Having been derailed by my last entry that detailed the consequences of having a hot temper in beer league, I'm turning back to a much better experience- perhaps the perfect day on the ice.
I'm coming up on two years since I returned to hockey and while I've had personal breakthroughs and little achievements along the way, nothing has made my journey better than having my good friend Paul and my wife Amy join me. Neither had played hockey before this year and neither had much skating experience. They've both made great leaps in their game and the best part is I've got them on two of my four beer league teams where we play together every week.
Both of these teams are typical 'D' teams- up and down with a mix of beginners and unpolished vets who have a great time, win or lose. The first game of the day for me was with The Jokers. You may remember this team as being pretty good a few seasons ago but since we have been rebuilding and searching for a win- any win. As we took to the ice, my expectations were low but as always, the locker room before the game was full of laughter and smack talk among our many friends.
We played a terrific game and as will happen in rare circumstances, the puck looked as big as a beach ball to me. For those who don't play in goal, when this does happen its a glorious feeling. Every shot can be turned away with confidence and you can anticipate every play in front of you. I was working on a shutout as we got close the end of the third.
Suddenly, with Amy parked in front of the opposing net, the puck was sent through the slot by Paul from the blue line. Amy picked up the rebound for a clean one-timer that found the net and she had her first legitimate goal since she began playing six months ago. Our bench went crazy and even the other team- figuring out who scored the goal- slapped their sticks on the ice. Amy got her high fives and was picked up by Paul in a bear hug. I had a huge grin on my face from the other end of the ice. Jokers 3, MIB 0.
The start of a perfect day.
My second game of that day was with the Spiders- probably the highest skill team that I play with. We had gone 10-1 on the season and tonight's game was against the only team that had beaten us. I was feeling great after my shutout with the Jokers and determined to get another win.
The game was fast and chippy. Penalties were handed out like candy and we were short-handed several times. Again, beach balls. If only I could bottle that feeling for every game I played. We got up early and never looked back. Even opponents crashing the net and a flurry of third period shots couldn't make a dent in my play. The Spiders celebrated an 11-1 season and I got my second shutout of the day.
I sat in the Spider locker room and enjoyed a few moments while thinking back this day of friends and hockey and wins. Coming back to hockey is only part of the story because I'm learning that hockey can be a lot more with friends alongside.
The end to a perfect day.