Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Hockey Life: Glory days

Even though it's about three months away, I'm starting to get jacked up about a road trip back home to western New York. More than catching up with family and friends, attending my hometown of Machias' Community Day or my family's 70th annual reunion, there's one event I can't wait to take place.

One morning during our visit, a father and son (yes, that'll be us) will take a drive to the nearby city of Arcade. Tucked away in the back of the city's park is a street hockey rink. Actually, I think it's called a deck hockey rink. Either way, it'll be our destination.

More than 35 years ago, as a member of the Machias Norsemen, that rink is where I first played any form of organized hockey. It represented a major step up from the tennis courts and paved driveways where I had "played" before. And it was long before any steel blade roughed up any ice, be it a sheet, swamp, lake, pond or cornfield puddle.

At best, playing defense or wing, I like to think I held my own. Did my best to keep our crease open. Had an halfway decent slap shot (which I foolishly nicknamed "The Howitzer"), provided I had time for a huge wind-up, and I certainly wasn't afraid of any contact or, when opportunities presented themselves, getting into a scrap or two (scars on knuckles are proof). If memory serves, one or two even occurred post-game in the parking lot.

I've invited one of my old teammates, Jerry (my best friend growing up) to join us. I also plan on reaching out to a few others, too. Hopefully, it'll be a family-style gathering within a reunion-filled weekend. We're all around 50 years old now, give or take a few years, so this could be one of our last times together as a group.

The point of the visit, though, won't simply be to recall those days. Instead, it'll be to share a few moments in that rink shooting and passing, as well as reminiscing, with Colin. Given my girth and balky hips (still hurting from last week's escapades), I haven't been able to spend much time on the ice with Colin. And, as his dad, that bothers me.

This trip, though, will change that. To me, it'll be one of my favorite stops along the journey.

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