So occasionally I get to thinking these scribblings should be entitled I’m the Father of Two Hockey Players rather than I’m a Hockey Dad as the paternal nature of the job generally trumps the sports angle making it more deserving of the top billing. Such was the case this past weekend as the Devil’s first official “boyfriend” (yeah, I said it) accompanied us in the family vehicle to one of her away games. Now I don’t have a problem with the “boyfriend” (as a living, breathing person) since, as chance would have it, I’ve know him since he was 8 or 9 years old. There is a whole back story here about him being one of the Boy’s former hockey teammates and up until recently good friend. Suffice it to say the Boy was not a big fan of one of his buddies pursuing his sister. And I gotta say, I don’t blame him. I’ve discussed the whole situation with my buddies and we generally agree that he is contravening an unwritten, unspoken Bro-Code. Regardless, he is the “boyfriend” and it’s something the Boy and I are just going to have to deal with. Actually, the Boy has likely decided to just ignore the whole situation for now from his new university digs nearly 2 hours away. Leaving me to handle this male conundrum on my own.
As the father of two hockey players, my challenge is coming to grips with the whole “boyfriend” concept. I reluctantly have to realize she will not be my “little” Devil forever and yes I know this is something every dad goes through eventually. It’s just that eventually came a whole lot quicker than I, or I’m sure Hockey Momma, expected.
When we reached the arena and Hockey Momma sent me and the “boyfriend” on a traditional Timmies run, thereby subjecting at least one and probably both of us to 10 minutes of uncomfortable small-talk. We started naturally with hockey talk. But then my “How’s college?” question (did I mention he’s in college and she’s in Grade 11?) was mutually understood to be no more than a veiled reference to “Don’t touch my daughter.” I had a flash back to Bill Engvall recalling a conversation where he forewarned one of his girl’s suitors about what he would do should anything bad befall her on a date.
Had I not known this boy for as long as I have, I may have related the same.
Once at the hockey rink the new “boyfriend” caught the attention of several of the Devil’s teammates who hurled a catcalls in his general direction as teenage girls are wont to do. He retreated to a safer part of the arena, out of their sight. I gotta tell ya, the kid must be relatively smitten for all the abuse he’s taken over the last couple of weeks. Problem is I kinda recall likewise being cupid’s bullseye at a tender age and that doesn’t make me feel any better.
I was curious to see how the Devil would perform with him watching from the stands. Now, this was not the first time he had watched her play, but it was the first time as the “boyfriend”. Yeah, no matter how many times I write or say it, it’s not quite rolling easily off the keyboard or tongue. In any case, you could say the Devil played a less than inspired game with her beau cheering her on. I’m not sure, and pretty certain, if there was any cheering it was done quietly under his breath and she didn’t give him many opportunities anyway. Unfortunately, the Devil was not the only one with a sub-par performance as our Sharks were lucky to escape the first game of the weekend with a 1-1 tie after having registered a grand total of five or six shots on the opposing goal. Post-game, I made my way from behind the bench towards our dressing room, stopping briefly to mostly jokingly let the “boyfriend” know he was no longer allowed to attend our games. On the way home, we let the Devil know we thought she was negatively affected by her biggest fan. The pros and cons of his attendance at future contests would need to be weighted heavily in the best interest of the team.
The next day brought another game with one particular spectator notably absent due to a work shift. Now after the ribbing she received the day previous, the Devil was likely to have a better performance. And that she did; scoring the loan Sharks’ goal off of a beauty pass from one of her linemates. Upon scoring said goal and after an appropriate amount of cheering, I announced to the bench that the boyfriend was hereby banished from all future contests – an edict I know I’m not likely going to be able to enforce, but one which was thoroughly appreciated by those within earshot. A second very-spirited and penalty-filled match ended in a 1-1 draw bringing our regular season record to 0-1-4; something we and the Sharks will need to work on. That’s a whole other topic to be addressed in short order.
For now we’ll reserve judgment on the “boyfriend’s” presence at games and his affect on the Devil’s play; a pretty small concern for this father of two hockey players in the grand scheme of things. Glad I got a good Hockey Momma to help me deal with all this growing up stuff because I’ve had a difficult enough time handling my own maturation, much less that of a couple of young adults under my watch. I’m open to suggestions from any other fathers of female hockey players or who’ve gone through this before me.