Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Hockey Life: That went quick

It's amazing just how quickly time can fly by. It seems just like yesterday, rather than last August, that Colin was starting his first regular season game of fall-winter travel hockey, playing for the Tampa Bay Jr. Lightning Squirt A squad. But here we are, as the calendar gets ready to turn to February, with the kids having only tournament games in the weeks ahead.

Going into the campaign, I wasn't quite sure what to expect -- from Colin as well as his team. But after competing hard in preseason tournament in South Florida and then winning one over the Labor Day weekend, it was easy to think there would be some happy hockey days.

To some degree, that gut feeling came true. The team, the result of a merger between the Tampa Bay Titans and Tampa Bay Jr. Lightning, established itself as a solid squad, finishing second, with a 13-5 record, in its nine-team Central Florida Hockey League division.

Thankfully, the team had more peaks and valleys. Exciting victories over competitive teams were far more common than days when the kids, for whatever reason, were out of sync. Brilliant displays of teamwork overcame painful teaching moments. Team gatherings at restaurants, even when other diners were behaving worse than our kids, were hilariously memorable.

For Colin, though, it has been a season of growth. In all honesty, my expectations going into his first campaign were rather low -- get a handle on the speed and caliber of the play, keep game-changing mistakes to a minimum and, if he was lucky, score at least five points.

As one proud hockey father, I'm delighted to say that Colin greatly exceeded those expectations.

It took only a few games for him to understand that he could skate with these kids and, in some cases, pull ahead. After a few shaky moments early on, he earned a spot on his team's penalty-killing unit. And, despite what refs missed and error-prone Pointstreak logged, he nearly averaged a point a game (7 goals and 8 assists in 18 games).

Really, I couldn't ask for more. To his credit, though, he went above and beyond. He developed a reputation for being a pest, willing to forecheck, backcheck and not shy away from puck battles. His passing, in my opinion, improved with each game. Most of all, though, he showed there wasn't an ounce of quit in him.

When we started this journey, it was our goal to raise a hockey player. Not a goal scorer, nor a team's star. Just a hockey player, one willing to do all of the little things that make a difference. Though he has plenty to work on, Colin's first fall-winter season of travel team hockey showed he took steps in the right direction.

Well done, buddy. You should be proud of yourself.

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