This past weekend was a great example of how hockey can be an excellent backdrop and excuse to simply get away to have some fun. Our family spent the weekend in Niagara Falls where the Boy took part in a Summer tournament. Where else would you expect me to spend Father’s Day? You naturally go into any tournament wanting to win, but the emphasis in this case, as it should be in the majority of situations, was on having fun – both for the Boys and their families in tow.
Upon dropping our Boy off at the front door of the first arena on Friday afternoon, we made our way to the back of the parking lot to join several other hockey moms and dads in some Summer hockey tail-gating. As I scanned the parking lot I could see pop-up trailers, RVs, bbq-flavoured smoke rising from well-prepared grills and multi-colored, ice-filled coolers. The general rule is to arrive one-hour before game-time, which leaves plenty of time to pop open the back door of the van, turn on some music, sit back in a lawn chair, sip a cold beverage and wonder what the unfortunate working people are doing. It was almost difficult to rise up and head to the rink to watch the game as puck-drop drew near. And such would be the case over the next few days as the temperatures rose and the beverages seemingly got colder or at least certainly more refreshing.
The rest of the weekend included a surprisingly efficient and affordable team dinner, a customary trip to see one of the Wonders of the World, a pre-game round for a few fathers including yours truly on a phenomenal golf course, purposely missed late-night curfews and two white-knuckled walks for me and the Devil thru a couple of Niagara Falls’ finest haunted houses. I’m confident the feeling should come back to my over-gripped hand any day now.
And oh yeah, there was a little hockey mixed in there too. The hockey portion of the weekend saw the Boys play to a 1-1-1 round robin record putting them firmly in 5th place entering the playoff round. All of the games were close and they could have just as easily been 3-0. They would fall 3-1 in their first playoff game, which relegated them to battle it out for 7th, which they were able to secure with a 4-0 victory to end on a high note. It may have just been me, but it seemed the fun had outside the rink found its way onto the ice – win or lose.
The original plan in putting this team together was to enter two tournaments, with Niagara being the second. But at the end of day two Boys and parents alike were talking about looking for a third opportunity to hang out and maybe play/watch some hockey. And to be clear, a few more wins than losses will certainly be welcomed. For some this will perhaps become more of a priority as the real season draws near. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in hoping the fun stays the primary focus.