It was midway through the second period.
Team Voigt had their best on the ice, trying to score their first goal in a 2-0 game.
They had plenty of chances throughout the game, but we were playing good defense and I was turning away shot after shot.
On this scoring chance, they had 3 players down low around the crease.
The shot came in through traffic to my right, I dropped into Butterfly to stop the shot.
The puck rebounded to an opposing player who quickly got off a shot to my left.
A quick adjustment and that was turned away.
Yet again, the puck found its way to an opponent’s stick.
The short came in hard, but I saw it the whole time and reacted accordingly, turning away yet another shot.
I heard someone yell, “Will you just let something in!”
Another shot, this time it found its way through my 5-hole.
I quickly closed my feet behind me and fell backwards, freezing the puck under me and forcing a whistle to stop play.
4 shots, all in the span of about 3-4 seconds, and all turned away or blocked.
A few years ago, when I was nearly 200 pounds and out of shape, I would not have had the reflexes or endurance to withstand that barrage without letting one by me.
Granted, every day I play a game of Justin vs Time when it comes to athletics.
Age has a way of catching up to all of us eventually.
Someday I won’t have the reflexes to react to the puck or the vision to track the puck so I can make the save, but finding my way back onto the ‘Fitness Train’ has helped me slow down Father Time, so that I can continue to play competitively with ‘kids’ 10-20+ years younger than me.
Sure there are benefits to losing weight, and strengthening your cardiovascular and musculoskeletal systems; such as decreasing your risk of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer, and stroke…just to name a few.
But the primary reason I made fitness a cornerstone of my life again is so that I can continue to participate in the activities that I love, such as hockey, and play at a level that satisfies the competitive spirit within me.
In my mind, I am still that 20-something athlete with Olympic dreams, and I’ll be damned if I am going to let my body tell me something different.
I have mountains in my life I am looking to climb, both literally and figuratively, and a commitment to fitness empowers me push forward towards achieving those goals with a strength and confidence I otherwise would not have.
One of those goals is to be standing between ‘The Pipes’ when I am 70, watching my boys come at me with the puck, and turning away the best that they can throw at me.