Many of us grew up scoring a thousand glorious NHL goals in our minds, and on our streets and corner rinks. We won the Stanley
Cup over and over--in our imaginations. What happened to those
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Hockey game, Brossard, 1972.
Here are some real-life hockey stories.
"The hottie is wrecking my mojo."
That's what I'm thinking as I skate down the ice. And that is not a good thought to have. To my mind, nearly any thought is bad. I prefer to just be in the moment-to-moment pace of the game, reacting to whatever situation I'm in. If I think too much — either about what's going on, or about anything outside of the game — I tend to screw up.
I'm a beer leaguer, but I love the sport, and I've been playing a long time. So though my ability to see the ice is still far better than what my hands and feet will actually do for me, I do alright when simply reacting as plays develop.
Hockey is one of the few things in my life that generally allows me this hyper-aware, almost meditative focus. I don't empty my mind per se while skating. Rather, I empty my mind of all things not happening right then and there on the ice — an act that frees me tremendously from the stress of adult life.
So, you can perhaps understand my red-blooded, heterosexual dismay when, say, a good-looking young Swedish lass skates with us — as one occasionally does.
(Photo: telegraph.co.uk. Original source here))
Her mere presence antagonizes me, throws me off my game. Thought creeps in. At times, even, the sorts of thoughts for which former US President Jimmy Carter was apt to apologize publicly.
And it's not just me. I've skated with the same Wednesday night group of guys for more than a half dozen years, and women sometimes skate with us. We're all of varying skill levels, from high school hacks to guys who played Canadian juniors. It's a good, competitive skate, with a nice pace to it. Without showing anyone else up, guys don't tend to give lesser-skilled players a break. But for the hotties.
This current one plays alright positionally, but she's not very quick on her feet, and for that, we tend to give her a bit more of a chance than we would show any of the less-skilled guys who regularly skate. Is it sexist and slightly pandering? That's a discussion for another day. I just know it's different.
Doing anything athletic with women is fairly new to me. (That is, to say, in a group setting. Ahem.) And hockey doesn't generally lend itself to coed play, despite what those sophomoric '90s college t-shirts might have had you believe. Softball, sure, but that's a sport one can play recreationally while drinking a beer. Hockey's innate physicality makes coed play difficult, as even in non-checking games, there is plenty of incidental contact. Sure, there is bulky gear involved, so any male-female physicality is relative (as opposed to the closeness of a basketball court, where tight one-on-one defense is essentially groping). But still.
When I sit next to guys on the bench, we tend to smell like rotting pig stink. But even under all the same gear, women manage to smell like women. And that throws me.
I grew up playing team sports. After a 10-year lull during college and grad school, it was great, during my late twenties, to get back into the group dynamic of team sports while playing in an organized soccer league. The league was coed, and that was fine. I was single, and well, none of my teammates were exactly Keira Knightley.
But soccer led me back to hockey, and hockey has now put me, a handful of times, in a sweaty locker room with women. And that creates a strange dynamic, in a place that has been one of the few man-caves in which I regularly hang out. Not to get all drum-thumping about male bonding, but I do enjoy the camaraderie, and the moment women enter that world, sex enters into it — adding a certain stress into my sole stress-free activity.
Hockey has always been sacrosanct for me in that way. More so than anything I've done, it has always provided a break from all things sexual in life. Playing soccer as a teenager, I was always aware that the girls' teams were practicing on nearby fields, and always in part was hoping to somehow look cool even as I was playing. But in the early days of Title IX, aside from the occasional figure skater, women were only ever at ice rinks for actual games — and conveniently scheduled prime-time games at that.
I don't know; maybe sports in this new millennium have entered a post-gender realm. Maybe I just need to look past attractive women and rise above what seems, at times like these, my biological handicap.
Ach. Maybe I'm just a crotchety middle-aged married guy with too much to say about this.
Förlåt, Swedish girl. Jag förstår inte. So, go ahead, play on. Play with us, even. But skate with your head up. And dammit, if I can see your eyeliner, you're too close.
I played hockey in the hotbed (!) of La Habra, California. I am one of eight kids, five boys and three girls, all but one of whom played hockey. Why did we play? My dad was a native of New Jersey where he lettered in Football and Lacrosse at Rutgers but also dabbled in hockey. When a retired Canadian moved to town he built a rink in the hope of bringing the sport to my country. My dad couldn't get us there fast enough. He even joined the "huff and puff" adult league as a goalie. We all loved the game, but we had little support from our neighborhood friends or classmates. None of my friends knew what I was talking about when I would relive my hockey heroics at school on Monday. While most kids in our neighborhood had pools in their backyards we had two homemade nets and a stash of sticks and pucks. (Real pucks that regularly damaged our fences).
One story that particularly stands out in my head was when a neighbor with an adjoining backyard came and knocked on the door. We thought we were in trouble, but to our surprise what the man wanted to know was what the heck was going on in our back yard. He had a few months before spent thousands of dollars on an impressive pool with a slide and diving board in his backyard but didn't get a fraction of the laughter and excitement from his kids as he heard from our yard. What did my dad put in our yard and where could he get it? What shock it was for him when he saw two rickety nets, no grass and black rubber pucks. Perhaps we should have called it the Mariposa Street Omni, but we didn't. It was simply the rink. We played full contact, no helmets, sometimes gloves, sometimes not but always with passion.
We also knew about the wider hockey world. We followed the Summit Series, but it was hard as there was little to no coverage of it other than weekend sports shows on ABC, and literally none of my friends cared. I consider Paul Henderson a hero of mine as we were always happy to see the Russians lose and hoped for hockey to become more popular because of it. I've seen Phil Esposito's speech many times and was on his side as I was a Bruins fan way back when. I was a defenseman and Bobby Orr on the ice was like looking into a mirror. (My wife laughs when I say this; she’s seen me play.)
I grew up a Kings fan and got to go to a lot of games. My youth hockey team, the Whittier La Habra Polar Kings, got to play at the Forum before a couple of games and then play an exhibition between periods for the crowd. To play in an NHL rink was a great thrill. I lived and died with the Kings and suffered through years of falling short of greatness. When the Kings played Toronto in the Conference Final I was on a camping trip with my wife's family and had to convince the campground’s rec room occupants that we really needed to watch hockey. They did and I got more than a few odd looks from the crowd as I think many of them had never seen hockey before and couldn't believe my enthusiasm for this spectacle they were watching.
My older brother was living in Ottawa at the time and actually was in the crowd for game seven in Toronto. As he puts it, "I was the only Kings fan in the building and after they won I was afraid to go out to my car with the California plates on it". He got out okay but only because he walked out with Pat Burns, and he has the autographed ticket to prove it. To this day I don't know if Pat Burns saved him or my brother saved him. Whichever way around, it still makes a good story!
And not to leave her out, I introduced my wife to hockey while we were dating at a Kings versus Russian Red Army game. She's been hooked ever since and has been a Ducks fan from the Ducks--Red Wings game in October of 1993.
I grew up in Indianapolis, Indiana in the late 70's and early 80's. Hockey was a foreign word to the people in Indy until a young kid named Wayne Gretzky came to play with the Indianapolis Racers of the WHA in 1978. Even though "The Great One" only played 8 games before Indy had to close up shop (I think he played 5 home and 3 road games total), the spark that 99 brought to Indy lit a fire of interest in me.
The Racers tried as hard as they could to get the fans to come see this young kid who had came down from Canada, but the WHA ended up merging into the NHL before the hype could be seen in person. I quickly latched onto the Pittsburgh Penguins as my team of choice. Why--I have no idea, but I've been a true fan ever since. The rough years were hard to take, but the good years made up for it. I was in high school when the Pens won back-to-back Stanley Cups, and I can remember wearing my Pens jersey to school and having people ask me what team the jersey was from.
In 1988, the Indianapolis Ice came to town, and began playing at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. Finally, there was a local hockey club. My father and I never really got along, so I started hanging out with my Grandpa after my Grandma passed away in 1991. My mother worked for the main sponsor of the Indianapolis Ice, and could get tickets for any home game we wanted. So my Grandpa and I started going to Ice games just about every weekend. He and I built a friendship that I honestly think was stronger than any other friendship that I have had, or will ever have, in my entire life. He was a great man who turned me into what I am today. He was such an influence on my life, and I loved him so much, that I named my son after him in 2001. He passed away in the fall of 2006, and even as I write this nearly a year and a half later, I feel my heart hurting and the tears won't hold back.
I never had a chance to play hockey when I was a kid because Mom and Dad couldn't afford it, but when my son and I went to our first Indiana Ice game when he was 4 years old, I knew that he was going to want to play someday. I realized that the game had sparked that fire in him when he started asking if we could buy sticks and pucks and play in the basement. I knew that if he wanted to play, I was going to make it happen - no matter the cost.
Sure enough, within a year he was lacing 'em up for his first Mini-Mite practice. Since I never played when I was a kid, I had no idea how to skate. But when he asked if I could be a coach for his team, I went out and bought a pair of skates and stepped onto the ice for the first time just like he had done a few week prior. It was a rough first month, but I've been coaching now for two years. Coaching has turned into a passion of mine, and I look forward to practice every week just so I can jump on the ice and act like a hockey player for an hour.
Monday nights are hectic with picking my son up from school, racing home to grab a snack and the hockey bag, and speeding over to the rink so we can be on the ice for practice by 5:30pm, but we love it. The alarm goes off at 5:30am on Saturdays so we can be to the rink in time for the puck to drop at 7:00am for games, but we love it. Every night the channel guide pops up on the TV to find out who's playing on the NHL Center Ice package that night, and we love it. And when we’re not watching hockey on TV, my wife is yelling at us for hitting pucks in the house, and we love it.
I have a lot of memories that surround the game of hockey, but every time I step on the ice with my son I begin a new favorite memory. And every time my son asks if the Pens play tonight, and every time he asks if we can go to the basement and hit pucks at the goal we have down there, and every time he asks if the Ice play at home this weekend, and every time he asks me to tell him who won the game tomorrow morning because it’s his bedtime, and every time he asks me to tape his stick (even though it doesn't need it), and every morning I get to wake him up and every night I get to tuck him in and every moment in between are my favorite memories as well.
Jason M. Semmler
In 1998-99, I was at a school council meeting with a guy I recognized but couldn't put identify. Later I found out that it was Jim Kyte. Guess what? Jim Kyte had a beer in my kitchen after a school BBQ!!!
That's my favourite hockey story; well after my cousin Marc Crawford won the cup with Colorado.
We grew up in Ottawa in the shadow of our cousins the Crawfords. We excelled in music while they excelled at hockey, but we only realized that after our teen years, when Bobby and Marc were drafted; and Peter and Michael were in the US on hockey scholarships.
My only regret in terms of hockey was that I never got a chance to even skate with any of them, especially Bobby who was such a great skater. We did play together as kids play in our younger years in Belleville, Ottawa, Montreal and Chicoutimi at our grandparents’ and each aunt's and uncle's place, but we never skated or got on the ice with them as kids.
However, I came close last November. I was at a conference in San Francisco, and I stopped in LA before coming back home. I spent 3 days with Marc and family and the LA Kings. I spent those days at both the Staples and the Toyota Sports Centers. At my age I was more impressed with the coaching staff than the players. Imagine, me chatting with Bill Ranford, Dave Lewis, etc., even Jimmy Fox. We chatted about his junior days with the Ottawa 67's, Brian Kilrea, and the decision to make LA his home.
Maybe I could have skated with Marc, or even the team, had they not lost badly the night before to the Ducks 6-3. Friday's practice was pretty intense. Then they lost to Pheonix 1-0. I thought for sure I had cursed the team, but I did get to see Wayne and Janet, and Grant Fuhr, after the Saturday game.
Plus, I got to hang around with Jimmy, Daryl Evans, and other people from the team, including Luc Robitaille (he seemed happy to speak French with me).
All in all, it was a hockey dream come true.
Denis de Grandmont Ottawa, Ontario
Growing up in southern California, hockey was not a popular game until the Gretzky trade.
I played ice and roller my entire life, but my best friend and his two little brothers did not. Then there was a street hockey craze in ‘91 and ‘92. That Christmas my best friends all got Mylec hockey sticks and rollerblades. From then on every night we would play either in front of my house at night or my friend’s. Sometimes we would go to the local park and play on the cement slab between the tennis courts. We even made our own nets out of Duct Tape and PVC pipe and would throw our sticks at people on breakaways
The teams were simple. My best friend and I versus his brother Adam and his three friends that lived across the street. Now me being a player with a lot of experience and also being five years older than the other team is why it was two guys against four.
The third Brother Josh was four years younger than Adam. And honestly we really did not want him to play. In fact he was small, left handed, not the best skater in the world, and had a pink stick. Then one night their mom was tired of Josh being home and forced us to let him play.
We fought for 35 minutes on whose team he would be on. Finally EP (Erine Paul) and I decided to take Josh on our team. We figured what the hell. We are sick of fighting and just want to play.
That night we saw something we never thought would happen. The kid played great. He was the best defensive player I ever saw. In fact we would always start the game at 8:15pm and the game would end when the Disneyland fireworks would go off around 9:30. The scores were usually 15-11 or 21-17.
That night we were up 15-0.
Josh had shut down the back for us. We were up so big that Adam and his team quit by 9:00.
From that day on we would fight for Josh. And just about every night he played for the other team we would lose.
This went on for about two years then we slowly stopped playing as EP and I ventured deeper into High School and started playing Soccer and Football and BB Gun wars. Since then Josh has become a pretty good goaltender.
Now today in our Late 20's and early 30's EP and I are still best friends. Many changes have happened in our lives. We have both gotten married I have had a child and both of us lost our Mom's to cancer. But we still sit over a beer or a round of golf and talk about his brothers and how Josh was the little brat that tagged along with us.
Looking back at it all, those were some of the best times of my life and I look back now and say I would relive it all in a heartbeat.
Josh, you will always have a spot on my blueline.
La Mirada California
The game of hockey was always in my life for as long as I can remember. I was fortunate enough to be the first person in either family to strap on the blades and play hockey. However my hockey experiences are not of cheering for the local Toronto Maple Leafs or even another Canadian team. I was Bruins fan first and foremost. But before I became aware of the Bruins I was a Kitchener Ranger fan. This was in part due to the fact that I lived in Kitchener but also because my parents got involved with the team before I was born.
Ever since I was little I had a new brother every year or two. We participated in a time-honoured tradition of billeting Junior A hockey players. It started before I was born and continued until we moved out of Kitchener to Woodstock. Now I didn’t have my ‘big brother’ in the house. This was when I was on my own to forge my own career as a hockey player. I started playing hockey in Woodstock with Peanuts and continued to my first All-Star team.
Lo and behold my Dad was transferred back to Waterloo, which is right beside Kitchener. I resumed my hockey career there and my parents got back into billeting. Now I was old enough to sit and talk hockey with those guys that were now only a few years older than I was. It was an amazing experience living with those guys and following their careers after they left the OHL. A few have made some strides in the NHL and some have not. I am still in contact with some of the guys and they have an assorted number of careers and locations. Some are coaching hockey in the OHL, some are playing in the AHL, and some are in the NHL, and some are out of hockey all together.
But that is not what I remember about them. I remember playing shinny with them on the outdoor rink and playing ball hockey with the other kids on my street.
Now onto my hockey, the one thing I remember most about playing hockey is the mini-stick tournaments we used to have in hotel hallways when we were away for a weekend. Or the father and son game we played at the end of our season as younger kids. I also remember all the locations I have played and the different atmosphere every arena had. I was fortunate to be able to play in some of the old-style arenas like the Perry Street Arena in Woodstock, The Memorial Arena (aka The Bubble) in Waterloo. I have fond memories of playing in many of those arenas.But one stands out. The arena in Acton made us feel like we were playing in an NHL game of our own. Every kid that was a hockey fan knew that in Chicago the players had to walk up a flight of stairs to get to the ice, and in Acton so did we. I remember our excitement at climbing the stairs and slowly seeing the arena unfold before our eyes. It is a moment that will never be forgotten.
Once my playing career was over or at least the road to the NHL was closed, I decided to take up coaching and give back to the game I had enjoyed so much. It was my turn to help teach and assist kids in developing their skills and love of the game. This might be more fun than I had anticipated. I coached with an ex-coach of mine. He taught me how to teach the kids what you want them to do, and the best way to get across to each kid. I now am living in a new city and don’t have anyone to coach with, so I am waiting for a day when and if I have kids to get back into coaching.
Earlier I stated that I could not remember my favourite hockey moment. And this remains true, but I have played with so many different players over the years, and even now when I see them we still share a special bond that only teammates have. I do share one custom with my parents that will live on forever. We always make sure that on Boxing Day we get together and watch the World Junior Tournament. We always do it and always will.
Sometimes, I think I grew up in the wrong generation now that we have so many more options when it comes to sports, video games, and hobbies. I am a die-hard hockey fan who orders NHL Centre Ice so I can follow my Bruins every game, and even watch other teams just because I can. I am constantly wondering if I should have been around in the times of the Original Six. Not that hockey doesn’t have a major role in today’s Canada; but hockey used to be way of life from what I hear.
I am a hockey lover, not because I still hold a dream that I will raise the Stanley Cup but because this game of hockey is not just a game to me anymore. Hockey has given me much more then I could ever repay.
Growing up hockey was getting it started; now I am still living hockey. And that should be every hockey lover’s dream.
My mother told me that my birth was particularly painful for her. It could have been the hockey stick gripped tightly in my fists as I entered the world. It was small town Saskatchewan in the late 50's and early 60's where my appreciation and love of the game was fostered. There were two arenas in town, one indoor and one outdoor, both with natural ice, so the quality of the ice was dependent on the weather. Our desire to play was never dictated to by the weather as we were playing table hockey in severe weather, and street hockey when there was no ice to be had, whether due to scheduling or summer heat.
We had some very dedicated hockey fathers in our little town so anybody involved in organised hockey got to attend annual awards banquets in the United Church basement hall. It was here that I got to meet Gordie Howe, Saskatchewan born andraised, and get his autograph. (I now live two blocks from a school named Gordie and Colleen Howe Middle School.)
One of my best friends who had the same first name as me lived in the house where Bobby Baun had been born, and in 1964 when Bobby helped the Leafs to their victory while playing on a broken ankle, it only confirmed that I was destined to be a Leaf fan for the rest of my life. I was already a Toronto fan, mainly because me and my buddies could not bring ourselves to cheer for a bunch of guys who could not spell 'Canadians' correctly.
As I grew to love the Leafs, I had a particular admiration for Johnny Bower, the great Leaf goaltender. His courage using the poke check while playing maskless was what hockey was all about for me. So, when the Leafs won the first of three consecutive Stanley Cups in 1962, my hero worship was at it zenith. The well-worn table hockey game had only Leaf players on it. We did not play other teams as nobody wanted to be 'the other team'. It ended up being a scrimmage of the two top Toronto lines. And Johnny was in both nets!
Summer of '62 came and our family went on vacation to Prince Albert National Park. In the resort town of Waskesui, we rented a cabin, and one morning my dad announced that he was taking me out for breakfast. This had never happened in my entire life and I was thrilled. We went to a humble-looking establishment with a simple white sign above the door "Johnny's Place". We walked in and sat at the counter, the kind they have in small diners.
A fellow came out from the kitchen, wearing a tall starched chef's hat and asked us what we would like to order. I do not have a clue what I had for breakfast that morning. What I do remember is the big grin on my dad's face as the look on my face probably indicated that a big light bulb had just lit up.
My first thought was, "The guys at school are never going to believe that Johnny Bower cooked me a breakfast." I recognized him immediately, and was struck by two things. The scars on his face, which only raised his stock in my estimation of him, and the fact that he was doing something so humble as frying eggs and flipping pancakes for ordinary Joes like me.
What I did not realise at the time was that these superstars were not really paid all that well in those days and they had to take on jobs when off the ice. As much as I still love the game today, I have been jaded by some of the things that take place. That’s why I am so grateful for the memories that help me put the game back into a proper perspective. When I travel outside of Canada and search for hockey news, I realise how much it is a part of being Canadian, and how much a part of me hockey really is.
Can you imagine how it is for an American who lives and loves the game? We don't have Hockey Night in Canada. Nor do we see much hockey info in our local papers. Now can you imagine being a competitive hockey player, a 43 year-old Mom, and living in a town of 70,000? My life here is just unreal.
Women have never seen a hockey player who can also bake chocolate chip cookies. When I coach my two kids things are a bit more settled. The other coaches treat me right. Or is it just the pixie dust that comes off of my skates every time I slide along that ice? When I’m on the rink, my center of gravity is in tune with the world and life is good. Once I leave the rink things get a bit fuzzy. What do I wear? Do I wear green socks with green pants? Should I add product to my hair? It is never-ending.
I usually end up rebelling at all of this mom-related stuff. Sometimes I wear an old hockey jersey to pick up the kids (imagine the horror!!). But I also realize that life is a maze of options. I admit to times of wishing to be like the real hockey moms. But once again a good game of hockey washes all of those thoughts away. I am different and I am trying to raise my kids that it is OK to be different.
My husband and I built a house in a "fancy-pants" part of town. When we moved in here I was so nervous about shooting pucks (balls) at our garage. I used to hide in the garage when I saw the fashionable neighbors approaching our house. Thank God we live at a dead-end road so I could quickly grab my stick and hide in the garage as all of the women came by. Needless to say, my secret eventually came out as our garage has lots of dents in it.
The ladies still are not quite sure what to think of me, but I no longer have to hide my shooting ability.
What is my greatest hockey moment? This question caught me strangely off guard. Kind of like preparing for a job interview with all the cold numerical data representing your previous employment and education, and then suddenly being hit with an abstract question like: “What do you feel was your greatest accomplishment in your last job?” Your first gut reaction thought that comes to mind, “Hmmm, well…I successfully resisted the urge to choke some of my co-workers…,” probably wouldn’t land you the position.
Truth is, I realized that I don’t really have a greatest moment. All my moments with hockey are great. While that may sound like a bit of deke on my part, it truly isn’t.
I never got the opportunity to play on a team or in a league, so there are no moments of scoring that perfect goal or winning a championship. I lived in the country and had my own pond. There was not a great abundance of other kids around to play hockey with, so much of my time was alone. Just me, a stick, a puck, a net, my skates and the ice. Any game-winning goals were just in my mind. The roar of the winter wind was a cheering crowd in my ears. My stick raised in victory. On the trees standing around the pond, only a few remaining leaves to applaud my accomplishment.
As a fan I could pull out the obligatory “the day my team won the Stanley Cup….” And it really was a great day that my Wings shook a four-decade drought. But it was tempered with the fact that once again I felt alone, exiled from my beloved Hockeytown, to the vast hockey wasteland that is the Pacific Northwest. The mood would be shattered a few days later with the limo crash that would cripple Vladimir Konstantinov. This would lead of course to my favorite, if however bittersweet, NHL moment that I watched live: when the Red Wings repeated and brought Vladdy out on the ice with the rest of his teammates to receive the cup. Hollywood couldn’t have invented a better story. Not a dry eye in the house.
But my best hockey memories are those I have made with my family. Be it skating at the local rink, going to games, or just playing ball hockey in the cul-de-sac. I have a good job now that I am really happy with. (And I’m pleased to report that I like my co-workers and have no violent urges whatsoever!) It was my first time having my own office, and I was a little unprepared with the usual decorations that people often display. I went home and began a mad search for the family photos that I knew I wanted. As luck would have it I found one of my favorites, already in a frame and collecting dust on my dresser. It’s of me and my son from a trip back to Michigan for Christmas a few years back.
We are on the pond that I grew up on, bundled up and wearing skates from my mom’s attic. Clutching battered sticks, we crouch in a pose repeated on countless hockey cards. The photo is the first to adorn my office. And it sits there looking across at me as if to say, “Here’s your answer.”
Now I realize that the time I’ve spent with my son, passing along the love of the game, just like my father did for me, is my best hockey moment. I know that might sound corny and sentimental. And it might defy the conventional definition of moment. But if a snapshot is a moment frozen in time then that is my moment. And I’m fortunate enough to have a lot of them!
Hockey, for me, was a constant. Not an annoying "buzz" from the soon to burn out lightpost, or the cicada buzz on a hot summer's day. It was just a constant, like bologna sandwiches on monday and peanut butter on tuesday for lunch.
I was the only girl on my street, so to "go outside and play" meant playing with the boys. I did my share of cowboys and indians, superheros ( I was the "6 Million Dollar Woman" a few years before Jamie Summers and the Bionic Woman hit the airwaves) and I stood my share of being "the kid stuck in goal" while the boys took shots on me. And I remember coming home with my leotards full of runs from trying to flop down to stop the orange ball(without any road hockey goalie pads, just a goalie stick) and having to face my mother, " Mom, I wanted to play with the kids and they made me play goal. Its not my fault. "
I remember the outdoor rink at the University where my mother worked. We would go to family skate every saturday throughout the winter and I would go 'round and 'round and once in a while would sit taking a rest on one of the old wooden covered player's benches and watching everyone go 'round and 'round ( why is it people always turn counter clockwise during open skate? ).
I remember my grade 8 teacher teaching us "hockey math" to cover the grade 8 math curriculumn. All of the alegebra was set to hockey related questions.
Now I make new memories, and Hockey is closer then ever as I take my son to his travel hockey games and out of town tournaments. I now get to live the memories that were only vague shadows in my youth as I listened to the chatter of the boys as they blasted yet another orange ball past my leg into the open corner of the old road hockey net.
In middle school's physical education class, you got to play all kinds of sports--soccer, basketball, tennis, badminton, etc.
One of my favorite was hockey (we didn't play on ice, though, since I grew up in California. Instead, the games were on a basketball court at our school).
At the beginning, it was a new sport to me. I followed all the guys and girls to pick up a hockey stick. Because I knew nothing more about hockey than sweeping the "ball" to the goal, I chose a position beside the tiny goal, to play defense.
Even though in the first class, teachers had to force all the students to play, later on those who really enjoyed, remained. As I remember it, there was a big proportion of guys, and just 3 girls. I enjoy playing with the defense; in fact, I was a pretty good defenseman. Sometimes I would even go up to the middle section of the court and try to steal the "ball" from a guy from the other side.
Most of the time, because they thought I was just a girl, they belittled me. However, with the skills that I had, a lot of times, I could steal the ball from them.
Every time I played, I took the position of a defense”man”. It was pretty fun guarding the goalie because I didn't have to run like crazy. And during my PE class, ever since I started participating, people would love to have me on their team.
Even though I was not as good as a guy, since there were no guys who would like to stay behind and to guard that goalie, the job was left to a girl. Well, maybe it also had something to do with the fact that I was a pretty good player among the girls in my PE class.
This is my story. Maybe hockey wasn’t my growing up sport like it is for some, but I will always remember how I, a girl who was born in Hong Kong, mastered the art of playing defense in Los Angeles.
My friends and I were avid Kings fans; this was back when the Kings (Los Angeles, of course, not Sacramento) were truly bad, around 1985, in the twilight years of Marcel Dionne's career, and before Gretzky. But we were, as I said, avid, and we couldn't help but notice a couple of things: 1. The Toys R Us store where we worked sold hockey sticks, and 2. a roll of box tape would slide on the waxed floors of the store rather like a puck. It also bounced off the shelves as if they were proper boards. So after the store closed, we would have smashing games around the store. We got away with this
because the manager was playing, too.
Eventually, we got more serious store management, and moved the game into the parking lot of the store, which was big and, in the middle of the night, empty, except for the parking lot vacuum truck that we named the Zamboni. We turned a shopping cart on its handle to make a net. We had to graduate to better sticks, now (the ones we used before were merchandise, after all, and were locked up in the store).
One of our number had a father who was friends with the equipment manager of the Kings, and he had a trunk full of sticks that were cracked or otherwise worn out, but were still usable. And they had--we found this a delightful detail--done time with the actual Kings, although often a long time earlier.
I played goalie, and my stick had belonged to Rogie Vachon; it even said "VACHON" near the butt. As a puck, we used a crushed beer can, and played for hours.
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