July 11, 2013

It Was The Summer Of 6.9

Time flies. It has now been more than seven months since I began my journey back from a 25-year hockey absence and a lot has changed in the past couple of months.

Perhaps most noteworthy has been my "elevation" from I-League, A.K.A. anyone-with-skates-and-two-hundred-bucks-can-play, to D-League where you have to be asked to join a team.

First I was asked by my local rink manager to join a new D team called, THE WHALE. Of course I jumped at the chance. Finally I was on the path to the big leagues! Not long after, I got an e-mail from a stranger about joining a D team in a nearby town who had lost their goalie. I was to become one of THE BEER KINGS!

Initially, I may have been blinded by excitement of playing for these new teams and surely there was a stroke to my ego. Teams were seeking me out. I must be getting good. They must see something.

THE WHALE, it turns out, are a rag-tag group of semi regulars and subs who are rounding out the number of teams in the league and forfeit every game on the official scoresheet even though games are played. In four games, I think I've seen three familiar faces in the locker room and while sometimes stacked with hotshot ringers who have dropped in for ice time, you can't count on them for defense past center ice. We lose most of our games 8-6 or 9-7. Lot's of offense but...

THE BEER KINGS have turned out to be second-class citizens in their league too. Barely scraping together 6 or 7 skaters a game, I've faced 47, 54 and 52 shots in our first 3 games. A nicer group of sexagenarians I've never met but when I'm the youngest and thinnest on the team it doesn't take long to figure out why they've held the basement spot for several consecutive seasons.

So now the glow and excitement of being "recruited" has faded and has been replaced with the realization that Ancient Netminders get called up from I-League when teams can't find a bale of hay to put between the pipes. But  I find myself enjoying stress-free hockey. It's easier to enjoy playing when there's little pressure to win and, aww shucks I let in 6 goals on 55 shots.

I'm playing weekly with my good pal, Paul in the I-League and gutting out some pretty nifty performances on two really bad D teams. I'm loving every minute.

GAA? Yep, it's the summer of 6.9 just like Bryan Adams said.