I went out for a quick walk down the street tonight to drop a letter into the mailbox. A few houses away, on a gorgeous late spring evening, where the leaves were fully out and the temperature was bordering on hot, I spotted a young boy, about as tall as a Corey-Crawford goalie pad hacking away at a ball on the sidewalk. He was shooting it about 20 feet with all his might, to his very pregnant mom who didn’t have the speed of Duncan Keith but looked like she was enjoying herself playing this time of year just the same.
Category Archives: moms
When I was a kid, indoor rinks were nasty cold places in the heart of winter. I guess they still are but I’m old enough now to enjoy throwing stories to my kids about how it was colder and snowier back in the day. For parents and other spectators who didn’t benefit from the physical activity of the actual game to keep warm, they had to brave the cold of the game somehow. I’m not sure this was the official name given to them, but those areas of certain rinks where you could watch the game with some heat on were known as warm rooms.
My mom, a primo hockey mom if there ever was one, was a warm room stalwart. I don’t ever remember her watching a game at ice level. Ever. And yet, I can count on one hand the number of my games she missed over all the years I played.
NorthCrest arena had an awesome warm room. Big glass at the end of the rink, slightly elevated, good snack stand, just big enough to accommodate fans from both sides and yet small enough to be intimate. The Kinsmen arena in Peterborough was the 8th wonder of the world for awhile in the 70’s being a twin-pad with a long vertical, second floor viewing area that looked down on both pads. And being a heated area, it was the cruise ship of warm rooms for its time.
Moses Springer arena in Kitchener used a hybrid approach. Yes, for that old barn, somewhat reminiscent of NorthCrest in Peterborough, they simply hung gas heat lamps over the bleachers at rink side. Not a real warm room, but a pseudo-warm-bench at least.
The Keene arena had an second floor warm room / party room at the end of the rink which got used for wedding receptions and the like (rarel on the same nights as hockey games although I actually did bring my new supertacks, a stick and some pucks with me to a cousin’s wedding in April one year on a Saturday night when the ice was still in and actually slipped down for a skate while the nuptial party unfolded up above). It also had a lobby on the main floor that had a couple of pretty weak viewing windows out to ice level.
Yes, the warm room is an architectural innovation that many a hockey fand, and player, have benefited from. It has kept spectators warm and it has been a gathering place before and after games for generations of players. It’s the 19th hole of the hockey world. It’s where missed chances have been lamented post-game, trash talk exchanged amongst rival player-friends (or enemies) and where families and friends have gathered and socialized with hockey at the centre of the discussion.
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.