One more day. One last time. My final hockey game as a goaltender was when our team, the Don Mills Flyers, were playing the North York Rangers. It was a semifinal match for the King Clancy Tournament, the consolation tournament for the GTHL. As I enter the arena, I know, this could be my last hockey game ever. When I think of this, I feel a smirk coming on my face. No more hockey. Finally. If we lose this game.
As I enter the dressing room, at Herbert Carnegie Arena, I am greeted by the usual people, my coaches, Greg, Ryan, and Brad although I’ve never called them once ‘Coach’. I go over to say hello to my friends on the team as well. As I talk to them, I begin to realize that if I lose ...view middle of the document...
Five seconds earlier, it was peaceful and quiet. It was so quiet that you could hear a pin drop. Now, with my crazy team in the room, they wouldn’t even shut up if you blew an air horn.
I finish putting on my pads as fast as a cheetah can run. I rush out of the dressing room with my orange reaction ball to get some quiet time. There is nobody outside the dressing room. Just me and the wall. This could be my last game, yet I still feel the need to warm up my reactions. I don’t even know if I’m playing but I still warm up. I go down in my butterfly position and begin throwing and catching with opposite hands.
I finish my reaction warm up, re-enter the room, and my ears begin to bleed. Screaming, shouting, laughing, and most annoyingly of all, the music. The room is a giant cage of laughing hyenas, dancing and singing to loud music. Why do my coaches put such terrible music on? It’s just hard rock where the songs have no meaning at all. Apparently, it’s supposed to pump us up, and get our team ‘in the zone’, wherever the zone actually is. In fact, this music makes our team think less about hockey, which is the most important part of playing well in a game.
As I continue to put on my equipment, I ask Greg who’s starting.
“Greg, am I in net?” I ask.
“Don’t worry Chang-er, prepare like if you’re going to play,” he responds. I still don’t understand. Why prepare like you’re going to play only to find out that you’re not starting the game five minutes before it actually starts? Then what’s the point of eating pasta before a game? What’s the point of skipping rope one hour before puck drop?
Five minutes before we step out onto the ice, Greg, Ryan, and Brad call everybody into the room. Greg tells us we have to play hard, with intensity, and all of this other jibber jabber. It doesn’t matter to me if I listen or not because if I stop the puck, Greg will be happy. The only thing that matters to me is who’s starting.
I ask Greg again, “Greg am I starting?”
“No, Boots is going to be in net,” he responds. All that warming up for nothing. Two minutes before puck drop, Greg shows us a quick video on his device. During the video, Ryan takes a peek out of the room to see if we can go out and play. He comes back in nodding his head at Greg. It’s time. One last battle.
I step out onto the ice relaxed because I don’t have to play. I don’t have pressure on me. It’s all on Boots....