The stage was set and the play was something familiar for this part of the world: Saturday night hockey. It was late in the third game of the round robin of my son’s house league midget tournament this weekend in London and with the good guys leading 3-2 with a minute to go, the game seemed in the bag. We had a five on three powerplay so it looked like we should be able to close this one out. The game meant nothing to either team as both had already been eliminated from moving on to play on Sunday. For the next 30 seconds or so, we moved the puck around their end and played things as we should. Nothing fancy, no need to have four guys jump up for one more goal.
This is about the point in time where things went bad. One of their better players, a big lad on defence (why are defencemen always big?) grabbed the puck and noticing we were a little tentative, began his rush. It was around the 20 second mark when he crossed our blue line having already beaten seven of our players (or so it seemed). Past our last defenceman he went but by then he had very little angle left to do much with so he layed out a weak backhander towards our goalie…and kept coming.
The inevitable collision occurred next. Followed by the inevitable shot to this intruder by our defenceman (a significantly smaller one I might add but one who was just defending his goalie who had been bowled over). Sitting up above this fracas in the warm room immediately behind the net were all the parents. Gasps escaped from some, admonitions of the callous offender by others, bangs to the glass along with exhortations to the refs to do something, SOMETHING, to protect our sons, our country, our civility, and all other good things worth protecting.
Well, I have to tell you, these boys are 15 and 16 years old and I am NOT condoning fighting, not for a minute, but boys will be boys (especially when the game allows it) and it was definitely game on. I kid you not when I say that within a few seconds of their guy running our goalie, there were four fights in progress. Four! How does this happen you ask in a 5 on 3 situation? Good question. Not really sure the answer but I think they had either pulled their goalie during their defenceman’s rush, or one of their two penalties had ended, or they sent a guy over the boards, or two guys from our team must have been fighting each other.
My own son was on the ice and claims he had no one to fight. (The math behind four fights gets even tougher now doesn’t it?). At 5’3″ and 100+ pounds with his stick fully taped, he proudly suggested afterwards that perhaps no one was willing to take him on….and then with a sheepish grin admitted with those specs, he was quite happy to watch. Interestingly, we also had one of our guys hop from the bench, engage the enemy for a few seconds and then get back to the bench before refs even noticed. Smooth. If these two cases don’t illustrate the fact that some like to fight and some don’t, I don’t know what does.
I actually felt bad for the refs. How do you break up four fights? Some of these were pretty big boys. The players really throwing seemed to be enjoying themselves doing so (as did a few of the Dad’s observing from up above, although most kept these smiles guarded for what appeared to be reasons of marital preservation) and the ones surprised by it all and absorbing the punches seemed glad, and fortunate, to have helmets on.
It all ended in about 30 seconds, with 17 seconds showing on the clock. Those 17 seconds took 15 minutes to play and at the end there were a bunch of badly shaken parents (more moms than dads by my count but in the name of equality I will note that one mom on our side indicated that the refs could send the other team’s defenceman her way and that she wasn’t scared of him at all precisely because she was a Mom!) who no doubt went home feeling quite discouraged by it all. However, to be fair, there were a few boys (young and old), and I’m guessing more moms than the aforementioned one, who chuckled when it was all over.