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by Staff Writer / Los Angeles Kings
The second Beginner's Workshop clinic took place on Sunday, April 6 and I feel we are all slowly but steadily making progress in improving our skating and hockey skills. During the week in-between sessions, I had hoped to get in some practice but I was too sore from last practice to be able to get out on the ice with some of my classmates.

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The evening started off on a high note since I was able to dress much quicker than the previous session (I did practice dressing myself in between sessions) and didn't even break a sweat in putting on all the gear. Fortunately, my gear has yet to incur the stench of broken-in hockey equipment. In case you're wondering what this smells like, here is a little experiment for you at home. Pour milk and yogurt into a large container and cover. Leave unrefrigerated in your kitchen for a week to 10 days, then open cover.

As we waited for the Zamboni to finish re-surfacing the ice, I noticed Daryl squeegee-ing the ice because it was just way too wet out there (who knew ice was made of water?). If you know hockey, wet ice makes the puck stick to the ice instead of glide. This was very noticeable as some of the instructors were trying to stick handle and pass the puck to each other but the puck just would not move. I was a bit worried that we wouldn't be able to handle the puck out on the ice or if we fell, then it would've just been a nice little game of slip n' slide.

The first half of the clinic started with many of the same skating drills we had done in the first week just to loosen up our legs. As I surveyed my fellow classmates, I did notice a few absences, mainly a Mr. Fell. It seemed as if he had "Fellen" out of the class, only to re-appear a few minutes into drills. I felt like I had a good grasp of the skating drills but could definitely still feel the effects of my bruised tail bone, which I hurt the week before. I was a bit tentative with some of the drills because of this but I tried to persevere, that is until we tried our hockey stops (many people believe that learning how to stop is the most important part of skating, I am not one of them, that is what boards, hockey sticks and small children are for).

Personally, I can hockey stop with my right foot forward but have never been able to do much with my left foot forward. I went for it anyways, and let's just say the result wasn't so pretty. I fell hard and when I say hard, I mean HARD!!!!! I felt my neck snap to the side, my wrist bruise up, and that bruising pain reverberate through my tail bone again. OUCH!!!!!! I guess all that equipment and padding doesn't pad you everywhere.

Another highlight of the skating drills was our first attempt at skating backwards. This was quite an adventure for many of the skaters. In showing us how it's done, Daryl really emphasized trying to twist the hips and get on your inside edge. For me, this wasn't too hard since I can sort of skate backwards a little, though I did fear falling on my tail bone again. As I twisted down the ice, I felt like Chubby Checker as I swung my derriere back and forth and side to side and passing many of the skaters who had started before me. I gotta admit that it was pretty fun, I only wish there was music blaring as I got my backwards groove on. Anyways, some of the others were pretty hilarious since one person just remained stationary as he tried to move his feet and another tried to use his stick to propel himself backwards. He looked more like a gondolier floating along on the canals in Venice. However, he didn't quite go anywhere.

About 30 minutes into the clinic, the pucks finally came out of the buckets and onto the ice and we all seemed giddy in looking at these foreign objects (though the little black puck reminded me of a delicious treat, Ding Dongs! I wish the pucks were made of chocolate and creme, it would really add to the sport). We all tried stick handling in front of ourselves and just getting used to the feeling of the pucks. The first thing we did was to skate up and down the ice and try to push the puck in front of us as we moved forward. PIECE OF CAKE! (see, still thinking about delicious Hostess Ding Dongs!)

The instructors had us split into three groups with the beginners in the middle, beginners being those who weren't very good skaters. At my end of the ice, our instructors had us skate towards the blue line and loop back towards the goal with the expectation of receiving a pass from the player on the opposite side of the ice and skate in and take a shot on goal. ONE PROBLEM! we hadn't learned how to pass or receive a puck yet let alone doing so while on the move. As expected, some of the skaters couldn't even get out there to receive the pass and once they got the puck, it just wasn't easy to put a shot on goal. I gotta admit that it was quite an adventure. Since we couldn't quite pass or receive a pass, our next drill was to "dribble" the puck through some cones and then take a shot on goal. Let's just say this drill was much more manageable. Time flew and our one hour on the ice was over. BUMMER!

No clinic this Sunday so we have a week and a half till our next session. That should be plenty of time to recover from the fall. Can't wait till next session on the 16th.

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