The Finley Files: Testing and Scrimmaging

This morning I was the bigger man and didn’t SLAM the door on Bruiser as he did the day before on me. I made quick work of a Denver Omlette, fruit with yogurt and a bagel, and headed to the rink for on-ice testing.

On ice we were run through four different tests (S-test, top speed, sprint, neutral zone agility) by Jack Blatherwick. Of all the tests we do on ice, these tests are the most important for obvious reasons: they are the most hockey specific. I had done all of these before so I was comfortable with them, but the thing that is always difficult is the poor ice conditions. It was another hot day in D.C. on Wednesday, but it was amazingly humid. Humidity is no friend of an ice sheet, and with so many spectators coming in and out of the Iceplex we were bound to have ice issues. A number of guys, including myself, fell during the testing. It’s not the end of the world because you are allowed another attempt. In my case I’m lucky to skate away from my not so graceful tumble.

After the testing was over Eakin, Delly and I went to Noodles for a quick carb load. Of course my eyes were bigger than my stomach and I ordered too much food to eat so I took some to go. We all headed back to the hotel and took a quick nap before heading back to the rink for the camp’s first scrimmage.

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The scrimmage was a good starting point for me after nearly 8 months since my last official game. I tried to keep things simple and play physical. Obviously I expected to make mistakes, but I also wanted to stay away from letting one mistake lead to another. It was great to get the feeling of that first shift, to get the legs burning in actual competition, and I’m excited to get on the ice tomorrow.

Reflecting on the game today I started to think about all the effort I had put in during my injury to be ready for this opportunity, and I wanted to take the time to recognize a few people that were extremely important in my progress and ability to improve.

The first guy that comes to mind is Jack Blatherwick. He’s been more important to my training, both mentally and physically, than anyone else, not just over the past 8 months, but over the past few years in the summer months. The way that we train is to mimic on-ice movements and maximize their correlation with skating. I could go on for the next few days divulging the information that has sunk in, but I’ll spare you all.

The second guy is Tom Donahue from the Blake Ice Arena back home in Minnesota. He’s been opening the doors to his rink since I was 8 years old and I have rented ice from him (well my parents when I was younger) since I can remember. Having ice to skate on all year round is an unbelievable resource to have. The fact that he’s always been willing to help make me a better player and always has a smile on his face makes it that much more inviting to come in and work hard. Even if it’s for just a half hour just to go shoot pucks, Tom has been invaluable. For that I will always be indebted.

With all of that being said, I want to thank everyone who came out to support us today. I can’t thank you all enough and explain how great it is for all of us at this camp to play in front of a large crowd of passionate hockey fans in the middle of July! Again THANK YOU.

Time to tuck Bruiser into bed and read him a bed time story about Group A beating Group B for our scrimmage tomorrow.


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