I’ve had a million moments of joy playing hockey. My memories in this emotional horn of plenty range from my earliest days of having a stick in my hand until present day. My dad claims it started even before that when I was three weeks old. He said that on a particular Saturday night, my mom was out and I was being fussy enough that he couldn’t settle me down in my room. He finally decided that if he couldn’t make me go to sleep there, there was no point in him missing the game so he took me to the basement rec room where Hockey Night in Canada beckoned and lo and behold, I settled right down.
From that point on, and every day since, there have been some pretty dandy hockey days. As Badger Bob used to say every day: “it’s a great day for hockey.” I couldn’t agree more. Having said that, in one’s life, there are always moments that stand out, some for no particular reason, some for obvious reasons. In my hockey life, here’s a few moments where I went to sleep at night a pretty happy camper.
- watching (and coaching) as my son scored the winning goal in the championship game at the buzzer in the first overtime in his 3rd year of play. We had a face-off just outside our zone, right in front of our bench, with 8 seconds left on the clock in the first overtime. He poked the puck straight ahead off the draw went right between both defencemen and beat their goalie with a wrister as the buzzer went. It doesn’t get better than that. My dad was there to see it. An awesome day.
- in the dressing room after winning COSSA in grade 11. We won the title at home in Peterborough. It was a 3 game round-robin and we had to win or tie the third game to advance. Our high school had been let out to watch the game and we were so excited that before the game our coach, Dave Bowen, kept saying “you have to play with your head, not your heart. Keep the adrenalin in check”. It was one of the rare times I experienced a game with the arena packed with fans. It was one of the Kinsmen rinks that really didn’t have much in the way of seats for fans, just some benches on each side of the ice. There was probably 500-1000 people there and when our line scored early, the roar was huge. What a rush. I think we tied the game but that was enough. OFSAA was up next and I remember the pure adrenalin of having won COSSA and us screaming and chanting in the room afterwards.
- the day my dad signed me up for hockey for the first time. I can remember dancing around the kitchen so excited
- every game where Darren Howe, our leader on the Grand River League Mutual Life team, chirped his own guys with one-liners that were the envy of every comedian the world over. He was one funny dude
- coming up just short in a one-day tournament in Norwood in which our St. Anne’s team was entered where we had played a team from Markham. They were dressed up like an NHL team and had about 51 players. I remember looking at them in the warm-up and being intimidated and thinking we were going to get eaten like kittens. We didn’t. We really played hard. We were down 3-0 at one point but had hit goal posts, cross bars and were very frustrated. We got one late in the second and then scored again with less than a buck to play to make it 3-2 and forced them to hang on. We played awesome, probably way over our heads but man was it fun to claw our way back into it late.
- Eating dinner at Yorkdale mall in grade 10 and 11 with my St. Pete’s teammates when we were staying at the Holiday Inn nearby while taking part in the Father David Bauer tournament in Rexdale. They lost money on the buffet those days I’m pretty sure.
- the bus ride home from Ottawa in high school after COSSA in grade 10 where we had advanced to OFSAA. It was a Friday and there was a high school dance that night. Wine women and song were the spoils ahead even though most of us were too young / timid to drink much, most of the women went to the older guys who were better players. We could dream though and the tunes on the bus and at the dance made a good time better.
- the day my son scored his first goal
- the day I scored my first goal, at the same age (8) that my son was when he scored his
- my first game back after a 6 week layoff in grade 11 after injuring my foot. I scored a hat trick and we won. I was a role player and not only missed playing while I was hurt but really didn’t want to lose my spot on the team. It was wonderful. I didn’t really have a remarkable game but things just fell into place that game and as the saying goes, they all count. I went home very happy that night.
- watching Paul De Marchi have a ridiculous game in net against Campbellford in a tournament in Keene in our mid teens as part of one of our St. Anne’s teams with Ed and Brian at the helm. He was a great goalie who always played his best in key games. This was the either the tournament championship or consolation final but we got absolutely outplayed the entire game. We were a bit older and so if we had lost it wouldn’t have been as disappointing as if we had been 9 or 10 years old. However, we somehow scored two early and won the game 3-2 but but he stopped so many shots, and made so many ridiculous saves that I remember us joking with him during stoppages in play that he needed to play a little harder.