As someone who's never played ice hockey and has skated as many times as Crazy Town has topped the Billboard charts (that would be one time), I found myself with one burning question concerning the sport: Is it harder to play hockey or to wake up at the ass-crack of dawn to play hockey?
Turns out, neither is easy.
I arrived at the rink with the clock boasting 6:45 a.m. and laughing at me. The team was completing one of its two weekly practices. Those poor guys had been gamin' it up for an hour before I even arrived. I quickly strapped on a rather smelly borrowed set of pads and laced up the skates (shout out to my buddy Drew for being nearly the same size as me) and glided out onto the slippery surface of death.
Unbalanced and unsure of myself, I quickly fell on my face. Seriously, ice is dangerous. Why else would people sprinkle salt on their sidewalks every winter? Because they want it gone, that's why.
But not John Melendez. The UM senior has been a skating fool for more than a decade. He passed me a puck, which very nearly toppled me from my precariously balanced position. This guy could skate circles around me and he proved it — by skating circles around me.
I haphazardly hucked a couple pucks in the general direction of the goal. I actually wasn't too awful as long as I didn't have to move. My pucks sashayed over the frozen ground into the net (or at least near it) more often than not. John threw a wrench into my ego-boosting activity by inviting goalie Devin Sutton to join our shootaround.
John, a forward (that means he's good at scoring), flung pucks at the net minder shootout-style, making about half. I also made a shot, but admittedly, Devin flopped in the crease and just lay there so all I had to do was not hit his gigantic goalie pads. Easier said than done, but I managed to make it. And then fall down.
Next came the foot race or skate race or whatever. But this hockey hound could fly on ice while I could, err, sort of stagger. To even the score a bit, John agreed to circumnavigate the rink while I'd do only about 40 percent. We set our marks, readying for the countdown.
Three, two … I took off, pushing as fast as I could, a solid second and a half head start on top of my half-rink one. I nailed the straightaway, cruising like I was Apolo Anton Ohno. Going into the turn, I could hear John gaining ground. The more I struggled trying to adjust my momentum to go to the right (stupid momentum), the nearer John crept. I saw the finish and heard a much faster skater tearing up the ice behind me.
I began to panic; this was terrifyingly similar to my recurring dream of being chased by Velociraptors on ice! I reached out for the line — meaning I started to fall — and lunged forward to "win" the race.
I was exhausted, using dozens of muscles I didn't even know I had, and probably bruised from spending half my time on the ice on my ass. But I'd done it; I'd just hockey-ed, knife-booted, walked on frozen water. And now I was ready to go back to bed.
For video of AJ Versus hockey and to see AJ get body checked, log onto MontanaKaimin.com/multimedia.