Being a Junior C Hockey Dad is Different…and the Same

Boy and the Shamrock Bench
Been a while since I cyber-scrawled anything here, but being the Dad of a 20-year-old Junior C player is quite a bit different than cabbing a minor hockey player around from rink to rink. I am sure fellow parents who I see at the games Momma and I go to will attest to fact the game and most of the things around it have changed. I got to thinking about this after a recent trip to watch the Boy play and in seeing parents in the stands at the World Junior Championships or NHL games. We are all still parents, of course, but our relationships with our kids and the game are naturally dissimilar from when they were just kids. At the same time, there are flashes of the former experiences from time-to-time. Here are a few examples of both sides of the coin and I welcome my fellow hockey dads n’ moms to chime in with their own recollections.

Every game now is an away game for us as the Boy attends University about 90 minutes away and his squad plays out of a small town near his school. And so, Momma and I find ourselves driving at least 45 minutes to see him play anywhere, while he arrives at most “away” games on a coach bus, with a buddy or in his overly-accommodating girlfriend’s car. Just last night, we followed his bus for a while on our way to his latest match; an odd sensation to be sure. One bonus difference now is we don’t have to actually be at the rink until puck drop, while in contrast, during his minor hockey days we’d stand around for an over an hour twiddling our thumbs or joining fellow parents on “parking lot patrol” (i.e. tailgating). Instead we now anxiously seek out local establishments for a pre-game appies and a libation. Game nights have become mini date nights. In this, different is good.


Oh CanadaBecause it’s Junior C, even the pre-game is a little different as we all stand and remove our caps for the playing, and in some hoity-toity arenas the singing, of the National Anthem. Silly pre-game rules have seen teams start with a player in the penalty box when they failed to have five skaters on the ice for the traditional on-ice ceremony. Another interesting rule is a 10-minute misconduct issued to any player who crosses the red-line into enemy territory during warm-ups; a reminder of how this level of hockey can get a little chippy and overly antagonistic. After all, they are still relatively young lads with testosterone coursing through their veins. In considering some of my own “non-contact/non-competitve” beer league games, this is something which will likely never change; regardless of age.


Goal CellyOnce a game has started, the experience is both different and the same…for most of us hockey parents. My ability to cheer and/or “exhort” the officials to make the “right” call is somewhat compromised by both Momma and the Devil, who has attended a few games. “Don’t go yelling at the refs” they say. “You’re embarrassing us,” they plead. I (among others) admittedly need to be reminded this is “Junior C” hockey and quell my competitive instincts to vigorously voice my opinion. Inside this hockey dad (and I’m sure others like me), paternal instincts and feelings are very much the same as they ever were. I still beam with pride when the Boy makes a good pass, scores a goal (though these have been limited by his defensive role) or lays a good hit on an unsuspecting foe. My simple advice before every game has been consistent since he’s been old enough to body check, “Hit somebody!”, which I offer in selfish sincerity. And the Boy generally continues to oblige his dear ol’ dad. After the Boy has a good or bad shift, I will catch myself occasionally glancing at the bench to see what praise or criticism he’s received; sitting as a self-appointed, albeit biased judge and jury. I’ll mutter silent condemnations of my own where I feel their deserved, of which I’m allowed, cuz I’m the dad.

Post-game is a bit different too as previously we’d have an opportunity to discuss game high and low lights in some detail on the drive home, whereas now our drives are typically in our own vehicles and in opposite directions. So we settle for a few sound bites in the arena lobby or texts back and forth once we’ve reached home. Definitely not the same, but it’ll do.

Go ShamrocksAs it nears its close, this season has been interesting for the Boy and his Shamrock mates. As an aside, I absolutely love the fact he plays for a team called the Shamrocks based in a little mock-Irish village plopped in the middle of south central Ontario. However, the Shams, as they are affectionately called, are not the luckiest bunch with a win-loss record placing them at the bottom of the Georgian Bay Mid-Ontario Junior C Hockey League (GBMJCHL) standings. Though in their case this fact has less to do with luck than commitment and talent. In some mid-season games the bench for some away games was fortunate to include much more than two full lines, while the home team iced nearly double the bodies. When they have a full squad, the Shams can compete with nearly any team in their league. The Boy, for his part, has had some of his own objections to on and off-ice decisions, which is his prerogative and which he has reportedly voiced. Something about not seeing the ice in OT after scoring an OT winner against the same team only a couple of weeks prior. Yeah, Dad pondered the irony too. And so the Shams will nudge their way into the playoffs with the hopes of pulling an upset against one of the league leaders. Kindly bow your heads and we’ll all say a wee Irish prayer to the @HockeyGods for them.

Regardless how different this season may be, I (we’re) thankful for the opportunity to watch him play again, when we thought it had all abruptly ended a couple of years ago. We’ve only a single regular season and hopefully a few more playoff date nights left, so we’ll be sure to cherish them and I’ll try to keep my disapproving mutterings to a minimum. #GoShamrocks


Learning How to “Dad” from the Best in the Business

Fatherhood is hard. Yeah, there, I said it. Trumped only marginally by motherhood because of a nine-month gestation period and several agonizing hours of labour pain, we admittedly ill-equipped male halves of the species are charged by the Universe with helping procreate, nurture, protect and raise complex bundles of life from conception through the terrible twos, the teen years and ultimately into adulthood.

So where, we plead, is the operating manual for this Herculean task? Where might we find the cosmic instruction sheet or YouTube video on how to do all of this correctly; if there even is such a thing? If these paternal tomes exist, I certainly haven’t been privy to them, nor have I spoken with anyone who has. Rather, each of us is left to our own devices, our often questionable masculine intuition and what we can pick up from our own fathers, forefathers, friends, peers and otherwise experienced dads. For instance, my dad instilled an appreciation for all things sport in me. He’s also, no doubt, largely responsible for my competitive nature. He drove me to countless arenas both near and far for hockey practices and games when I was but a wee lad (insert short joke of your choice here for comic relief.) I’ve obviously followed quite closely in his footsteps.

Super Dad

            Sun’s Out, Guns Out!

However, the Dad Gods have also blessed me with a superb role model whose fatherly instincts are beyond reproach. You see, I have this friend who I can confidently say qualifies as a bona fide Super Dad. A man whose devotion, commitment and pride in his Boys is, in my estimation, equaled by few (present company excluded). And yes, I know lots of dads go above and beyond for their kids (present company now included), but this guy has consistently set the bar ridiculously high for the rest of us. From the moment each of his sons were born, he has sacrificed time and time again to bring his kids up properly, to steadfastly teach them right from wrong, to ensure they grew up to be fine upstanding young men. In this he has succeeded in spades and his pride shines through whenever he speaks about them or their personal accomplishments to date.

This Dad's the BestIf you look up “dedication” in the dictionary, I’m positive you’ll find my buddy’s smiling mug. Some sports parents feverishly throw together pre or post-game snacks for their kids as they head out the door to the next field or arena. This guy literally spends hours filling coolers to the brim with homemade epicurean wonders; like 48 char-broiled, chicken souvlakis, a few dozen individually prepared spinach and pepper frittatas or mangos slices pared just so in order to maximize their tropical sweetness. His Boys, along with their no doubt salivating teammates, needed to eat and eat well they did.

Lots of dads take a little time off work to cheer at most of their kids’ games. My buddy has been known to drive five hours in one direction then back again to make sure he didn’t miss a minute of either Boy’s competition. All, of course, regardless the cost of food, gas, his time or anything else which might otherwise be a deterrent. On more than one occasion, I’ve tried to see if he slipped up, so I could catch a glimpse of the red cape I suspect he’s been tucking under his collar.

And never mind his own kids, this dude is everyone’s favourite uncle. Each child naturally drawn in by his larger-than-life spirit and genuine caring nature. Or perhaps it was the sincerely appreciated, albeit unnecessary Christmas presents he delivered every year without fail or the $5 he’d leave under their pillows for the gracious loans of their beds to save him a late-night drive home. On several occasions he’d show up at a rink to watch the Boy or Devil play as he’d also done more than once for other friends’ kids. Post game he was their biggest fan (present company excluded for a second time.) Unca Poobs is quite simply the best!

The only real blemish on this gentleman’s sparkling resume is the time he ruined the Holidays by tackling a certain family’s Christmas tree and in so doing crushing several cherished ornaments. In his defence, the Scotch Pine had been needling him the entire evening and the host of the yuletide event was eggnogging him on. This transgression was quickly forgotten.

In the fatherly helper category, he’s also come in handy. For instance, on one occasion he deftly suggested the Devil consider substituting her somewhat provocative teenage apparel choice for a burlap bag and some binder twine, so an not to attract any pre-pubescent admirers. What father wouldn’t appreciate this kind of sensible fashion advice?

Right now, my dear friend is going though a pretty rough time (#fuckcancer), yet even in this, his ability to inspire only grows. His current circumstances are hardly keeping him from cheering on the sidelines of blustery November rugby matches. Whatever he’s feeling on the inside is tucked bravely away as he stoically roots his lads and their teams on. An opportunity to teach lesson in courage and perseverance is not lost on him

Dad Done Good

       This Dad Done Good!

Overall, I think I’ve been a pretty decent dad, an accomplishment I owe in no small part to the example set by my fellow father. Thanks for helping me figure out how to do a fair chunk of this Brother. Methinks we done did good.


p.s. A GoFundMe campaign has been established here for my friend to help cover some of his medical expenses. Please check it out and consider donating if you’re so inclined.

p.s.s. On a broader, related note, if you have another extra sec and can spare an extra shekel or two, bounce over to my #Movember page at to me help kick cancer’s ass and support men’s health. All us men-folk would be ever so grateful.

Nearing the End of a Hockey Era

hockey scoreboardTime is ticking down on the Devil’s season, her minor hockey career and a major focus of our family’s life over the past 14 years or so. While this season has been a challenge on and off the ice for the Devil and I, there is still no substitute or equal to going to the rink and watching my kid play. And whether I like it or not, those chances are fleeting. While I coach the entire team, I also root for her to do well…for her to have fun in these last few weeks; regardless goals, assists, wins or losses; just fun playing hockey like she did when she was 4. I know, what say we just roll time back a while?

This past weekend the Devil and her teammates played their final regular season game, in which they needed to a secure a victory in order to advance on to the playoffs; albeit in the last spot, which would in turn mean a date with the number one squad and their 20-1-1 record.  I told the players before our last game all I wanted for them was a playoff chance, having been part of an upstart Cinderalla team a few years back. Unfortunately, the somewhat anemic offence, which put them in their must-win predicament, would once again be their downfall. The team played hard from the start, but found themselves in a 1-0 hole after the first period. They out-played and out-chanced their opponents throughout the second period and the first half to the third and yet the scoreboard read 2-0 bad guys with 7 minutes left in the match. Our side was even the beneficiary of a couple of powerplays, including a 5 on 3 advantage, yet could not find the back of the net. As the clock rolled down around the 5 minute range I decided I would go for broke at the next opportunity and pull our goaltender in favour of an extra skater. The opportunity would not present itself for another couple of minutes and I saw the season winding down along with the chronograph. My last ditch attempt only served to make the final score 3-0 as their side found its way behind our defence with an open net before them.

So now all we have left to hang our hopes on is a best-out-of-3 series with the aforementioned 20-1-1 side as they also happen to not so conveniently be our regional provincial playdown foes. Did I mention in three games this year our aggregate score against this team is 21-3 and we’re on the wrong side of the equation? Realistically, we need a monumental effort if we wish to advance. Cue the pre-game speech from “Miracle” or some other such call to arms. My all-time favourite movie is Henry V and maybe it’s time for a pre-series viewing of the St. Crispin’s Day speech, as our early odds of victory are somewhat similar to those of Henry’s overmatched charges preparing to take on the French.

I do, as always, hold out hope for our band of underdogs. Hope they can rise to the occasion and pull off an upset. Hope we get to watch a few more games. Cuz I, for one, am still not quite ready for it all to be over. We do have a whole buncha practices between now and the end of March, but those just ain’t the same when there are no actual games to prepare for and no tryouts for next season on the horizon. Then again it’s time on the ice, which is better than the alternative and we’ll make the best of it…try to get a few chuckles in along the way. Tick, tock…


An Ode to Me and Other Aging Hockey Dads

Been a while since I jotted anything here, what with it being summer and all. The Devil’s fully recovered from her broken limb and methinks chomping at the bit to get back on the ice for her final minor hockey season. Yup, final…the end…nuttin’ left for this ole hockey dad to do, but reminisce. As Father’s Day falls tomorrow, I thought it may be appropriate to construct a little ditty for me and my fellow Dads. For those who wish to sing along, this has been roughly written to the tune of Mrs. Robinson (I know not why, but it was the first ballad to pop into my head). With gratitude and forgiveness to Simon & Garfunkel for the butchered lyrics.

Boy in GoalYoung Hockey DevilWe’d like to say a few words about the job that you have done
All the rinks you’ve been to through the years
We know you did it all cuz ya luv the Devil and yer son
And how they looked up when you cheered

 So here’s to you Mr. Hockey Dad
We appreciate you more than you can know
Whoa Whoa Whoa

Hockey Gods bless you please Mr. Hockey Dad
Heaven holds a place for those who play
Hey Hey Hey
Hey Hey Hey

Pucks shot in the top shelf where they say only Grandma goes
You beamed with pride on every goal
A fancy pass, a  thunderous check, a win when all seemed lost
You’ll still remember when you’re old

Koo-koo-ka-choo, Mr. Hockey Dad
They appreciate you more than you can know
Whoa Whoa Whoa

Puck Gods bless you please Mr. Hockey Dad
Heaven hold a place for those who skate
Hey Hey Hey
Hey Hey Hey

Hockey Gods

Freezing in the stands on another Sunday afternoon
Where else would you expect to find him
With one year left he thinks it’s simply ending all too soon
But then again there’s always grandkids you remind him

Where have you gone Anze Kopitar
Dads will turn their hockey eyes on you
What’s that you say Mr. Hockey Dad
Anze’s Kings just won the cup and skate away
Hey Hey Hey
Hey Hey Hey

A little self-serving  and a whole lotta corny yes, but what the hell….it’s Daddy’s Day, so I’m taking my poetic license and skating with it. Cheers to all you other Hockey Dads out there wherever you are. See ya at a rink in the Fall, if not sooner.

hockey dads watching a game


What’s A Hockey Dad To Do When The Season Ends

Every hockey season inevitably has to come to an end; far too early for most hockey dads including yours truly. However, this is an important time for all to rest, relax, reflect and maybe even pursue other interests or attend to certain neglected commitments. Young hockey players, as I’ve firmly stated previously, should be encouraged to try alternative sports or hobbies, in order to become better rounded athletes and people. That being said, dads, particularly those who pull double-duty as their kids’ coaches, can and no doubt do, keep one eye on the next campaign. With this in mind, here’s a brief list of suggestions for father’s looking to pass the time between puck drops in semi-constructive ways.

♠ Catch up on all those heart-wrenching episodes of The Bachelor you missed cuz you were always at a rink on Mondays at 8pm Eastern, 6pm Central and 5pm in the West. Spoiler alert: Juan Pablo and his Spanish accent are to die for #justsayin.

♣  Brew your own beer. You’ll need it to cry in after the last devastating loss when all you needed to do was beat a team you had already defeated by four goals  once to advance to the next round.

♥ Focus on your job. Yeah, you know…that thing you do between 9am and 5pm most Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and occasional Saturdays.

♦ Calm the hell down. Yeah, you know who you are hockey dad. How bout yoga, a little zen meditation or maybe a stiff dose o’ Xanax?

♠ Perfect your mastery of the Oomphalapompatronium.

♣ Write a somewhat contrived, but mildly amusing blog post about what hockey dads should do when their kids’ season is prematurely over.

♥ Spend hours scouring the Internet for overly-complicated drills to impress parents who never come to watch their kids practice and thoroughly baffle your attention-challenged players who do.


♦ Play Scrabble in bed with your Hockey Momma or otherwise better half; occasionally allowing her to win if you know what’s good for you.

♠ Catch a game or two or 17 from the NHL, KHL, OHL, CWHL, ECHL, QMJHL or IDIDNTEVENKNOWTHEREWASHOCKEYINFIJIHL if you need a fix…..and you will undoubtedly need a fix about a day or two into your unwelcomed hiatus. There is no shortage of entertaining hockey out there if you want take the time to find it.

♣ Tackle the over-flowing Honey Do Jar that’s been staring down at you from on top of the fridge for the last 6+ months.

♥ Two words: Bikini Wax.

♦ Get yerself a ball o’ yarn, a coupla needles and take up knitting. Maybe knit a nice sweater.

Knitted Winnipeg Jets Sweater

I don’t know who this dude is, but I dig his fashion sense.

♠ Find a missing Boeing 777 last seen somewhere over the Indian Ocean. While you’re at it, say hello to Amelia Earhart, Jim Morrison, D.B. Cooper and Bill Barilko (yes, I know his body was recovered, but I just couldn’t resist the aviation/hockey parallel, even if he was a Toronto Maple Leaf).

♣ Expand your sports horizons and check out other exciting pastimes. Like figure skating. Now there’s another ice sport you can really sink your teeth into and probably learn a thing or two from. So elegant, so graceful.

♥ Three more words: Extreme Navel Gazing

♦ Start a band, write a song, rent a Winnebago, go on the road, sleep with some groupies, get arrested, enter rehab, find Jesus, write a tell-all book, go on Oprah. That oughta kill a solid month.

♠ Go back over each period of every game from the season just past to figure out how you could have done things differently. Yeah, now there’s a constructive use of your time.

♣ Memorize all 118 elements in the Periodic Table. Cuz ya never know when you might be tested on that shit.

♥ Call up Dennis Rodman. Collaborate on a solid plan to quickly and peacefully end hostilities in the Ukraine.

♦ Lie motionless on a chaise lounge in the backyard with one of your homemade beers in one hand and whatever ya like in your other and stare up into the sky until you find the cloud which most resembles #4 Bobby Orr flying through the air after tucking the fourth goal behind St. Louis netminder Glenn Hall in the fourth period of the fourth game of 1970 Stanley Cup Finals.

1970-Stanley Cup - Famous Goal Dive

Look Dad, we’re sorry, but hockey is not a 12 months of the year thing – nor should it be. How’s about ya just cool your jets and enjoy the Summer off with your family. The kid will be back on the ice and you’ll be back in your familiar spot down by the glass or behind the bench before ya know it. Now breathe, say four Hail Mary’s to the Hockey Gods and get back to the Indian Ocean cuz that plane sure as hell ain’t gonna find itself.


p.s. As always, I’m open to any other suggestions to help this restless dad pass the time.

Hockey Drill image courtesy of
Jersey image courtesy of–131433453.html
“The Goal” image courtesty of

Rink of Dreams…If I Build It, Who Will Come?

Shortly before the worst winter in recent memory decided to befall this part of the world, I decided to build a little rink in the backyard. And when I say little, I mean little.

Old Swimming PoolWhat I decided to do, in fact, was simply take our four-year old 18-foot diameter Intex steel-frame pool, which had decidedly reached the end of its useful summer life (though I received some resistance to this fact from the Devil) and reduce its height from 4 ft to about 6 inches all around. Then I would simply refill it with water and wait. At 18 feet in diameter (about the same as a faceoff circle), the most “hockey” one could realistically play would be some fancy stickhandling ala Patrick Kane or perpetual crossovers, which could quickly lead to dizziness, vomiting and perhaps even blackouts. I know because I sometimes have my players skate around a circle between drills at the Devil’s hockey practices and it’s never well received. Back at the rink to be, for those who follow regularly, you realize I am the father of two now mature teenagers aged 18 and 16 years respectively, the former of whom, doesn’t even reside in the family home anymore. I am sure Momma and the Devil were asking themselves why I was even bothering with this whimsical project. But it just seemed like the right thing to do at the time. If I built it, surely someone would come and skate on it.

Building the Rink

At the time, I regarded myself something of a genius, a veritable ice making MacGyver (who knew such rare footage existed) as I deftly made my way around the pool-turned-giant-ice-cube tray with my handy Exacto knife. I wondered if I should make a YouTube video to share my ingenious invention with other space-restricted hockey dads or perhaps even erstwhile used steel-frame pool salesmen. Having set the trap, all I needed to do now was wait for Mr. Freeze to arrive so I could begin the process of refilling the converted leisure vessel one last time. The aforementioned Freeze and his cousin Jack (Frost that is) showed up about a week before Christmas much to my delight. However, I was immediately presented with a dilemma as I hadn’t yet considered, which water source would be best suited to supply the critical ingredient. My first ill-conceived plan was to attach a garden hose to the outside faucet, which surely wouldn’t freeze that quick at barely sub-zero temperatures. After struggling mightily just to turn the metal tap the faucet produced barely a trickle of my much needed ice juice and so a secondary source would need to be procured. Momma was none too pleased to see me stretching the now snow-covered hose through our kitchen, down the main hall and into the laundry room where I determined the next best solution resided. A couple of minutes later I was in business, hastily filling what I began to realize was a less than level container. I soldiered on and put the base layer down knowing the frosty cousins were forecast to be in town for a few days. Sure enough, just before Christmas and in sync with da Boy’s arrival home for a three week rest from Uni, I had fully constructed a nice “little” rink. Delight returned via social media a couple of days later when I saw da Boy announce that he and the Devil were actually on the ice working on their stickhandling. This was quickly tempered by the report of a broken fence board courtesy of a puck having been shot at it. Ahhh, fence boards are easy enough to replace. Collateral damage from being a hockey dad.

I arrived home to see the rink littered with pucks, sticks and even pylons. A bottle of gatorade was half buried in the snow next to a small lawn chair. It might not be big, but this is how I like to see hockey I said to myself. Over the next few days, da Boy was back out on the wee rink doing his best Patrick Kane impression with bits of Brian Bollig’s not so mad stick skills mixed in.

Even the poochie liked the new backyard addition, though she felt the snow had been cleared especially for her so she could do her business right in the middle of my personal shrine to the game. Damned dog.

Boy on the Rink
Here we are a few weeks later. Da Boy’s headed back to school. The Devil has school, a full slate of her own hockey and a buncha other teenage-type priorities. So the wee rink hasn’t really been used much of late and probably won’t be anytime soon. And yet, after each snowfall, of which there have been several, I find myself drawn out with a shovel to uncover the slick surface beneath. Ice Rink at NightI’ve even peered out our 2nd floor bathroom window to see the frozen circle bathed in moonlight just before I hit the hay and thought about grabbing my skates to go do a couple of “laps”. Then, as I look down I can vaguely see da Boy frantically holding onto a chair for dear life, but suddenly, steadily, victoriously, making his way across the ice. Beside him I see a miniature Devil lying on her back doing snow angels in her hockey gear and grinning ear-to-ear in behind her cage as her small, pink, round glasses fog up again. Hell, I can almost see myself shooting a puck across an ice-covered farmers field next to our house in Manitoba and then chasing it for what seemed at the time like forever, only to turn around and shoot it back in the other direction. Maybe that’s why I built the little rink…so I could glance back to these moments frozen in my mind. Cue the scene from the movie…”Hey Dad, wanna go for a skate?” These little figments are welcome to drop by and skate in my backyard any time they like. Nope, it’s not much…just enough to draw out a few fond memories, making it all worth the effort. Next year’s version might even be bigger and better. Keep an eye out for the DIY YouTube video.


Hockey Dad Holiday Wish List

Hockey Santa

I know it’s gettin’ a little late, but here’s some last minute help if you are still trying to decide what to get the hockey dad who has everything. What to put in the ol’ hockey stocking hung by the chimney with care?

A Tim’s card (which you can now even buy online) is always nice and for some (like those of us who serve double duty as hockey coach) a Liquor Store card is even nicer. But gift cards can be somewhat impersonal. Overworked, underpaid hockey dads should really be rewarded for the countless hours they spend bent over tying skates, out on the driveway blocking rock hard rubber discs with paper thin road hockey equipment or feverishly scraping windshields with half-frozen digits at 5:30am in the middle of January to get junior to a practice he or she isn’t really all that thrilled about going to. I’m mostly beyond having to perform these terribly terrific tasks and have been able to strike most of them from my memory. Yet, I think it’s important to lobby for my younger fellow hockey dads who are dutifully towing the parental line to raise better, more well adjusted children and for my older hockey dad colleagues or perhaps even hockey grandpas who have likewise put in the time and are deserving of some small token of appreciation.

  • An industrial-sized box of Hot Shots hand warmers (though upon investigation you can apparently also purchase foot, toe and body warmers)…cuz Dad’s hands and feet get cold too after standing in an old-style rink in the middle of nowhere for hours on end.
  • Along the same line, though supporting an ulterior motive, get yer dad a nice pair of noise-cancelling ear muffs to naturally keep his ears warm, but also to block out the often incessant drone of over-zealous hockey moms, over-bearing hockey dads or over-used cowbells. Hockey doesn’t necessarily need more cowbell.
  • A certain hockey coach Dad will take a few bounces and a little luck here or there realizing this is something the Hockey Gods rather than Santa will have to deliver. Do ya think them Gods have Naughty and Nice list. I think I should be on the latter for the most part. Have only lost my cool with the refs a couple of times so far this season and never to the point where I took a penalty.
  • One of these new fangled unbreakable hockey sticks, which may cost a bunch up front, but could save a bundle in the long run
  • A coupla beers, a fews bags of microwave popcorn and the hockey film holy trinity — Slapshot, Miracle and Goon (though I might get some flack for this one, I thought it was hilarious). Feel free to follow these up with The Mighty Ducks, Mystery Alaska and The Rocket. Please, under no circumstances, accidentally buy or give Slapshot 3 as a present for anyone.
  • How bout a coupla tickets to a Major Junior or NHL game (Oh yes, Barrie Colts or Winnipeg Jets tickets if anyone is asking bout yours truly), cuz what else would a hockey dad want to do when he’s not at a rink watching hockey, but go to a rink and watch hockey.
  • A get out of the penalty box free card…or two. two minutes for roughing
  • An unexpiring coupon, the bearer of which, is entitled to a few solid hours of couch time on any given Sunday afternoon in the off-season.
  • A time machine to occasionally go back and watch the kids first strides on the ice,  their tyke hockey games, their first goals and to recatch their celebrations complete with ear-to-ear grins.
  • A frozen pond, a net, skates, a stick and a bottomless bag o’ pucks – simple perfection.
backyard rink

Ok, it’s no frozen pond, but it’s the best this suburban hockey dad can do on short notice.

See, we hockey dads don’t ask for too much.

Merry Ho Ho and Happy Shopping!


Hockey Santa image courtesty
Penalty Box Photo – Two For Roughing courtesy


Hockey Dad vs. The Boyfriend: A Tale of Parental Angst

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.

Little Devil Hockey Player

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.

Keep Calm and Date a Hockey Player

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.


Image courtesy

A Wild Ride to the End of the Hockey Line

I thought this final chapter would be a little difficult to write through eyes blurred by the memories of 14 years on ice, so I decided before we embarked on our weekend trip to the 41st Annual Leo Boivin Major Midget AA/AAA Showcase tournament I would try to construct something of a photo essay of our journey to the end of the Boy’s minor hockey life.  Pictures, as they say, tell a thousand words and in some cases even these photos fall short of summing up an incredible three-day hockey experience. This was, without a doubt, one of the best tourneys we’ve ever attended…and how fitting  it should be the last. So follow along if you will and forgive any typ0s, which will have nothing to do the occasional nostalgic tear dropped on my keyboard I assure you.


loaded hockey van

Van loaded to the roof though it is only a three-day tourney. Luggage – check, Equipment – check, Sticks – check, Cooler for Dad – check. And of course, it’s snowing.



Tim Hortons

Every real minor hockey trip starts at the local Timmies…and the snow continues to fall.










hockey player convoy

Something of a hockey player convoy as five carloads of players, parents and even a coupla siblings make their way four hours down the highway. We’ve also move south and left most of the snow behind us.

hockey pit stop

With the first game scheduled for two hours after our arrival, we stopped early to fuel our finely tuned young athletes. Are those pre-game french fries and root beer I see?


Leo Boivin Community Centre - Prescott, Ontario

The Leo Boivin Community Centre, iconic home of this now fabled tourney is a classic small town Canada barn with wooden bleachers and championship banners from days gone by hanging from the rafters.











hockey team runner

Each team in the tourney adopts their own personal runner for the weekend, who is responsible for filling water bottles, hanging jerseys, familiarizing the players with the rink and lending one more voice to cheer at game time. Our team in turn supplied the young lad with his own signed jersey, which apparently and quickly became a prized possession.

game one vs Team Latvia

The Boys’ first test of the tourney would be their toughest in Team Latvia, who had reached the Championship game at this tourney the year prior. The team did well to skate with their skilled opponents trailing by a single goal after the first period. But the lead would be extended to four after the second. The Boy was the beneficiary of a broken play, which allowed him to break a Latvian shutout bid. The final score read 8-1 leaving the Boys a little dismayed, but by no means defeated.


The Row at the Leo Boivin Tournament

Before game one the team introduced themselves and made symbolic offerings to “The Row”, a special group of fans who are symbolic guardians of the tourney and whose allegiance can be swayed by those bearing gifts and showing reverence.













Another Leo Boivin tourney tradition is a post-game 3-Star selection with a twist. Those Boys selected as stars are required to accept their awards from one of the town's fairest maidens. In return, they are expected to plant a quick peck on the cheek of said the merriment of the crowd. On occasion, The Row demands the star to "Kiss All Three". Those teams more familiar with the process were noted to send their stars equipped with flowers for the young ladies. All very pomp and circumstance.

Another Leo Boivin tourney tradition is a post-game 3-Star selection with a twist. Those Boys selected as stars are required to accept their awards from one of the town’s fairest maidens. In return, they are expected to plant a quick peck on the cheek of said maiden…to the merriment of the crowd. On occasion, The Row demands the star to “Kiss All Three”. Those teams more familiar with the process were noted to send their stars equipped with flowers for the young ladies. All very pomp and circumstance-ish.


hockey team paradeLeo Boivin

Leo Boivin tournament opening ceremonies

Opening ceremonies complete with a parade of all 16 teams, a ceremonial puck drop, the anthems of the US, Latvia and Canada and an appearance from Leo Boivin, the tournament’s namesake, himself.


Boy's birthday

Coincidentally, this weekend would also find da Boy becoming da Man by virtue of his 18th birthday falling on Saturday morning. Quite the juxtaposition of a minor hockey career ending and a whole new chapter of life beginning. He subsequently got to open a few presents in the hotel room prior to game two. Fittingly, one stayed true to the hockey-themed weekend and would be eerily prophetic of things to come.

Game two pitted our squad against another AAA foe, but one we all felt would be an easier mark, particularly if our side brought their Double A game. And indeed we watched two very closely matched teams battle to a 1-1 tie through two periods. Unfortunately, a half-hearted shot from just above the slot about halfway through the final frame somehow found its way behind our goalie, who had played a stellar contest to that point. An empty netter would spell a second loss for the good guys and a rematch with a decidedly unpopular rival at 7:30am (an equally unpopular time) the next morning.

game two warmup

goal celebration









However, night two of the tournament featured a skills competition, which included fastest skater and hardest shot categories along with a one-on-one breakaway challenge and a four-on-four mini all-star match. Somehow (methinks birthday related) the Boy was selected by our coaching staff to compete in the hardest shot category, which immediately had me envisioning his infamous “Woooof”  a few years earlier; only this time in front of a few hundred more onlookers in a packed Leo Boivin Community Centre. I tried not to remind him of the somewhat embarrassing moment (he says with the knowing smirk of a caring father). Regardless he was honoured to be chosen and Momma and I were thrilled to see him and three of his teammates competing against players from all of the other teams.

hockey skills competition   hockey skills competitors








A highlight of the Skills Competition was watching local five or six year olds participate in  challenges of their own, mimicking their midget counterparts' skating, shooting and scoring. I'm sure I wasn't the only one in the stands looking down and trying to remember when my kid was that small.

A highlight of the Skills Competition was watching local five or six year olds participate in challenges of their own, mimicking their midget counterparts’ skating, shooting and scoring. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one in the stands looking down and trying to remember when my kid was that small.

Boy's Slap Shot

I’m pleased to report there was no Wooof this time around. And while the Boy didn’t measure up to some of the big shooters speed-wise, he did manage to go “bardown” with a 69 mph slapshot, much to the foul-minded amusement of the crowd.

Sunday morning and our 6am wake-up call arrived way too early. All bets were off on what type of game we might expect from our Boys or their all too familiar opponents, whom they’d ousted from the Provincial playdowns only a few weeks ago in a thrilling five-game series. To sweeten the pot in this grudge match, the opponents are still locked in a regional playoff battle with the other local league team the Boys removed from the Provincial championship equation in the following, equally exciting five-game series. It’s a wonder we have parents still standing. What we did all know is this could be the final game for our lads should they not be able to secure a win. As the game started, it seemed the knew this too as they were definitely the aggressors early on with a strong forecheck and several shots launched at the opposing keeper. A few minutes into the initial period, they would strike first giving us all a shot of hope. But the momentum would not be sustained as a few penalties were taken enabling the bad guys to tie the score and take the lead late in the second. And then, with the clock winding down in the middle frame, our goalie took exception to the taunting of an opposing player camped out in his crease as a whistle sounded to stop play. Within moments each players arms were flailing as others on the ice, including da Boy, watched from the periphery. I should preface this with mentioning da Boy’s team had one “fight” all year. Suddenly, a player close to da Boy decided to secure him in a headlock to which he says he responded, “Do ya wanna go?” Now his assailant apparently replied “No”, but da Boy had already decided a “fight” had indeed started and he was gonna finish it. He managed to remove his opponents “bucky” as they affectionately refer to their helmets and tossed a few right hands in the right general direction of his target. Meanwhile, one of his linemates grabbed his own dance partner and a partial line brawl ensued. The fracas was relatively short-lived as the linesman moved in. And with that, da Boy’s minor hockey career was brought to an abrupt end one period early; the upside being yours truly and da Boy would watch the rest of the game together side-by-side in the stands.

watching hockey in the stands

The Colts would not be able to mount a comeback in the third period. In fact, they gave up an empty netter for a second straight 3-1 defeat, thereby ending the minor hockey careers of all but one player. And while the three losses naturally stung as they should, the entire experience of the weekend felt far from hollow. In an impressive, unprompted show of class and character the Boys led by their Captain skated out in front of their parents to raise their sticks in a salute for not only this weekend, but a nearly quarter lifetime’s worth of getting up early, stopping at Timmies, driving to frozen rinks and sharing their victories, as well as their defeats.

hockey salute

Thank you Boys!

I count myself lucky for having the above photo to go along with all the others trapped securely in my head and I believe da Man sitting next to me will most likely say the same. Of course, I wanna hold onto da Little Boy sleeping in the back seat on the way home as long as I can.

asleep in the back seat

Now could you kindly pass the tissue cuz I gotta wipe off this blasted keyboard?


Backyard Hockey Rink Timelapse Video


Backyard Hockey Rink Timelapse Video