It’s just shinny but as one gets older, and is able to pull off a move one-on-one and then score, even if the defender is older than one’s self, and even if the tender isn’t half the goalie Tukka Rask’s mother-in-law is, it still feels good. I had one like that last night.
There were a few chuckles as I coasted back to centre that I’m pretty sure were born of the notion that while I obviously enjoyed it and appeared to be thinking “I still got it” were really just reality checks indicating that it was old guy beating really old guy then beating tired old goalie who was thinking he was only 15 minutes away from post shinny pitcher of beer.
Tony Esposito or Rogatien (Rogie) Vachon? (Although my personal favourite for a goalie was “Red Light Racicot”)
Filed under goalies, names
I got a call at work on my cell late yesterday aft asking if I was available to play last night with some boys at the St. Jacob’s barn. Indeed I was available and it was an excellent skate too. Our tender’s nickname was Hummer (at least I think it was a nickname) and he had a few go through the five hole on him early that had some of his own teammates chirping him for.
I went to the bench after one such goal and my defence partner laid things out as poetically as he could: “Geez, Hummer’s lookin’ like an old whore out there tonite his legs are so far apart!” Yikes, the bare, unvarnished truth is sometimes harsh and funny at the same time.
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.
As athletes are fond of say after a hard fought victory, “We battled hard out there tonight.” And so it was with Blue last night. We were down a couple of times but managed to tie it mid way through the final period and then Colonel nailed a beauty with a couple of minutes to go to seal it, a nice low wrister just under the keeper’s glove. Very sweet.
Our trusty keeper Chris came up large in our cage or Colonel’s goal would have only been to make it respectable. As hockey players are also fond of saying about their goalies “It was huge for us to get those saves out of him at key times like that. He held us in and gave us a chance. That’s all you can ask.” Ah, hockey players. Poets really, under all that gear.
I remember it well. I was a kid too young to be out with buddies celebrating but instead was dialed into hockey pretty tight. This wasn’t New Year’s eve, this was Canada vs. Russia.
Here’s a great clip from the post-game interview with Howie Meeker interviewing Pete Mahovolich. Gotta love Meeker’s lead into one question where he describes big Pete coming out of the corner and having Tretiak “down and out to dinner”.
Later, Meeker describes hockey as the “…greatest entertainment in the world today, played by the greatest people, regardless of whether you are from Canada, the United States, Czechoslovakia or Russia…”. At a time when the cold war still raged, this guy could have cared less – it was all about the hockey and he had a world view of the game long before many others in Canada.
Mahovolich comments about how the game was played a lot like it used be played “on the pond” with players not having to worry about sticks up around their ears.
At the end of the game, it was very cool to see Mahovolich and Cournoyer, with Tretiak in the middle, waving to the fans from centre ice at the old Forum as the organ played in the background. The boards were white, some of the Habs were still without helmets and Dick Irvin was his classic self, gushing forth about how ridiculously better the Habs were than their foes on this night, as he did in every game he ever did as the Habs colour man.
Like most guys my age who grew up interested in hockey, Hockey Night in Canada was a staple on the tele on Saturday nights. If I recall, the Leafs often had a Wednesday night game as well. Typically, the main advertisers were oil companies (Esso), car companies (Ford) and beer companies (Molson’s). Some things never change I guess.
Do you remember the Molson Golden commercials that showed bunch of oldtimers finishing up their shinny match and heading for the dressing room.? Once there, one of the boys is noticed as missing in action and someone yells down the hall back out to the ice for him. His reply? “I’m comin’, I’m comin’, I’m working on my shot”. I looked all over for this sucker on the internet but no luck. A figment of my imagination perhaps?
Here’s one that isn’t quite as funny but perhaps will bring you a chuckle nonetheless.
Any old-school, hockey-loving Canuck worth his Tackaberries knows Ken Dryden, the storied Canadian / Canadien hero goalie with more Connie Smythe hardware and Stanley Cup rings than “Carter has pills” as my father-in-law would say. (Not sure who Carter was but he’s quoted often at the in-laws; however I digress). A lesser known fact is that Ken had an older brother who was a pretty fair goalie himself. More of a journeyman in that he played on several NHL teams and didn’t end up with as much hardware as his sibling protege but a good man to be sure.
And I know this first hand because his son Greg and I ended up at Uni together and lived as roommates in a student ghetto house in Kingston for a couple of years in the early 80’s. As scary-smart as anyone I’ve ever met, Greg is / was a great guy. He didn’t play hockey, which unfortunately we Peterborough guys razzed him unfairly about but it was serendipitous to learn when I got to know Greg that after his Dad had hung up his NHL / WHL skates, he landed in Peterborough for a stint as the Pete’s coach.
Earlier, Dave Dryden played pro for 18 years in both the NHL and the WHA and won the WHA award as the league’s top goalie and the Gordie Howe award as League MVP in 1979. Not bad at all. On the slightly more negative side of the trivia equation, he also was the goalie who gave up Gretzky’s first professional goal in 1979.
Alas, every man has a dark side and this picture proves in the case of Dave Dryden, his may have been the barber he visited.
If you played organized hockey as a little kid, chances are decent you threw the pads on for at least one go in the cage. It might have only been for a practice, or a scrimmage or even a mother-son, father-son game. I never did.
I had aspirations of doing so. I was all queued for an early Sunday morning practice in the Holy Land (Ennismore) in my second year of playing. Can you believe my parents slept in for an early Sunday morning practice? They never slept in. And so my chance came and went and never came again.
Tretiak! A fitting choice. Check out this blog entry at 3rd String Goalie for more details.