The one that got away is a metaphor for many things in our world today. I really like to fish and have had a few good ones literally get away on me. My son caught a big bass one night when he was only 8 or 9 only to have it get away beside the boat because we did not have our net with us. It’s been the subject of much trash talk on every fishing trip since because without a picture (we have none), the truth of the story is difficult to confirm and gets more so with the passing of each year.
Then there is the one that got away in a courtship sense. As Jake Owen’s song by the same title laments, “Every summer that rolls around, I’m looking over my shoulder, wishing I could see her face, wishing I could hold her.” Well, I know you’re probably wondering how I’m going to tie this pile of country music drivel into a hockey story, but trust me on this one, the fish you couldn’t land and the love that got away are not to be out done by the game that got away, the check you didn’t quite pick up or the goal that wasn’t.
I’ve had a few of these. Nice life if these are my biggest laments but nonetheless, it is sometimes fun and a bit tortuous to look back and wonder what might have been. At OFSSA in my grade 11 year, we fell behind 5-1 at the end of the first in the semi-finals on a Friday night game in North Bay. The game was effectively over at that point. The final score 8-3 proves that. However, we were kids and didn’t know it at the time. We went to the dressing room shell shocked and our coach pumped us up saying there was lots of hockey left. We believed.
We scored the next one and made it 5-2 and shortly after that, I had a chance to make it 5-3. The puck came to me at the edge of the crease with the empty cage and I shoveled a gimmee backhander in. Somehow, their tender dove and got a glove on it. I can still see it, feel it. I went to the bench so frustrated. I heard this coach’s words over the prior two years saying that in a big game “you have to score on these chances” and I didn’t. We actually did make it 5-3 a bit later and the comeback was alive but they scored again shortly thereafter to make it 6-3 and that was that.
I really wish I had scored. If we could have got to 5-4, it would have been a different game. It was OFSAA. Bummer of a way to lose, to get blown out in the first period. There have been other missed goals, other missed checks but none had the significance of that year.