I went and trained with the Cockburn Hawks at Cockburn Ice Arena tonight. It's the first time I've touched the ice in over a year after trying it out at Mirrabooka with the Hurricanes for two weeks last year (as it was closer to me living in Cottesloe. The rink is only ten minutes away which is great!
The Hawks compete in the Western Australian league. The Senior leagues consist of a Senior A (6 teams) and Superleague (5 teams). The Leagues are affiliated by Ice Hockey Australia and play to IIHF rules. Interestingly the IIHF 2005 World Championships have just taken place in Austria and Czech Republic beat Canada in the final.
I have never played Ice Hockey before apart from those times at Mirrabooka and tonight. I have coached Roller Hockey at various levels since I was 16 and only stopped when I came out to Australia. I never competed in a league team though so my knowledge of Roller Hockey is purely from benches eyes. Going to a training session on Ice tonight was a real eye opener.
- The rink is a lot bigger and movement for both defensive and offensive players is a lot more intense.
- I found the puck a lot heavier and harder to stop and control than the roller puck (and I only started using this since I've been here playing pick up hockey in a car park every now and again).
- My ice skating is not as strong as my roller skating and I found stopping, turning and accelerating a lot harder and really had to think about it. This confused my reactions because I was trying to think about two things at once. Whereas in Roller Hockey, I just have to think about the play and not actually moving about!
The people are very friendly as with most clubs I've helped out with (coaching, refereing and managing etc.) in the past. It's interesting to note that most of the Senior players were all from Canada, USA, UK, Czech Republic and Italy etc. There were only a handfull of Australian's and most of them seemed to be Junior players playing up. Most of the 'foreign' players have lived here for more than 10 years and obviously help out a lot in the running of the sport over here which is great.
The Senior A team is playing game 7 on Sunday and half way point for the season is game 10. I'd love to say I'll be confident enough and ready to play before the half way point to see the rest of the season in, but I don't think my Ice skating will be good enough by then to let me concentrate on playing the game. It is very frustrating knowing, as a coach, what you should be doing, where you should be but not being able to get their quick enough or control the puck even when your there in time. As one of the guys said tonight "it's all about cranking up the mileage on the ice". I'm going to start going down to the open skate sessions to get some more "mileage" and am going to really go for it!