(vol. 18S, no. 1; newsletter by j.c.)
There is a normal ebb-and-flow to all things in the universe: the Solar orbit, the Spring and Fall Equinox, the recession/expansion in the business cycle. Sometimes we are keyed into these cycles — planning for, and anticipating, their next reversal in direction; other times we just plod along. In fact, I am not even going to talk that much about the game because we need to recognize the trend that we are in.
(editor's note: the views in this column by Wildman are not necessarily endorsed by Pirate management.) Lately it seems we are swimming against the tide. At least I hope it is that and not male menopause. Anyway, all of our opponents in this league (with the exception the Geriatrics) seem to have gotten a step quicker and are playing smart hockey. The big question is:“Are the Coastal Pirates going to be part of the improvement trend?” Are we going to be drowned by the Wave? Or stepped-on by a bunch of Ducks? Or mauled by the Jaguars, Coyotes and Dire Wolves? Will we be laughed at by the Jamokes and that Hocky Teem?

We show up, we hang in for awhile and then we are either blown out or we lose a close one at the end. So, are we just going through the motions of showing-up, getting dressed, and then drinking some beers in the parking lot? How much are we thinking and planning for what happens between the “get dressed” part and the “have beers in the parking lot” part? We are walking a razor-thin line of staying competitive with the some teams and falling into the abyss of Geriatric-dom. This is our wake up call. If we are barely hanging in with our competition, then the little things become really huge in determining whether we win or not. Playing position, back-checking, blocking shots (when was the last time we had five or ten of those in a game?), not pinching, and forwards covering for the “D” when they do pinch. Are we talking to each other about our competition? Who to cover, how they are defending us, where we are going to be in certain situations? Let's start with the things we can't change and then work on the things that we can:

1) The Refs: We have seen much less of Bobby and Scott and their replacements are not up-to-par. Nothing we can do about it except play as if they are not there. How has it hurt us? Well we are hit with cheap shots, and we are getting caught in retaliation. I took some bad ones recently and it cost us. Worse yet, we are not “hitting within the implied rules.” Basically, some checking is allowed by these refs; around the puck you can hit with your shoulders and hips as long as no stick or extended arms are seen by the refs. Am I saying to butt-end the opponents because you can get away with it? No, but basketball-like picks seem to be allowed. We should not let teams think they can just stick handle straight up the middle into our zone.

2) Show up on time and ready to play: I am guilty again here. A few instances are bound to happen, but lately more and more people are following the bad example I set. If we are losing a step in speed compared to our adversaries, does it make sense to have less players on the bench? What if you have a dozen White Castles an hour before the game? A few beers? Do you eat a big lunch and a light dinner? Your stomach requires a large amount of blood and oxygen to digest foods. The conflict is to play good hockey you need lots of blood and oxygen in your legs and arms. Two-to-four hours of fasting (or light carbohydrate snacks) before game time are best for peak performance. Don't forget to drink lots of water about an hour before the game. And check you equipment — have two non-cracked sticks, skates that have wheels that turn, etc. You wouldn't want to motor on a cycle with bad wheels right?

3) Leadership: Sorry to do this to you Russ, but just because our players keep doing the wrong things after you tell them time-and-time again, don't give up! I miss your instruction and learn from what you point out to me and the team. Sometimes in the heat of battle, we just forget the basics. We need your attention on us and not the refs! And we will occasionally get things right when you tell us. I don't think we've improved that much that we don't need to hear something from you each shift, not just in-between periods.

4) Defensive hockey: We have few natural goal scorers. I should concentrate more on setting-up scoring opportunities for my teammates, and taking those opportunities away from the other team. That is the sure path to our team winning games. How many of us have caught this bug? How many of us have the skills to back it up? That should determine how we play position or whether we get trapped deep in the offensive zone. Should we have three forwards all within three feet of the net? How many times do we score when that happens? How many times does the other team score on a odd-man rush when that happens? Let's frustrate the hell out of the other team's forwards by standing in their skates and breaking-up their plays. It is more fun to win games all season long then to get the two or three goals most of us are bound to get in a season.

5) “The Pirate Curse”: Well if we keep losing in the 3rd period — like we have for the past year — it means that we are not in shape to play three 15:00 minute periods (and a 5:00 minute overtime if needed). Either that or we are not changing quickly enough to keep fresh for the whole game. If we want to win (and not just look good in all the merchandise that Harris makes for us), something outside of the one or two games a week we play is needed to be added to our routine. Instead of playing Hockey to get into shape, why don't we work to get into shape to play good hockey? Why are we worried about another :30 or :60 seconds on the end of a shift if we are tired? That's when the other team is scoring. Perhaps the most-telling stat would be plus/minus — who's out there when we are getting scored on.

Well not much of a newsletter, but I'm tired of reading about how we were in it, but then we lost. We led by two goals against the Bruins, but we lost 4-3. We had fun for a while I guess ...

John “Wildman” Cassens

LOST 4-3


For his 2-point night
(a goal in the 1st period and an assist in the 2nd).

For scoring on his first shift out — a blast with :10 seconds remaining in the 1st period. (And yes, you owe the 3 beers for showing-up late, Kev!)