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two ways to clean the glass.
1. ask the rink rats and bribe them with something...prints, food, alcohol. tell them where you are shooting from so they can give that piece a good scrub. They have stuff that will take anything off of it, just need to ask and maintain.
2. magic erasers + automotive windshield bug remover + paper towels + clean glass.
MOST IMPORTANT TIP - Shoot straight, editors despise horizons that are off
As for basic tips on shooting. Look at how and where everyone else shoots, go shoot there for a period. During the second period go wonder, shoot from places you don't see others shooting from. grab crowd shots, detail shots, wide angle shots, anything above and beyond the norm. Third period, go sit at the end with the goalie who's team is winning, he'll have the most pressure on him during the third period, especially if its a close game.
white balance, you said you're there early, so during warm up grab a shot of white off the players jersey when he's relaxing at the bench. To be honest though, 7 years of shooting hockey and not once have I ever set a custom wb.
most important though, and I touched on this earlier, if you want to stand out from the crowd then you need to stand away from the crowd.
Hers's a few of my shots that i try to get original with, stuff most people don't shoot.
Yes, I know, I have an issue for b+w hockey...I don't know why I just love it.
When I shoot hockey, I get the action shots, it's dead easy at 12fps. It's the shit away from the game that people notice. When i shoot, I almost bring my wedding mentality to the game, look for the details, the things that people want to remember.
Just have fun though, its a day out with your camera.