How many of these rec hockey mistakes have you made?
By Warren Tabachnick
1. Taking the Game Too Seriously
We’ve all seen those rec hockey players who for some reason believe they’re playing in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals. Their adrenaline is pumping; their competitive spirit is high. They scream at the officials; they yell at their teammates.
For Pete’s sake, guys. Let’s keep things in perspective. You’re at a rec hockey game at 10 o’clock on a work night, where most likely the only one in attendance is the Zamboni driver who is counting the minutes till the final buzzer sounds so he can get his job done and go home. Drop it down a few notches and just take in the joy of playing hockey.
2. Ignoring the No-Checking Rule
Everyone has experienced that over-exuberant jerk who forgets it’s a rec hockey game, lines up an opposing player, and crushes them into the boards (see Item #1, above). C’mon, folks, we’re here for fun. We’ve all got to get up for work the next day. Leave the body checking to the pros.
3. Being an Ice Hog
This one is criminal. Who among us hasn’t witnessed the guy who decides to play a 5-minute shift? You watch as they suck wind, oblivious to the shouts from the bench to “Get the #@$* off the ice!” And when they finally do realize they’ve been out there too long, they decide to come off when the puck is in the defensive zone. Not only does it mess up the lines, it puts your team at a potential disadvantage.
If you’re an ice hog, here’s what you need to do: Keep your shift to no more than a minute. (Of course there are times when you need to be out there a bit longer, like when the opposing team is on a scoring drive in your zone.)
Keep in mind that the sooner you get off the ice, the sooner you’ll be back on it!
4. Skating While Injured (or Sick)
This should go without saying. Take it from me: I’ve suited up for a game not feeling quite right, or with a nagging back or shoulder, only to see it worsen. If you’re feeling under the weather or are experiencing any kind of serious pain, sit the game out.
5. Arriving at the Wrong Rink (or Wrong Time)
It happens even to the best of us. With everything going on in our busy lives these days, sometimes our schedules get messed up. Be sure to check, double check, and recheck the date, time, and place of your game.
6. Forgetting Your Gear at Home
This affects every one of us at one time or another. You arrive at the rink all set to dress for the game, only to discover you left that one essential piece of equipment at home. Chances are zip to none that one of your teammates packs an extra shin guard or pair of skates in their bag, so the next step is to head to the lost & found where you desperately hunt for a replacement for that missing item.
If you’re lucky enough, you’ll locate something close to your size. More often than not, though, you’ll be wearing equipment that was misplaced by a small child. While not a perfect situation, it sure beats the alternative: packing up your gear and sitting out the game!
7. Wearing Brand-New Skates in Your Game
You’ve just plunked down a few hundred bucks for a sweet pair of skates. You’re itching to lace ’em up and get out out there to see what they can do for your game.
A word of caution, my hockey friends: Unless they’re properly broken in at a few public skating sessions (or some good time on a frozen pond), those hot new skates can end up hurting your game—not to mention your feet.
8. Failing to Bring the Post-Game Beverages
If you were to conduct an informal survey of rec hockey players, many would consider this infraction to be the most serious of all rec hockey mistakes.
You’re tired after a full day at work; it’s late; and in many locations it’s freakin’ cold outside. You hurriedly pack your gear and head to the rink, and once you’re in the locker room and suiting up you do all you can to summon the energy to perform your best in your game.
For most of us, win or lose, after a spirited game the reward comes in the locker room. Cracking open that post-game beverage is just what you’ve been waiting for (isn’t that why they call it Beer League Hockey?). And when you or your teammate doesn’t come through with the beer, well, need I say more?
One more thing: Be sure to bring fresh ice for cooling your drinks instead of using contaminated Zamboni slush!
9. Packing the Wrong Jersey or Uniform
Most rec hockey players play on at least two teams simultaneously. Which is why it’s a fairly common occurrence for the jerseys to be mixed up between teams, oftentimes leading to an embarrassing situation where the jersey in the bag is not the one required for the game.
Some rec hockey leagues mandate the use of Home and Away uniforms (which include both jerseys and socks). In many cases, the poor soul who neglects to wear the official game uniform can be penalized for such an egregious offense.
Avoid this embarrassing mistake and make sure you pack both Home and Away uniforms for every game, just in case!
10. Eating the Wrong (or Too Much) Food Before the Game
Who among us hasn’t had that pregame roast beef dinner or half a pizza, and then tried desperately to work it off while you’re out on the ice? All you really want to do is play your best, and the only thing you can come up with is a bad case of heartburn.
Or maybe you do watch what you eat before you play, but happen to be stuck sitting next to a teammate on the bench who decided to wolf down three hot dogs before the game. The constant belching is something you won’t easily forget, as it can be one of the most annoying things you can put up with.
Be smart. Make good choices about what you eat before you play. And always allow sufficient time to digest your pre-game meal.
11. Showing Up Drunk to the Game
Needless to say, this is more than just one of your run-of-the-mill rec hockey mistakes. It is so dangerous and on so many levels. Driving drunk to the rink means risking everything, of course. And rec hockey players who drink alcohol before a game can create problems for both themselves and others out on the ice. Your judgment becomes skewed; aggression levels are often amplified; and the intoxicated expose themselves to potential injury. Save it for after the game.
12. Not Bringing a Water Bottle
Certainly another most annoying habit, and one of those rec hockey mistakes that can really get under your skin.
You take the time to fill your bottle with water (or your favorite energy drink) that’s chilled to just the right temperature. And what happens next? You hop onto the ice for your shift, only to discover when you return to the bench that half the bottle has been drained by one of your teammates.
Conversely, if you’re one of those mooches who glom off a teammate’s bottle, be real. A decent water bottle can be purchased for a few bucks. Make it a point to bring your own and make everyone happy.
Rec hockey is one of the coolest things you could do. Ever. So make the game fun for yourself and everyone else.
Warren Tabachnick is the editor of CrossiceHockey.com. He plays on two rec hockey teams.