A Hockey Dad’s New Year’s Resolutions

Tis the time of year again, when we all, with best intentions, come up with a list of resolutions; those little things we admit we should or shouldn’t be doing in good conscience. It’s perhaps sad or at least regrettable that I should be able to come up with a list solely centred around my hockey parenting life; to complement a raft of other more generalized life prescriptions I should be heeding. But such is the case and so here, for better or worse, is the list of items to which I will somewhat steadfastly adhere for roughly 365 days (starting sometime early next week).


I will make a concerted effort to give referees the benefit of the doubt; particularly when it appears they obtained their credentials for passing judgment on the team I’m rooting for from the bottom of a certain sweet and tasty popcorn treat container.

I will attempt to refrain from laughing out loud when either the Devil or Boy make a particularly boneheaded play or comical faux pas. Hey…they would do the same to me if the roles were reversed.

I will resist the urge to put gravy on my arena fries. Gotta feeling this one may fall before all the others. After all, fries and gravy is like the lifeblood of Canada, eh?

I will turn off or at least place my phone on vibrate during the Devil’s and Boy’s games or at least during their shifts.

In the unlikely event I am unable to locate a previously unvisited arena in a remote rural town, I will strongly consider stopping to ask for directions.

I will try to not partake in pre or post-game tailgating festivities, which may or may not include the occasional alcoholic beverage. Yeah, you can likely file this one with the fries and gravy. What else are you gonna do for an entire hour before a game or after a particularly satisfying victory? Besides, idle chit chat  about who’s not getting enough ice time or the relative merits of a particular penalty killing scheme generally require liquid accompaniment.

I will be mostly, wholly satisfied with strong efforts and good tries in lieu of first places and championship victory laps; though the latter would be gladly welcomed and thoroughly enjoyed. To this former end, I will further remind myself it’s a whole lot easier to “skate harder” and “hit the net” from my comfy vantage point up in the stands or behind the glass because the game sure changes once I slap on the gear.

Further to the last pledge, I will likewise try to not second guess coaching decisions. I should certainly know better having recently occupied a spot on the bench, but I think we’re all guilty of biased and ill-informed opinions from time-to-time. Of course,  it’s been well documented that some of us are more vocal with those opinions than others and I certainly don’t plan on being “that hockey parent”. On this note, I will refrain from donning the ever-popular rose-coloured glasses worn so often by “those hockey parents”.

I will do my best to tolerate the jeers (or are those cheers) of rival hockey parents and players when those same rivals score a goal or land a particularly memorable body check on one of our Boys or ladies. I mean, surely I don’t sound like that when ours is on the right side of such occurrences. Just in case, I will endeavour to keep my post goal/victory celly’s to a reasonable level.

Finally, I can, with all confidence, promise to continue to enjoy my time spent at the rink watching the Boy and the Devil play the game they love no matter when, where or for how long that may be.

I am certain there are many of you who are making similar, if not slightly more realistic, annual decrees and I would love to hear them. There’s probably a few I should and will be adding to my scroll.


Hockey Teams Battling and Winning Through Thick and Thin

Momma and the Boy were set to travel a little over three hours North last weekend, where his team would compete in a qualification tournament for the Silver Stick International Tournament in the new year. The Devil and I were staying behind as she had three regular season games of her own to play (what else is new?).

When we woke up on the morning of their departure I noted he had developed a pretty nasty cough, which didn’t bode well for a weekend performance on the road. Sure enough upon arriving at their destination 10 hours later,  the cough had become a hack from an increasingly sore throat with an elevated body temperature to boot. By dinner time the Boy’s condition continued to deteriorate and a teammate was required to deliver him, a shivering lump, back to the hotel room to hopefully sleep off whatever bug he was battling in order to play two games the next day.  Momma says he didn’t sleep much at all through the night.  He would text me later saying he thought he was going to die (a little dramatic, but most women can attest to how men can be debilitated by colds and flus).  The morning arrived with the nasties solidly in tow. Having driven as far as they did, the Boy decided he would give it the old college in the first game and play it by ear after that. To complicate things, the team’s backup goalie was likewise battling pneumonia, while one other defenceman took a big hit causing a concussion in a game earlier in the week. Qualifying for the big tourney would have to be accomplished short-handed.

Momma reports the Boy struggled through the first game with a notable and pretty understandable lack of energy based on his sleep or lack thereof.  The team would take their first match, perhaps lightening the Boy’s otherwise bleak situation.  Game two, scheduled to start eight hours later would be a hit or miss proposition.  The Boy spent the entire afternoon in bed then decided on college try number two.  The team would win again, but by all accounts the Boy was a merely a warm body on the ice to spell some of his teammates (warm being the operative word).  He and Momma were hopeful another night’s sleep would help to evict his unwanted guest. Unfortunately, the second night was much like the first leaving the lad iffy for the next day’s final round-robin and hopefully semi-final games. As it turned out, he would play or at least see ice-time in the third game and one period of the semi-final before he would finally succumb to his sickness.  I’ve since been told by other parents that we should be proud of the effort he gave under the circumstances.

As is so often the case with teams and viruses, a few teammates were also starting to show symptoms similar to the Boy’s. This is generally inevitable as teammates dress in close, stanky quarters where bacteria must salivate at opportunity to feed and breed. You can almost smell and feel sickness when you enter some dressing rooms. From her behind-the-bench vantage point, Momma (the team trainer) would report via text that at least one player may have left one of his lungs on the ice after having coughed it up in the semi-final game. And yet, with all of this turmoil the team would find the strength and conviction to work its way into the Championship game. The Boy would reluctantly join his two beleaguered comrades as a cheerleader in the stands. Perhaps some of their spirit helped to propel their shortened squad to a convincing victory in the final, claiming the Championship and the desired berth in the bigger tourney down the road. However, in keeping with the health-related theme of the weekend another player joined the ranks of the sick or injured when he was charged by an opponent leaving him with a broken clavicle and damaged shoulder joint. While the first three players, including the Boy, are set to return to action this week or next, he unfortunately is facing a few weeks away from the game. Hopefully, all will be mended for the Silver Stick.  I’m pleased to report the team has already had two games since returning from the qualifier (cuz there’s no rest for the wicked) and the Boy has competed in both. Momma, on the other hand, has not been so lucky her nursemaid duties put here square in the path of the same bug that bit the Boy. She’s been incapacitated since their return. I and the Devil have thus far dodged the deadly bullet (he says, all the while knocking on whatever wood is close proximity).

Speaking of the Devil and while the other two were off on their disease-ridden adventure, I watched the Devil’s team continue their strong play, albeit not without a couple of bumps in the road and injuries of their own. Case in point bump-wise is a match against their closest geographic rival, which found them on the losing side of a 3-1 score with only three minutes left in the game.  The coach decided to pull his goalie early. This proved to be a prudent move as the girls scratched to within one goal with about 90 seconds remaining. The goalie would return to her net for the ensuing faceoff, but as soon as the puck entered the opponents end, she was yanked from her perch again. Having an extra player on the ice worked for a second time as the Devil and her mates tied the game with less than 30 ticks on the clock. The opposing side was no doubt dumbstruck by what had just happened while the good guys extended their regular season unbeaten streak to 11 games.

The Sharks next game, a couple of days later, would be against a lesser opponent, yet they would enter the third period with only a one goal lead. The coaches’ between period speeches must have been effective as the team would extend the score to 5-0 when the final buzzer sounded.

Game three in four days for the Sharks would again see them falling behind 2-1 on the scoreboard after two periods on the strength of several big saves by the other team’s goaltender. However, again they would come out in the third with all guns blazing and skate to a 3-2 victory; running their regular season record to an impressive 13-1-1. This currently puts them in first place in the standings though they’ve played a few more games than their closest rival. Their only loss to date came in the first game of the year against the same rival and they have yet to play the victor from that game a second time. The rematch is forthcoming. It will no doubt be a barometer; setting a tone for the remainder of the season.

We’ve witnessed a lot of exciting games and situations through the both the Boy’s and Devil’s seasons already. Soon it will be time for a brief holiday rest. Then we will be right back at it to close the regular year and move into league and provincial playoffs.  We’ve at least two more trips on tap as well, which always have a way of generating stories whether we like them or not.  Stay tuned hockey fans….who needs the NHL with all of this real hockey drama?


I’m Dreaming of a Beauty Hockey Christmas

Having reached the front end of another frosty December, it’s time again to come up with a Yuletide wish list, assuming yours truly meets the demanding criteria necessary to stay off the naughty ledger, which itself may be a stretch.  Ledgers aside, here are few requests, submitted for Saint Nick’s consideration whether he’s listening or not.

Santa Claus hockey

  • A few pretty dangles, bar down snipes or top shelf lasers to wow the crowd and make dad proud.
  • The parking spot closest to the front door for each and every arena we visit for the balance of the season cuz if you’re gonna dream…dream BIG!
  • An unbreakable composite stick for da Boy – no further explanation required.
  • Don Cherry’s Rock’Em, Sock’Em #whatevernumberthey’reupto. Every one to date has been worth a watch.
  • A Tim Horton’s gift card of any denomination that suits his Kringlenesses’ fancy – pretty much a given ask for any Canadian hockey parent.
  • A Gold Medal for Team Canada at the World Juniors to cap an annual holiday tradition of watching some of the best hockey you will ever see.
  • A few friendly bounces of the puck over sticks, between pads or simply behind an unsuspecting goalie or two.
  • A cloning machine so I can be in two rinks to watch two different games at the same time or perhaps a life-PVR so I can just go back and watch what I missed afterwards.
  • A one or two Get Out of Jail Free Cards for use when a ref makes a particularly questionable call (as rarely as that may happen) and which I may use at my sole discretion.
  • More wins than losses and more smiles than frowns in either order, though one generally has a way or influencing the other.
  • Silver Stick/OMHA Championships for the Boy’s team and Lower Lakes/OWHA Trophies for the Devil and her mates. It’s my list and I can raise the bar as high as I damn well please. (Sorry Santa, I didn’t mean to use a cuss word.)
  • A cessation of NHL labour news until after they actually settle the damn thing and just get back to playing hockey.  How many times can you say, “There’s no progress to report.” I’ve actually said to many people I’d be happy going with a condensed regular season every year; assuming we still start in September.
  • A wayback machine (as a complement to my cloning machine) to recapture a few more of the memorable moments either the Devil or the Boy has had on the ice over the past 12 years.

That’s my preliminary list, such as it is.  Let me know what hockey items you might want to find under your tree or in your stocking?

Image courtesy of http://www.stanleycupofchowder.com/2009/2/27/774400/twas-the-night-before-hoc

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