Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Hockey snapshot No. 2

Seconds into a travel hockey game last Saturday, between two of the Tampa Bay Jr. Lightning's three Pee Wee A-level teams, I couldn't help but smile watching Colin -- crossing over in only his second or third stride -- take off after the puck following the opening faceoff. All season long, his hustle factor has improved with each game.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Hockey Life: Catching up

A number of dispatches, mostly to bring everyone up to speed and, perhaps, explain the lack of posts over the past few weeks:

~ The meeting with the Event Development Institute, affiliated with the Tampa Bay Sports Commission, to bring an international youth hockey tournament to the Tampa Bay area in the next year to 18 months went as well as could be expected -- they let me in the building and didn't call security when I sat down at the table.

Seriously, though, it was a thrill to share this idea with people in place to potentially make it happen. They asked great questions and, hopefully, my answers were good enough. With some luck, we'll move forward with this project. An answer should arrive in the next week or so.

Either way, I'll share the news.

~  A few years ago, I made a deal with Colin. Any time he logged a hat trick, I'd buy him a hat. Earlier today, I kept that promise for the second such time. Eight days ago, in a rec league game for the Pinellas P.A.L. Stars, he scored three times, including the game-tying goal, in a 4-4 game.

What did he get? A knit tuque with headphones built into the ear flaps. Oh, yeah, he also earned his second Player of the Week hard hat from the Stars.

~ On the travel hockey front, Colin scored his first goal of the 2013-14 season. Took him 12 games, mind you, but it wasn't for the lack of trying. At first, he had to get some opportunities at this level. Then, he started hitting goal posts and crossbars. But, on Saturday, he finally lit the lamp, so to speak, with a wrister that eluded the goalie.

It's nice to see his hard work and persistence pay off.

~ The biggest reason I have written much lately? I'm heading into the home stretch of working 23 out of 26 days. Counting up my freelance work and some OT shifts, this is my last of three straight 63-hour weeks. Money's nice and I need to sleep, so something had to give.

Still, it's what this hockey dad has to do.

~ Yes, I also have to catch up with hounding reports. I've been out for the Los Angeles Kings (not so great), Minnesota Wild (the best, so far) and Boston Bruins (not so bad). This week alone, Colin and I will put in some hounding adventures with the N.Y. Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers and, quite possibly, the Pittsburgh Penguins.

You can look forward, too, to the return of Colin's hand-drawn team sheets.

~ For any of you keeping track, you may have noticed that I completed my Long Walk Home earlier this week. More than a year ago, when I started walking on a consistent basis as a way to shed tonnage, I set a goal of walking the 1,254.10 miles from our home in Hockey Bay to my hometown of Machias, N.Y.

With that goal reached, I've set my sights on Machias, Maine, the hometown of my hometown's original settlers, a trek of nearly 800 miles. On Thursday, Colin and I will participate in another father-son adventure, the Tampa Bay Times Turkey Trot's 5K Fun Run.

We'll walk, not run. That, alone, will knock out another 3 miles.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Thank you, folks

Over the past months, we've posted auctions on eBay, using game-used pink tape from Colin's hockey sticks, to raise money for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. All told, these auctions raised more than $100. Today, we donated $107. 50 from my PayPal account to the group.

As always, we appreciate your support.

PayPal logo Nov 16, 2013 12:41:11 PST
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Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Fundraising auction No. 5

With this fifth fundraising auction at eBay, featuring this hockey stick blade tape wrap, we're wrapping up Colin's efforts to raise money for breast cancer research. So far, we've raised more than $76 with the past four items.

The fourth auction, which came down to the final hour, ended successfully, when Jim, a Pioneer Central High classmate, stepped up. He joins Brett, AJ and Jerry in helping to support Colin's efforts, both on and off the ice.

This week's item saw plenty of action: one recreational hockey league game and three practices. Tthe tape comes from the Reebok RibCor 23K stick that Colin used to score one of two goals in his rec league game.

The starting bid remains at $2.49 as does the $3 shipping fee. Remember, we're not doing this to make money for ourselves. We're even donating the shipping fees. All proceeds from these auctions will be donated to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

As always, we appreciate your support.

Click here to check out the current auction

Hockey snapshot No. 1

It's just a moment within a rec league game, but this photo, taken by The Missus last Saturday during Colin's Pinellas P.A.L. Stars game, has become one of my favorites. Why? Because it shows Colin doing what he does best, getting ready to swoop in on an unsuspecting opponent, gain body position and take away the puck.

All along, we've said we were raising a complete hockey player, not just some one-dimensional goal scorer. Granted, I'd like it, and so would he, if he scored a little more in his travel-hockey games. But, it's doing the little things like this that tell me he's headed down the right path.

Where will it take him? Who knows? I'm just along for the ride, no matter how long or how far it lasts.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Hockey Life: Taking the next step

It all started a couple of months ago with reading a story in the newspaper. The Event Development Institute, a group in Tampa that helps people and organizations transform ideas into realities, was accepting applications for events. Why not, I figured, submit my idea. So, I did, offering a bare-bones description in the online form.

Since then, mostly during my walks, the idea or, more accurately, the concept formulated in my mind. It was more than planning. Sponsorships, logistics, marketing and execution are all a part of the plan. And, yes, I figured it would a long shot. Who was I, some guy working out of a small desk tucked into the corner of a toy room/office, to think it was even worthy of consideration.

Well, guess what?

It seems the idea passed its first test. Last Tuesday, an email arrived sharing the news. I'll be meeting with the institute's advisory committee within the next two weeks to further discuss the concept. By no means does the meeting signify a green light, but it's a step in the right direction.

So, what's the idea? Let me give you three guesses, and the first two don't count.

My pitch is to bring an international level hockey tournament to the Tampa Bay area. Not just one that draws teams from Florida and, maybe, the Southeast. No, the idea is to draw teams from throughout the United States, Canada and, with a little bit of luck, from Europe and Scandinavia. If you're going to dream, you might as well dream big, right?

Think Quebec's pee wee tournament and national gatherings sponsored by big-name hockey gear companies. Rather than appealing to just local teams, the idea is to bring some of the best youth hockey teams from all over the world to the warm, sunny locale during the late fall to winter months. I'm thinking a week or weekend away from knee-deep snow and teeth-chattering cold holds great appeal.

This wouldn't be the run-of-the-mill local tournament, where teams show up, play a minimum of four games and, if the kids are lucky, get a bag tag for their efforts. The idea is to have seminars for league officials, organizations and coaches. Holding clinics or product demonstration sessions for players are a part of the plan, too. And, if the schedules mesh, toss in a Tampa Bay Lightning home game.

In a way, the tournament would be a festival for youth hockey here in Hockey Bay. It would tell the world that our sport of speed is, indeed, played well below the Florida-Georgia line. Hopefully, it would bring people, from as far away as Russia or Sweden, to Tampa Bay's sandy shores. So, yes, there's the aspect that it would continue to build region's brand as a top-shelf tourism destination.

The tournament would also provide solid measuring sticks, so to speak, for local youth hockey organizations and the hundreds of players who hit the local rinks. They'd get an idea of just how far they've come or, perhaps more likely, how much more work they need to do. To me, teaching moments would be plentiful.

Pulling this off would be a monumental task. It's going to take a lot of hard work by myself and many others. The next two weeks will be all about making the necessary contacts and gaining valuable advice. I have to reach out to, and hopefully hear from, associations, companies and people at the national, state and local levels. The better prepared I am going into that meeting, the better chance the idea had of gaining critical support.

It's time, then, for me to get to work.

P.S.:  Here's another shameless plug asking you to help support Colin's fundraising efforts for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. For as little as $5.49, shipping included, you can do your part to help him do his part. As always, we appreciate your support.