July 6, 2013
As members of the University of Michigan ice hockey team participate in different NHL developmental camps and other activities during the summer, the student-athletes will blog about their experiences. Currently, Mac Bennett -- captain of the 2013-14 Wolverines -- is skating at the Montreal Canadiens Development Camp in Brossard, Quebec.
Finally got to scrimmage today and I was so pumped to play in a game. It makes you feel like a kid again, but I'll talk about that later.
Like the past few days, today started at 5:45 a.m. Waking up this early is now second nature and I'm used to it. Getting up this early gives me so much more time in the day. We took a shuttle over to the rink and had breakfast (French toast and berries with oatmeal). Then we hopped onto the soccer field for a quick stretch before jumping onto the ice. It was really hot up here today, and all the heat gets trapped in the soccer field, so we're we sweating before we even started moving.
We jumped onto the ice at 8:15 and started the practice doing some skating drills with Pat Kelly (the skating coach). All of these drills were done at a little slower pace as we had just stepped on the ice. After the skating drills, we warmed up our hands with Sébastien Bordeleau (the skills coach) before getting into the meat of the practice. Since we were playing two games later in the day, our practice was like a morning skate once again. We did some flow drills and some two-on-ones before stretching and getting off the ice. Practice was no longer than an hour, and it was perfect as our legs have been hurting.
After practice, we threw on our workout gear and went over to the gym. Pierre Allard (the strength coach) ran us through a circuit workout that included deadlifts, plyos, ab work, and range of motion exercises. There were two different circuits, and we ran through each circuit four times. After the circuit workout, we went out on the field to run some sprints before hitting the cold tub to help the legs recover.
David Scott is the sports psychologist for the Montreal Canadiens, and we went into an information session with him after our lift. He is one of the most animated speakers I have ever seen, and he's really good at connecting with the players.
An Irishman may not be the prototypical "go-to guy" for hockey, but this individual is the "go-to guy" for talking sports psych. His talk was very interesting and raised some important points on how hard it is to make it to the NHL. He also talked about how important self-motivation and goal-making is in order to accomplish a goal like making it to the NHL. One point that really stuck with me was his idea of making goals that are both reasonable and impossible. Reasonable goals can be used as steps in a ladder toward reaching the impossible, or what may seem like the impossible, later on. This is an idea that I can use not only in hockey but also in life.
After Scotty's talk, we were able to have lunch (meatloaf and potatoes) before heading back to the hotel for an hour-long nap. These mid-day naps have been crucial for me in terms of keeping my energy levels up.
When we got back to the rink, we threw on some workout clothes to get a quick warmup before hitting the ice for two back-to-back scrimmages. The game format was a little bit different than normal. We'd play one 15-minute running time period, followed by a five-man shootout, followed by another 20-minute running time period. We'd play the first game, take about a 30-minute break, and then play the second.
I cannot describe to you how good it felt to be back in a game-like situation. This feeling is the reason I play the game, and there is no way for me to describe it to you in words. I was happy. That's pretty much all you need to know. The first few shifts were "feel out" shifts. I hadn't played in a while, but after a couple of shifts of game action I felt pretty good. Patrice Brisebois, a former Hab turned player-development coach, was constantly reminding me to move my feet. It is my greatest asset. He was right. I did need to move my feet, and as soon I started doing this I felt like my usual self. It was also exciting to be paired up with my former teammate Greg Pateryn. We were able to have some fun, and I'd like to think we haven't lost a step as a D-pairing. I hope it's not the last time we get paired together. We lost the first game on an empty-net goal with 10 seconds left and won the second game. I had an absolute blast, and I can't wait to scrimmage tomorrow and Sunday.
We got off the ice, had a quick eccentric stretching session again (they're hard but feel really good after), and then had dinner (chicken parmesan and pasta with vodka sauce ... I love vodka sauce) before heading back to the hotel.
Right now I'm hanging out with Dalton Thrower, who plays for the Vancouver Giants in the WHL, and Greg Pateryn (who's been reading over my shoulder the whole time while I write this) in my hotel room. Tomorrow we get the morning off and get to sleep in until about 8:30. I'm probably going to be up way before that, but having the time off will be nice.