes in my skill set (good thing I’m not a goalie). I plan to work on some of those flaws when we hit the ice, and maybe even expose some new ones.

There are still a few spaces left for the camp, which will be coached by Paul Britton. Anyone interested can call Jason Gilbert at 250-549-1769.