I can’t imagine how adults learn to play hockey if they don’t have a league like the Madison Gay Hockey Association. And I now understand why so many straight people have joined the MGHA.
Too often, in regular adult hockey leagues, beginners can’t even find a team to play on. If they do manage to find a team—through a friend or coworker—they probably won’t receive much coaching. Then, they may even receive ridiculed for their lack of skill. And opponents certainly wouldn’t play down to their level to help them out.
And I certainly wouldn’t expect to experience a show of good sportsmanship like I saw in Week 3 of MGHA games.
After our Week 2 win, we all received an unfortunate e-mail from Nikki, the Green Gay Puckers goalie. She was playing in a women’s league during the week and heard a “pop” in her knee. That’s never good.
Luckily, she’s only out a few weeks. But that left our team without a goalie, so we had to poach some substitutes from the other teams.
In Week 2, the Green Gay Puckers racked up 6 goals against Andrew, Boo-teal-licous’ goalie. The very next week, he stepped up, donned a green jersey for us…and pitched a shutout.
He was visibly upset with his poor play against us in Week 2, yet he was able to put all that aside and make save after save as our team had a pretty poor defensive performance against the blue team. Yet, thanks to the goalie that allowed my first (maybe-kinda-sorta) goal, we earned a 3-0 victory
It’s a Challenge
After three weeks of games, we took a break from our regularly scheduled programming and played challenge games. MGHA challenge games are a chance for people to play only with other players at their skill level. We play a beginner, intermediate and advanced game.
I signed up for the beginners’ game, and it was very refreshing to play a slower pace. For once, when I got the puck, I had time to think about what I wanted to do with it before someone came and stole it. I was even able to carry the puck around defenders and go on a few breakaways.
Of course, the goalies stoned me on my breakaways, because I still can’t quite lift the puck, but it was a fun change of pace.
Over thanksgiving, we had more challenge games, and I once again played in the beginner’s game. This time, I was playing defense. It was the first time I’ve defended, and I’m still not too great at skating backward.
However, I think I may have a knack for it. I can skate fast to smack the puck away from an opponent. And even though I can’t do much puck handling, I’ve become pretty good at clearing the puck out of the defensive zone – probably because the minute I get the puck, I panic and get rid of it.
My first real goal
Week 4 found the Green Gay Puckers facing off against the gray team, Salty. Krystal – a former NCAA player – skates for the gray team, and she quickly scored one of her allotted two goals. Late in the second period, with the Green Gay Puckers trailing 1-0, Patrick—the MGHA founder— was playing defense and fed a pass to the neutral zone, but his teammate missed it.
Patrick had already skated up to the neutral zone, but I pounced on the loose puck and got ahead of him. I knew he would be right behind me, but I skated as hard as I could and carried the puck toward the goalie. I wanted to carry it in a little closer, but I could feel Patrick gaining on me. I was about to shoot when two sticks surged forward and smacked the puck away as I shot it.
I was really bummed I didn’t get the shot off, but then Patrick and the other defender skated right past me without taking the puck with them. My failed shot attempt forced the goalie to move to the near side of the net to try to make the save. When I noticed that the puck was still there, I took a swing and shot it far side, right past the goalies’ skate and into the net.
That goal was way more satisfying than the my first one, as it knotted the game at the end of the second period.
Then, we promptly gave up two more goals and lost 3-1. But it was still a fun night—especially since some of my friends from work were nice enough to come cheer me on (after I told them that the rink was BYOB, of course).
I can feel myself getting better and better each week. And I am definitely getting into much better shape. I was able to play for two hours last weekend, when before I couldn’t even play 10 minutes without having trouble breathing. I now understand the term “hockey shape.”
What’s really helped is the encouragement and the instruction from some of the veteran players. They honestly love the game and just want to help spread that love. They don’t care if they win or lose—though, they always want everyone to try hard—they just want people to have fun.
I don’t know where else I could have found that.
If you have any questions about MGHA or life in general, feel free to email me.