It’s Friday night at 7:30, and all across this great country, from Vancouver Island to New Brunswick, people have donned their mittens and dug their blankets out of the trunks of their cars. They’ve stopped at their local Tim Horton’s Coffee Shop for the mandatory “Double Double” (2 cream, 2 sugar), and have made their way to their local arenas and community rinks.
It’s Hockey Night In Canada! Not NHL hockey, but community hockey. Boys and girls of all ages have laced up their skates, adjusted their helmets, and are waiting for that first push on to the ice. Last minute advice is given from the coaches, and the players are making final adjustments to their jerseys, which proudly display their number and name.
Parents and onlookers are settled on the hard, wooden bleachers. They’ve wrapped their legs in blankets, wrapped their hands around their coffee, and are waiting with bated breath for the excitement of the game to begin. Hearts start pounding as the first whistle blows, and the players come out of the dressing rooms and on to the ice.
As the first puck drops at face off, the crowd begins to chant and cheer. Over to the right of me, there is one voice that is louder than all the others. This obviously proud mama yells encouragement to her son and his teammates for the entire 20 minute period. “Hustle!” “Pass the puck!” “Good try, boys!” “Go Raiders!” The only break we get from the sound of her voice is when the 1st period ends and the players skate off the ice for a short break while the Zamboni clears the ice. I assume she goes to the restroom and gargles with salt water.
It’s the start of the 2nd period. The teams come back and take their places, some on the bench, others on the ice. The crowd is fairly subdued until the adrenaline starts pulsing, a few words are exchanged, and the first fight breaks out. Punches are thrown and skaters are escorted into the penalty box. It’s ten minutes into the 2nd period when there’s an all-out brawl involving everyone except the goalie on the other side of the rink. The referees are trying to control the chaos on the ice. The spectators have all become more vocal, yelling and chanting, and that one single voice in the crowd has now become a roar with the addition of many.
Now there’s four guys in the penalty box (all from one team!) and the energy of the crowd is feeding the energy of the players. More chances are being taken, more passes are being made, all in the hopes of making that winning goal! That one goal that puts their team in the #1 position.
It’s the end of the 3rd period. The winning goal has been scored. The coffee has been drunk and the spectators are making their way back out to their frozen cars. Some with the taste of victory on their tongues, and others, with the heaviness of defeat.
Now that, my friends, is Hockey Night In Canada! It’s not for cream puffs, let me tell you!
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