New Team, New Season, Early Highlights
Couple of weeks in with a new cast of characters on the Boy’s Midget A team. The only stuff of note thus far has been a few skirmishes which have ended with ejections and a game-tying goal potted with only 4.7 seconds left on the clock. Overall the boys are playing well with a 1-2-2 record as they work towards familiarizing themselves with each other. Camaraderie thus far does not appear to be an issue. The Boy reports the room is a good room; everyone gets along; which is key for any team with hopes of a successful campaign. The team boasts mainly first-year midgets, while a couple of opponents have iced a larger contingent of second year players. Any differences are not really noticeable in game play. Every contest has been relatively close, including a one-goal loss to an undefeated team at the top of the early-season standings – a game they quite easily could have won if not for a phantom goal at the beginning of the third period coupled with an equally questionable hit-from-behind penalty at the end of the same frame. Yup, there’s always room to complain about refs.
The full-on fisticuffs are something relatively new albeit commonplace at this age as the ice surface is quite literally drenched in testosterone. We’ve seen gloves come off and punches exchanged in the last three matches in a row. You can tell some of the moms of first-year players are taken aback, if only for a moment, at the “young” boys’ behaviour.
Trash-talking or “chirping” is no doubt incessant at faceoffs, at whistles and even on opposing bench skate-bys. I believe, for better or worse, this is part of every game. Even the Devil tells of nasty language being hurled occasionally at her Bantam games; though I’m sure their never uttered from her mouth – she’s our innocent little girl after all.
Said chirping had a part to play in one incident immediately following the dramatic game-tying goal mentioned earlier. I failed to note that we were the visiting team, which only added to the already charged atmosphere. The Boy and a teammate may have hurled a few choice words at the other team’s bench after the equaling marker, which elicited a fairly immediate and physical response from one of the chirpees. The opponent’s advance was met by a right cross delivered across benches which was witnessed by an assistant coach from the home squad who had a similarly immediate and overly aggressive response of his own. The engagement was quickly joined by the Boy’s head coach at which point the reason for the plexiglass separating the two combatant teams became readily obvious. However, order was quickly restored, the puck was dropped one last time, but even then one of the host players felt it necessary to throw in a quick cheap shot in defiance of the suddenly 1-1 score. The Boy had to grab one of his buddies who was the recipient of the cheap shot and was bent on revenge. I’m guessing this game, and particularly the end, will be remembered when these two teams meet again.
One other brief highlight for me came last night when the Boy failed to deliver on a partial promise he made earlier in the day. In honour of the Winnipeg Jets return to the NHL on the same day, I suggested that if he scored he should perform a goal celebration made famous by then Jets rookie Teemu Selanne. For those who are unfamiliar, this particular celebration involves removing one’s hockey glove, tossing it high in the air and mock shotgunning it down with one’s hockey stick ala Davey Crockett. The Boy did, as chance would have it, score a goal in his second consecutive game. It was a nice, quick wrap-around tally from behind the net. He did not, however, fulfill my request for the tribute, which naturally led me to exhort “WHAT ABOUT THE SELANNE?” Hell, I was missing half of the historic first game for the reborn Jets. It was the least he could do. The Boy spun, acknowledged the plea and flashed a grin through his shiny new cage to mom and me. I get one of those grins a few times each year. They leave lasting impressions. After the game, he claimed it wasn’t a goal worthy of such a celebration. So, I’m still hopeful to see a “SELANNE” before the season is out; perhaps after a particularly awe-inspiring or momentous goal. Depending on the timing and proximity, it may evoke a less than warm reception from the other side, but it will most certainly be worth it for this biased fan.