i had an interesting experience yesterday. i wasn't in the lineup for slavia and so spent my pre-game time at the hotel down the street doing some emailing and chatting with home. when i arrived at the rink, i found the game delayed by an hour because slovenia had been waiting in prague for us at the home of the men's slavia club. our home ice is in kralupy, 50kms outside prague. anyways, it came to be known that triglav (the slovenian team) only had brought 7 players with them... on the 700km journey from triglav to prague. coach karel, a big grin on his face, asked me if i wanted to suit up for slovenia. i hesitated, paused a moment to think about it, shrugged my shoulders and said, SURE.
the game was a blow out, slavia beat us 13-1. but it was one of the most fun games i've played this year. women's hockey is small in slovenian (men's hockey is really big) and the women that play on the team play just because it's fun. for them, it's a hobby. and it was great for me to sit in their dressing room with them, soak up the lighthearted atmosphere and help to remind me why i love this game so much. with only 7 skaters, i got a TON of ice time. and playing slavia, an extremely fast team with 3 solid lines, i had a cardiovascular workout like i haven't had since i got here. lungs were definitely burning well into the night last night.
one cool thing that happened was in between the second and third i asked barbara, the slovenian who spoke perfect english and was a great gal, about their d-zone coverage. she said they didn't have one, so i started to suggest a basic coverage we could try. as i drew on the paper, every girl from the team got up and knelt and stood around me so that they could see what i was doing. barbara translated a little, though the girls could understand english, if not speak it. it was so fun to teach this basic hockey principal to this group of very open and teachable girls. we had more success trying to do that - things were calmer and somewhat under control in our zone after that. another fun part was telling the girls to play a box on d-zone coverage for penalty kill. they picked it up so fast and we were good at it! we held off 3 hc slavia powerplay lines until with 6 second left they finally put one in.
after the game, the girls thanked me and gave me a great little fleece triglav tuque to take home with me. they clapped and said they'd like to take me home with them... "we've got lots of great looking guys in slovenia!", barbara told me. when we're in slovenia two weeks from now on our italian/slovenian tour, barbara and i are going to go for coffee. yesterday was an unexpected blessing!
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