Wednesday, November 14, 2012

I'm the Swedish Peter Forsberg

Last month, my neighbor asked if I had any interest in playing innebandy (  Without knowing exactly what it was, I said yes and started asking my coworkers once I got in to the office.  Turns out it is indoor floor hockey, Swedish style.  This is evidently a huge deal here, and they actually have a semi-pro league that runs in the winter.  Also, every swede I told about my invitation just said to be careful, that innebandy gets pretty physical and to make sure I “bring my elbows”.  So I was a little nervous, but got myself mentally ready to rough up some Viking if need be…. 

The first Wednesday, they only had 5 people able to play, so it was cancelled last minute (minimum of 6). 

The second Wednesday, I decided to go to drink beers and watch fotbol with work buddies.

Today was the third Wednesday, and it was GAME ON

A few random observations from the hour long game:

  • Just to start off, it was AWESOME.  I am in from now on, each Wednesday.  Looking forward to next week already.

  • They play the game in the school gymnasium right next to our house.  Literally less than a  2 minute walk.  The gym has interconnected soft “jersey-barrier” type walls that we were able to put in a rink shape.  The whole rink was a little bigger than a basketball court.

  • The goals were tiny – maybe up to my knee in height and 2 feet wide.  No official goalie, but one defensive player was always standing in front of the net.

  • Evidently I hold a hockey stick the wrong way????  I’ve never really “played hockey”, just played in driveways or gym class – maybe a (very) little intramural league in college.  But at least I knew how to hold a stick, right.  WRONG.  My neighbor let me borrow his sons stick (a 13 yr old, so already a little smaller than I would normally use), and I realized that it curved the opposite way than I was expecting.  I asked him if his son was a lefty and he (and the other 2-3 guys there at that point) looked at me like I was an idiot.  Evidently, a right handed innebandy player holds the stick with his left hand lower?  Again, I am not a lifelong hockey player, but I have always played with my right hand lower.  So not only was I playing with a short stick, but I was doing it completely opposite to how I felt comfortable – after not playing hockey for a decade.  Oh, and I had found out that these Swedes have basically played since they were 5 years old.  This was obviously the high point of my confidence….

  • Luckily, things got better at that point.  While I haven’t played a lot of hockey, I have played enough basketball and water polo (badly, but still) so that I could see the passing lanes and where the players were going without the ball.  This allowed me to play some pretty good defense, get some fast breaks started and basically just disrupt things.

  • The flip side was that as soon as I started to touch the ball, my body reminded me that I was holding it the wrong way and it was too short, and that I didn’t know how to play hockey anyways.  So yeah, I had a few swings and misses.  My best bet were one-timers, just walloping the crap out of the ball as it was being passed to me.  The less I actually had to control the ball, the better I was.  I was also able to use my Gretzky-like court vision to pass the ball to teammates pretty well (when given approximately 15 feet of space from the defenders who knew I couldn’t do anything with the ball).  So all in all, I ended up with 1 goal and 2 assists.  Pretty solid day for no experience.

  • Also, I have a new “MOST SWEDISH THING EVER” that took place.  My team one the first game 3-0.  Their team one the second game 3-2.  Each of those games took 20 minutes or so, so we had time for one more tiebreaker game, right.  WRONG.  We all threw our sticks in the middle of the rink and picked COMPLETELY new teams for the third game.  Evidently we were all pleased that we ended 1-1, and so this last game was just fun.  I have never seen anything like this before and it really messed me up in my head….

  • Overall, this was a ton of fun though.  The running was legit and I was shocked when I first looked at the clock and only 15 minutes had gone by.  Once I get an actual stick that works, I’ll be locked in.  And it’s always a good sign when Swedes ask you afterwards how long you played hockey for back in the states...
Can't wait for next week!

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