So the Boy is done “minor” hockey for good and the Devil’s new team has been picked for next season, meaning there will be no actual hockey played by either and none witnessed by me for the next couple of months. A sane and right-minded person would exhale deeply and say, “Thank you for the rest.” And yet, here I am, at least partially lucid and longing to be inside a rink already. I know of several other parents, particularly those from the Boy’s last team, who find themselves in the same quandary. We will have all of this extra time, but won’t be quite sure what to do with it. And we’re not the only ones, as our hockey momma directed me to a simple, yet telling tweet from the Boy a few days ago – “I miss hockey
#sadtweet“. Twitter likewise revealed the Devil’s anticipation as she quipped “Can’t wait for next years hockey season to start gunna be a great time”The Boy is playing ball hockey with a bunch of buddies 1-2 times a week and at the end of the month he and I will be sharing a rink for our annual Walter Gretzky Street Hockey Tournament appearance, but I’m sure it just isn’t the same. No familiar sound of ice meeting metal (with lyrical reverence to Tom Cochrane), no cold rush of arena air on your semi-startled face and no sonic booming of rock hard rubber against equally firm wooden boards. During the season, you need only listen to the Boy or Devil’s animated hyperbolic post-game recollections of sweet tape-to-tape, no-look passes or vicious bardown clappers from the slot to realize the thrill they get from competition – a void difficult, if not impossible, to fill with a couple of deft taps on a video game controller. I believe more importantly missed by my two hockey players is the camaraderie in the dressing room, on the bench and at the hotel during those out-of-town tourneys. For both, some of their best friendships were forged on ice and they always look forward to getting back together with the team; even if some of the players change from year-to-year. Minor hockey life is simply a unique experience you likely have to live to truly appreciate. The Boy will, I’m sure, find more hockey to enjoy; either at school or in a beer league with me perchance; and this will come close as I’ve come to appreciate with my own ragtag group of slightly over-aged teammates once a week. Yet, it likely won’t match the pure, quick and relatively unencumbered game he’s been playing for the last 14 years. Hopefully he, like I, will store away the vivid memories of those goals, high-fives and improbable wins to share with the next far-flung member of our hockey family whenever he or she should take to the ice. For now, the Devil and I will suffer the break betwixt skates and look forward to sucking back the first few gulps of frosty air signalling our official return to the game.