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August 30, 2010
by JRiddall

Yesterday it was 30 plus degrees celcius outside so where were we…in a rink of course. But it was a special kind of day because the Devil and the Boy got to play together on the same team.

The Devil’s team ran a 3-on-3 fundraising tournament which required/allowed each player on her team an opportunity to put together her own team comprised of three boys, three girls and a goalie  These players (so we understood) could be within two years of the age of the player so the Devil chose her 15-year old brother and two of his buddies along with three of her friends (her age) including a goalie.  The day before the tournament even began her team lost a girl to illness.  We were not able to find a replacement so the team proceeded with two female skaters, three male skaters and a goalie; lots of skating to come.  This was all pretty exciting for mom and dad because we never really get a chance to see our kids play together.  I took to the bench as a quasi-coach, but really just a door man, as I was soon to find the Devil telling me who was to take the ice and when.  I might add here that I came to the rink wearing shorts and a t-shirt with no idea that I would have to spend the majority of the day in what would eventually seem like sub-zero conditions. 

The Devil’s team’s first game was against an all-girls team which included a couple of very good sixteen year olds.  The Devil’s team won that first game and we were soon to learn that the Devil’s relatively large and somewhat skilled male teammate selections were a tad controversial. Her boys (including her brother) were admittedly strong players in relation to those from other teams who ranged from 10 to 16 years old. It was made clear from the very beginning that this was a “fun”draising tournament and winning/losing were secondary. Our boys were likewise instructed from the beginning that they were to compete, but keep in mind that they were, in some cases. playing much younger and/or less skilled players.  All of that being said, just try telling any 10 + year old athlete that they’re just playing for fun. All players on all teams were playing to win as each game saw kids battling at both ends of the ice.  A couple of games saw outstanding performances turned in by diminutive and reportedly unseasoned, but enthusiastic goaltenders.  The Devil and her female teammate played exceedingly well; taking advantage of and making some tape-to-tape passes to the Boys. One particular pass from the Devil to the Boy for a one-timer goal found me fist-pumping with pride.

The Devil’s team went on to an undefeated record and to win the tournament, which would cover nearly 10 hours and consist of a total of seven twenty minute games. Actually eight for the Devil and one of the Boys as both unwittingly substituted for teams missing players following their own team’s fourth game and 11 for the Devil’s goalie as she was called upon to sub for other teams who were not able to find full-time keepers. Pre-tournament we knew there were three games guaranteed, but were a little surprised to learn of four additional games which kept us at the rink until nearly 10 pm. Suffice it to say, our five players, all of whom had a post-win sleep-over at our house, ate heartily (including Dairy Queen treats demanded by the Boys and a late-night Mexican feast prepared by the anxious hockey mom) and then slept long and soundly. Even the young and seemingly resilient Devil and Boy woke up complaining of aching muscles.  In truth, such an effort probably would have crippled most parents for the better part of a week.

It was a long hot day in a cold, stanky rink, but I very much look forward to being able to see my kids play side-by-side again and maybe doing a little more selfish fist-pumping.

#imahockeydad

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