Last night the Boy’s first Midget season ended with a decided thud! His campaign unfortunately ended ever so prematurely when he was driven by emotion to the aid of a teammate who had just been run into the end boards while pursuing a puck. The Boy’s response in the heat of the moment was a retaliatory hit deemed illegal by the onlooking official. The “hit from behind” earned him an ejection half-way through this final match. He will also have an opportunity to watch the first game of his next season (assuming there will be a next season) from the sidelines as suspensions carry forward to the next league sanctioned game regardless the amount of time in between. He, of course, felt the ref’s call was “bogus”. I, with some admitted bias, don’t completely disagree. He and I would watch the rest of this game a few feet apart behind the glass as mere spectators.
The game itself was relatively ordinary tilt outside of a heated skirmish with the designated bully from the other team that saw him and our sides’ aggressor expelled from the contest at the end of the second period. The slight irony being that said bully just happens to be one of the Boy’s best friends from when we lived in the rival town. This same lad, known simply as #57 , had done his fair share of damage in the series with a number of bone-crunching, if not over-zealous, hits. I reserved my judgment as an objective bystander while several sympathetic team boosters voiced their understood disapproval. The two combatants left the ice amid the cheers and jeers from the opposed fans. At that point the visitors, already up two games to one in the series, held a 2-0 lead and were only 15 minutes away from eliminating the desperate Colts.
The third period opened with a relatively quick goal signalling a glimmer of hope for the good guys. However, the rest of the period was dominated by an outstanding goaltending performance, which had likewise buoyed the other side in their two previous victories. An empty net goal with just over a minute left in the final frame represented the nail in the proverbial coffin at which point I held out hope for a civil end to the game and series. We had seen a less than sportsmanlike end to our previous round which I personally did not wish to see echoed by our boys. This latest foe had won fairly and deserved to advance. Calmer heads prevailed, emotions were kept in check and the playoff run simply ended. Not without disappointment or competitive rage, but it ended. A few choice words were lobbied across the lobby as the teams retired to their respective dressing rooms. 20 minutes later they would emerge, no doubt mostly concerned about where they’d be hanging out on the weekend and with whom.
24 hours later the realization that the season is over is met with a combination of disbelief and some relief. After nearly six months of hockey three to four days a week you (or at least I) half-question what else there might be worth doing on a Friday or Saturday night which doesn’t involve a rink. There is also reflection on a season past, which in the case of this particular team, I believe includes some fond memories of occasional on-ice success, plenty of off-ice highlights of the young male variety and sincere appreciation for an overall positive experience. While I wasn’t as involved with this team as much as I have been with others the Boy has been on, I got the sense this was a good group of young men who genuinely got along; which is an accomplishment in and of itself when considering any collection of modern day teenagers. Hockey Mom/Substitute Trainer, who gained her own unique perspective this year on the bench, has many times attested to the same with an appreciative smile.
We do, of course, always find something to fill the now vacant time. We, for that matter, are still heavily and most certainly emotionally invested in two other important series with the Devil’s team, one of which continues tomorrow afternoon. A win tomorrow earns us an opportunity to play much more hockey in the Province Championships a couple of months out. So we’ll kindly ask the woman with the dulcet tones to retire back into the shadows for a few weeks yet; only to return on our terms and/or at the eventual beckoning of the ever-influential hockey gods. Stay tuned.