You found a team and your first league game is coming up. Before you step on the ice here are some tips to make you teammate of the year and secure your spot for next season.
Pay up on time or early
Captains in adult hockey aren’t getting paid to do this, in fact they likely got stuck with the C when someone else left. Make the Cashiers job easier and be one of the first to pay up. Also, don’t bust chops looking for an exact breakdown of where every penny goes. No one is trying to get rich, skimming rounded off dollars from the team fees. Rounding errors usually come from needing to cover warm up pucks, water bottles, paying for all or some of the goalies fees (not uncommon for Goalies to play for free), etc.
Get to the rink early
Being captain is brutal enough especially when half the team gets there with the Zamboni is halfway done with the ice. Get there at least 30 minutes early, find a spot, and get dressed early. This is also a good time to inquire about our next tip.
Ask what position they need you to play
You are the new guy, they likely have pairings that work well together so be gracious and ask where they need you the most. If you aren’t confident on D or center, be honest, but if that’s where they want you, then give it your best effort. They will likely give you some pointers, help you along, and be more forgiving when something doesn’t go well.
If you whine that you need to play right wing only and mess up their lines trust me you’ll be the blame for every loss and tie going forward.
Don’t worry about ice time
Depending on your teams depth you may be forced to play on the lowest line. Instead of complaining to the captain, show him your worth. Give 100% every shift and take a higher spot away.
First impressions are important and odds are you are going to make a few bonehead plays this initial season. It comes with the territory, don’t get discouraged. At least be the positive bench/locker room guy, no one stays mad at that guy for long.
Show up with a few extra pucks to donate to the team for warm ups, warm up pucks are almost always in short supply, even if a team adds some money each season to buy more, trust me tossing the captain 4-6 pucks to add to the collection is always appreciated.
Have extra tape, someone is always looking for shin tape. I’m not saying become the unofficial equipment manager, but throw an extra roll in your bag so you can help out that guy who never seems to have his… at least for the first few games. The rest of the team will notice; you may not get any goals or assists in your first few games, but you can easily score some brownie points which are almost as good.
Your league may not approve, but you can text/call the captain to ask if you can bring refreshments for after the game. It’s not called beer league for nothing… ASK THE CAPTAIN FIRST. Some leagues are not so fond of the nickname and have rules against this. Your attempt to be the nice guy won’t go over so well if you get your team a DQ when someone sees you roll in with a cooler fer’da boys. If beers are a no go, bring a few cold Gatorades to share.
Shut your mouth and open your ears
It’s your first few games, even if it’s a brand new team please take this last tip to heart. You likely have read a bunch and gotten lots of good tips on hockey fundamentals, but keep those to yourself.
After a shift on the bench or in the locker room after the game, no one wants to hear what the new guys thinks of our D man pinching or how the center needs to support the puck better. The more experienced guys should be handling that.
This first season find the more seasoned players and ask them to let you know what they see you doing right and wrong. When they give you that feed back listen, don’t get combative/defensive, and give their advice a try. Not only can they see things from a point of view that you may not notice in the heat of the moment, but they will likely also look to get the puck to you more often as they are trying to help you.
This sport isn’t cheap, but it’s worth every penny. Stay positive, hustle, and most importantly enjoy the game.
Tips for your first game once you hit the ice will be covered in another post. Keep an eye out for it soon.