Throughout the season, the higher calibre teams have an advantage their lower calibre counterparts don’t have. That’s more ice time. I know I’ve talked about it before, but ice time is probably the most important ingredient to developing good players.
Instead of a measly hour’s worth of practice a week and one or maybe two games weekly during the season the single letter players get, the double letter players’ practice time is tripled, and they have two to three games a week.
Which means that even if a player’s skill level isn’t all that great to begin with, with the amount of ice time the player gets throughout the season means his skills will only improve.
And that’s independent of the abilities of the coaches — or the peer pressure all the teammates place on each other to play better. To stick handle better. To find ways, together, to thwart the opponent, like dropping the puck for the player coming into the zone right behind them, making head’s up, tape-to-tape passes. Seeing the opportunities, and making them. Knowing where your player is going to be, and getting the puck to him once he gets there. Giving your all, and playing your best.
Yesterday afternoon, as the grandstand coach that I am – that we parents are – I saw some great skaters, some great puck handlers, some extremely hockey-wise players, a few who’s shine may not be all that bright, but even so, if there’s a level they need to reach, they’re all nearly there even if they’re not quite there yet.
Yesterday afternoon, the Team 1, the white team took Team 2 (in yellow) and beat them, 4-3. Nic ended up with a +/- of +1, having been on the ice for two of the yellow team’s three goals, and only on the ice for one of Team 1’s goals, which started with a pass from Nic, but I have no idea if he would have gotten that assist. They played for 90 minutes, with shifts that rarely went more than a minute. The pace of play was fast and there were some amazing plays – as well as some great goaltending. Nic guarded the blue line when they were in their opponent’s zone. He read the plays as they unfolded and responded to them as he should. Whether he played well enough to get a checkmark next to his name, I don’t know. My gut says “yes” but I’m still crossing my fingers.
This morning, Team 2 is playing against Team 3, and then Team 1 will play against Team 3 this afternoon. That’s not very good news for Team 3: It was hard enough to have a practice and a game yesterday, but back-to-back games must really be brutal. It’s a good thing the start of school is still a week away – these kids will sleep like logs tomorrow.
But only after the cut is announced on Facebook at 7:00 p.m. tonight.
It’s going to be another wild day.