Hockey Withdrawal: It’s Real and It Bites

I live in a hockey-crazy corner of New England. Within a 50-minute drive of my house there are 6 ice rinks, not to mention the many frozen ponds that grace the Upper Valley.

For seven months a year, I play an average of 10 hours of hockey per week, with the opportunity to play many more. It’s my idea of Hockey Heaven.

But, somehow, bewilderingly, there are NO year-round rinks here in the Upper Valley. My rinkrat paradise is seasonal. Come April each year, I begin to dread the day they turn off the compressors and let the ice melt.

Once the compressors are turned off, the ice melts quickly...

Once the compressors are turned off, the ice melts quickly…

Just as the rest of New England is rejoicing at the return of warmer weather, I am suddenly cut off from my favorite activity. Just like that. Cold turkey.

It’s worst in the first week. I am restless, listless. I am antsy, unable to focus and vaguely irritable. I am deep in the throes of hockey withdrawal.

Within my hockey circles, no one doubts that hockey withdrawal is real. We all search for some combination of “off-season” activities that never quite seem to fill the place of hockey.

Campion Rink "Closed for the Season" sign is a sad sight...

Campion Rink “Closed for the Season” sign is a sad, sad sight…

It’s not just missing the game itself, which is, arguably, the most fun game ever.

There’s the resulting decrease in feel-good endorphins, since it’s hard to maintain 10 hours of activity per week if it feels more like work and less like play.

There’s the disruption of my routine, leaving huge holes that I don’t have energy to fill.

Playing hockey 10 hours/week means I can sneak in some extra chocolate in season.

Playing hockey 10 hours/week means I can sneak in some extra chocolate in season.

There’s the disheartening need to change my diet to reflect reduced caloric needs, or else risk gaining 10-20 pounds, easy. I like food. Playing lots of hockey requires me to eat lots of food. It’s hard to dial back my eating habits.

Most of all, though, there’s the loss of community. Hockey is a team sport. You need hockey buddies to pass the puck & make plays with. You need hockey buddies to score against.

Team Red of Campion Rink's 2013 April Showers mini-tournament.

Team Red of Campion Rink’s 2013 April Showers mini-tournament.

It’s a social game, with unique communication happening often wordlessly on the ice.
Plus, plenty of antics and banter from the bench.

Coach Pollard perfects his photobomb technique at the rink!

Coach Pollard perfects his photobomb technique at the rink!

Thankfully, I’ve got one last hockey hurrah this weekend: a women’s tournament with my Growlers team up in Burlington, VT.

One last, sweet taste of hockey before the long drought of Summer. And I intend to savor every last drop of it.

What about you? How do YOU handle hockey withdrawal??

Up, Up Deep Purple!

Tonight, my bottom-of-the-league hockey team, Deep Purple, has a round one playoff game versus the top team, the Red Devils.

Carrie Cahill Mulligan skates with team Deep Purple in the 2012 Campion Hockey League, near Hanover, NH.

Trying to get lower — hockey skating requires single leg strength & stability.

This is my 3rd winter playing in the CHL (Campion Hockey League), and I won’t lie. With our 1-19-1 record, it’s been a character-building year.

We’re an expansion team, made up entirely of folks who’d never played together before. Ever. Some players had only a year or 2 experience as adult beginners before signing up.

There were some ugly losses early on. Ugly.

Carrie Cahill Mulligan of team Deep Purple squares off against Rob Callow of the Screaming Eagles, Campion Hockey League (CHL), Lebanon, New Hampshire.

Keep your head up to read the play & try to anticipate your opponent’s moves.

But, as the season progressed, so did we. Games got much closer as players got more confident and put more pucks on net.

Hockey is a funny game. Sometimes you get a lucky bounce. Hard work can beat talent, if talent doesn’t work hard.

Carrie Cahill Mulligan of team Deep Purple rushes the net to support the puck in the 2013 Campion Hockey League, near Hanover, New Hampshire.

Rushing the net without the puck supports the play and helps generate secondary scoring chances. (Keep your stick on the ice, though.)

Would I bet money on my #8 team tonight? Maybe not.

But I wouldn’t bet against us, either. You just never know. Hockey is a funny game.