Skip to content

A Wild Ride to the End of the Hockey Line

March 24, 2013
by JRiddall

I thought this final chapter would be a little difficult to write through eyes blurred by the memories of 14 years on ice, so I decided before we embarked on our weekend trip to the 41st Annual Leo Boivin Major Midget AA/AAA Showcase tournament I would try to construct something of a photo essay of our journey to the end of the Boy’s minor hockey life.  Pictures, as they say, tell a thousand words and in some cases even these photos fall short of summing up an incredible three-day hockey experience. This was, without a doubt, one of the best tourneys we’ve ever attended…and how fitting  it should be the last. So follow along if you will and forgive any typ0s, which will have nothing to do the occasional nostalgic tear dropped on my keyboard I assure you.

 

loaded hockey van

Van loaded to the roof though it is only a three-day tourney. Luggage – check, Equipment – check, Sticks – check, Cooler for Dad – check. And of course, it’s snowing.

 

 

Tim Hortons

Every real minor hockey trip starts at the local Timmies…and the snow continues to fall.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

hockey player convoy

Something of a hockey player convoy as five carloads of players, parents and even a coupla siblings make their way four hours down the highway. We’ve also move south and left most of the snow behind us.

hockey pit stop

With the first game scheduled for two hours after our arrival, we stopped early to fuel our finely tuned young athletes. Are those pre-game french fries and root beer I see?

 

Leo Boivin Community Centre - Prescott, Ontario

The Leo Boivin Community Centre, iconic home of this now fabled tourney is a classic small town Canada barn with wooden bleachers and championship banners from days gone by hanging from the rafters.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

hockey team runner

Each team in the tourney adopts their own personal runner for the weekend, who is responsible for filling water bottles, hanging jerseys, familiarizing the players with the rink and lending one more voice to cheer at game time. Our team in turn supplied the young lad with his own signed jersey, which apparently and quickly became a prized possession.

game one vs Team Latvia

The Boys’ first test of the tourney would be their toughest in Team Latvia, who had reached the Championship game at this tourney the year prior. The team did well to skate with their skilled opponents trailing by a single goal after the first period. But the lead would be extended to four after the second. The Boy was the beneficiary of a broken play, which allowed him to break a Latvian shutout bid. The final score read 8-1 leaving the Boys a little dismayed, but by no means defeated.

 

The Row at the Leo Boivin Tournament

Before game one the team introduced themselves and made symbolic offerings to “The Row”, a special group of fans who are symbolic guardians of the tourney and whose allegiance can be swayed by those bearing gifts and showing reverence.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another Leo Boivin tourney tradition is a post-game 3-Star selection with a twist. Those Boys selected as stars are required to accept their awards from one of the town's fairest maidens. In return, they are expected to plant a quick peck on the cheek of said maiden...to the merriment of the crowd. On occasion, The Row demands the star to "Kiss All Three". Those teams more familiar with the process were noted to send their stars equipped with flowers for the young ladies. All very pomp and circumstance.

Another Leo Boivin tourney tradition is a post-game 3-Star selection with a twist. Those Boys selected as stars are required to accept their awards from one of the town’s fairest maidens. In return, they are expected to plant a quick peck on the cheek of said maiden…to the merriment of the crowd. On occasion, The Row demands the star to “Kiss All Three”. Those teams more familiar with the process were noted to send their stars equipped with flowers for the young ladies. All very pomp and circumstance-ish.

 

hockey team paradeLeo Boivin

Leo Boivin tournament opening ceremonies

Opening ceremonies complete with a parade of all 16 teams, a ceremonial puck drop, the anthems of the US, Latvia and Canada and an appearance from Leo Boivin, the tournament’s namesake, himself.

 

Boy's birthday

Coincidentally, this weekend would also find da Boy becoming da Man by virtue of his 18th birthday falling on Saturday morning. Quite the juxtaposition of a minor hockey career ending and a whole new chapter of life beginning. He subsequently got to open a few presents in the hotel room prior to game two. Fittingly, one stayed true to the hockey-themed weekend and would be eerily prophetic of things to come.

Game two pitted our squad against another AAA foe, but one we all felt would be an easier mark, particularly if our side brought their Double A game. And indeed we watched two very closely matched teams battle to a 1-1 tie through two periods. Unfortunately, a half-hearted shot from just above the slot about halfway through the final frame somehow found its way behind our goalie, who had played a stellar contest to that point. An empty netter would spell a second loss for the good guys and a rematch with a decidedly unpopular rival at 7:30am (an equally unpopular time) the next morning.

game two warmup

goal celebration

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

However, night two of the tournament featured a skills competition, which included fastest skater and hardest shot categories along with a one-on-one breakaway challenge and a four-on-four mini all-star match. Somehow (methinks birthday related) the Boy was selected by our coaching staff to compete in the hardest shot category, which immediately had me envisioning his infamous “Woooof”  a few years earlier; only this time in front of a few hundred more onlookers in a packed Leo Boivin Community Centre. I tried not to remind him of the somewhat embarrassing moment (he says with the knowing smirk of a caring father). Regardless he was honoured to be chosen and Momma and I were thrilled to see him and three of his teammates competing against players from all of the other teams.

hockey skills competition   hockey skills competitors

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A highlight of the Skills Competition was watching local five or six year olds participate in  challenges of their own, mimicking their midget counterparts' skating, shooting and scoring. I'm sure I wasn't the only one in the stands looking down and trying to remember when my kid was that small.

A highlight of the Skills Competition was watching local five or six year olds participate in challenges of their own, mimicking their midget counterparts’ skating, shooting and scoring. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one in the stands looking down and trying to remember when my kid was that small.

Boy's Slap Shot

I’m pleased to report there was no Wooof this time around. And while the Boy didn’t measure up to some of the big shooters speed-wise, he did manage to go “bardown” with a 69 mph slapshot, much to the foul-minded amusement of the crowd.

Sunday morning and our 6am wake-up call arrived way too early. All bets were off on what type of game we might expect from our Boys or their all too familiar opponents, whom they’d ousted from the Provincial playdowns only a few weeks ago in a thrilling five-game series. To sweeten the pot in this grudge match, the opponents are still locked in a regional playoff battle with the other local league team the Boys removed from the Provincial championship equation in the following, equally exciting five-game series. It’s a wonder we have parents still standing. What we did all know is this could be the final game for our lads should they not be able to secure a win. As the game started, it seemed the knew this too as they were definitely the aggressors early on with a strong forecheck and several shots launched at the opposing keeper. A few minutes into the initial period, they would strike first giving us all a shot of hope. But the momentum would not be sustained as a few penalties were taken enabling the bad guys to tie the score and take the lead late in the second. And then, with the clock winding down in the middle frame, our goalie took exception to the taunting of an opposing player camped out in his crease as a whistle sounded to stop play. Within moments each players arms were flailing as others on the ice, including da Boy, watched from the periphery. I should preface this with mentioning da Boy’s team had one “fight” all year. Suddenly, a player close to da Boy decided to secure him in a headlock to which he says he responded, “Do ya wanna go?” Now his assailant apparently replied “No”, but da Boy had already decided a “fight” had indeed started and he was gonna finish it. He managed to remove his opponents “bucky” as they affectionately refer to their helmets and tossed a few right hands in the right general direction of his target. Meanwhile, one of his linemates grabbed his own dance partner and a partial line brawl ensued. The fracas was relatively short-lived as the linesman moved in. And with that, da Boy’s minor hockey career was brought to an abrupt end one period early; the upside being yours truly and da Boy would watch the rest of the game together side-by-side in the stands.

watching hockey in the stands

The Colts would not be able to mount a comeback in the third period. In fact, they gave up an empty netter for a second straight 3-1 defeat, thereby ending the minor hockey careers of all but one player. And while the three losses naturally stung as they should, the entire experience of the weekend felt far from hollow. In an impressive, unprompted show of class and character the Boys led by their Captain skated out in front of their parents to raise their sticks in a salute for not only this weekend, but a nearly quarter lifetime’s worth of getting up early, stopping at Timmies, driving to frozen rinks and sharing their victories, as well as their defeats.

hockey salute

Thank you Boys!

I count myself lucky for having the above photo to go along with all the others trapped securely in my head and I believe da Man sitting next to me will most likely say the same. Of course, I wanna hold onto da Little Boy sleeping in the back seat on the way home as long as I can.

asleep in the back seat

Now could you kindly pass the tissue cuz I gotta wipe off this blasted keyboard?

#imaproudhockeydad

9 Comments leave one →
  1. Jason Saunders permalink
    March 26, 2013 1:07 am

    The boys played a fantastic tournament. They showed skill, heart, and class in all three games and put on a good show. I hope they all enjoyed it. I also hope the parents and siblings had a good time. There has been cases where parents have returned to the tournament in following years to get away and have some fun in “The Row” all weekend. Feel free to do so yourself.
    Thanks for the great blog. I love it.

    Jason Saunders
    (The Row)

    • March 26, 2013 3:00 pm

      Thanks Jason. I’ll pass along your comments to the team and will let you know they are very much appreciated. I may just take you up on the offer to hang out in “The Row” sometime.

  2. March 26, 2013 12:18 pm

    Well stated JR and a proud testament to the Leo Boivin Showcase experience. We attended 2 years ago when our boy, as a Minor Midget, was asked to join the Major Midgets for this event. We would love to have attended again in this, his final season of minor hockey but our team had other concerns in mind. In fact we were busy finishing off those pesky Knights from Ajax this past weekend, on our way to the OMHA championship title (yes, the same ones that ended your boy’s playdown run). Nice story JR, one which countless hockey parents across the land can relate to.
    Thanks for sharing,
    Brampton 45 Parent

    • March 26, 2013 3:04 pm

      Thank JP. Would have liked to have had a chance to see our Boys go up against yours at some point this season just to get a full and proper measure against the best, but as you note, those pesky Ajax Knights got in our way. Congrats to your lads on a very successful season and well-deserved OMHA Championship. And thanks again for reading.

  3. March 26, 2013 2:21 pm

    What a great story & reflection of your boy’s final minor tourney & career. I’m sure I’ll be in your shoes faster than I’d like. These years must be fun because they’re flying by fast!

    • March 26, 2013 3:05 pm

      Thank you Kevin. Be sure to savour all of your moments in the rink as they do go by a whole lot faster than you’d like them to. Cheers.

  4. Christine Sloan permalink
    March 26, 2013 9:34 pm

    Amazing story- I’m in tears:) we are just starting the journey – funny enough my son is 6 and was in the skills competition for hardest shot – he was blue #91:) (tells me he shot 80mph hmmmmm) hahahha so when I saw this it made me smile and cry cause I know this will be me in 12-13 years 🙂
    What an amazing way to remember such a moment – and we are glad our town could be a part of your memories 🙂

    • March 26, 2013 9:47 pm

      Thanks Christine. Watching your son and the other little ones was a fantastic part of the whole experience. Tell him I remember he sure did have the hardest shot and gave da Boy a run for his money. Do hold all those moments tight and close to your heart as we’ve tried to over the past 13 years. Was awesome to finish da Boy’s minor hockey life in such a classic setting.

Trackbacks

  1. Back Behind A Girls Hockey Bench » I'm a Hockey Dad I'm a Hockey Dad

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • RSS
  • Twitter
  • Tumblr
  • Facebook
  • Google+
  • LinkedIn