The final piece in convincing me to make Aliayah was that I would be able keep playing hockey. At the time we left I was playing at least three times every two weeks. I fell for information about an arena that was supposed to be completed shortly after we arrived near Petach Tikva. When I inquired about it after we landed, the same organization that had information about the arena basically told me it was a figment of my imagination. Our original plans to move to Haifa was greatly motivated by the desire to be near the only hockey rink in Metulah.
With a 3 hour drive to Metulah I ended up not playing as often as I liked. I did not play any hockey from the Tournament (in February) last year until the Thursday before Rachel passed away.
To compensate I have been playing softball for the local team. The league is more competitive than what I am used to in the Shul league in Toronto. There are only 9 batters and 9 fielders in a game and using the bench means making line up substitutions. In my first two seasons we would generally field 9 guys, so playing time was never an issue. This year has been different. We have had at least 10 - 12 players for any given game. They like when I play catcher because the ball doesn't end up at the backstop. I don't really have an arm to throw runners out. If there is no other catcher they like me to play defence. There isn't even room to have me play my preferred position at 2nd base. I was only getting token at bats for showing up, which doesn't allow me to improve as the season moves along. I decided to skip this weeks game even though I had babysitting in place because I was tired of feeling inconsequential to the team I am paying money to be on.
I was really excited for the new hockey rink. Today was the first chance to play. I made sure that I was slotted in between the pipes for the first game. I need to put together a babysitting/sleepover schedule as they will use that to help set the goalie rotation. It is all real exciting.
The rink is basically a skating rink that they have adapted with a scoreboard, benches and glass in order to allow hockey to be played. While they have a couple of party rooms with big open windows they don't have any change rooms. The benches on the bottom left is where we got changed. The rink is small, so we had to play 4 on 4 hockey. It meant we had a really fast paced game with the major drawback being if you were not careful a missed centring pass could end up in your own net.
I was dressed ready to go as the Zamboni was busy clearing the ice. I was literally bouncing up and down with excitement. The quality of the ice was good. It took me some time to really get warmed up, which is much faster than I expected given I haven't skated in 3 months. I made a ton of really quality saves including a sliding toe save to what the shooter had thought was an empty net. There were rushes where I made 5, 6, 7 or more saves in a row before freezing the puck or having it cleared. Of course I always love when a player swears because you just messed him up and then congratulates me for making the play. After almost 100 minutes on the ice I was still pumped and having a great time.
Hockey is fun and a great stress release for me. Rachel knew that and was very supportive as long as I didn't take it to extremes. I am so happy that I can bring hockey back into my life on a regular basis. I hope I will be able to make it to the hockey tournament in Metulah next year.