Saturday, July 27, 2013

Open hockey (Sunday brunch: July 28, 2013)

I don’t have to compete at State Games like The Other Doctor Mitchell, Sabers, and Bangle, but I need to be in mid-season shape too: this is an important event for the players and they deserve our best.  Official USA Hockey training camps aren’t going to start until next month, so I set up my own program: going around to some of the area rinks for their open hockey sessions.  It’s a whole lot more productive practice than going to a public skate and just skating around in circles, even skating fast and weaving around other skaters to work on agility like I usually do to get ready for the season.  And I need it because I've been refereeing more fencing than hockey the past few months.

The players found it novel to have a ref join them, but for the most part they played like the usual open hockey: hacking around, floating in the neutral zone, and showing off individual skills.  Friday night was a really good bunch of players: a couple of guys who looked like college players or maybe senior A, some decent senior Bs, and some good midget/high school age players including a very solid defenseman.

With no goalies, no line changes, and very light enforcement of the rules, it was like pond hockey.  For the ref working solo, it was like D-league, only at twice the speed.  There’s no better workout for a ref: a solid hour of 150 percent speed and endurance.  Bantams will seem slow after this, which is just what I needed.

Need some puzzles to keep your brain just as fit?  Here we go...

The Wall Street Journal has an acrostic by Mike Shenk and the New York Times has a Hex acrostic (behind the paywall).

Hope you’re not afraid of snakes!  This week’s Hex cryptic in the National Post has a serpentine theme, while the Nathan Curtis puzzle of the week is a Snake Charmer.

And if you didn’t see it earlier this week, give Roger Wolff's “X Games” a try, and if you like it, join the Kickstarter for his Cryptic All Stars book.  I finished it this morning, after nailing the 12 letter entry on the left.  It’s one of those puzzles where the lights are unnumbered and the answers given in alphabetical order.  I had about two thirds of them figured out, but only three in the grid.  I had to take a leap of faith, and ended up rolling right through as soon as I did.  Let that be a lesson.

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