If you played minor hockey growing up, you probably experienced all or most of these things.
So, let’s take a trip down memory lane, back to the glory days when minor hockey was your life. Have a different rendition of something that appears on this list, or want to add something you think back fondly to? Let us know in the comments.
6:00 am practices
The bane of every young player’s existence. Did anyone look forward to these early-morning practices? The best part about them is that mom or dad might take you out for breakfast after, but having to get up before the sun in the middle of winter is Canadian hell for a young kid. The car’s cold, the sharp air gave you a sudden, unwelcome jolt when you went outside – and the arena was always extra-cold. Especially if your rink had holes in the ceiling, such as ours did.
Break at least one stick learning how to take a proper slap shot
At a certain age, you just have to start taking slap shots. Call it boys wanting to become men. The thing is – every one of us does it wrong at first because you just want to lift the dang thing off the ice. So, rather than snap your wrists, you end up slicing at the puck and breaking a stick. At least one – probably more.
Mini-sticks at tournaments
Whenever you went to a tournament, whether it was at home or on the road, you had to bring your mini-stick with you. Tournaments would break out, which would probably take more out of you than the real games. And if you made it to the consolation or championship games on the ice, mini sticks had already sapped your energy.
Helmets and gloves
Now, I’m not sure how prevalent this was, or still is, but as you get into the senior levels of minor hockey, machismo take over. After nearly every one of our practices from bantam hockey on, “Helmets and Gloves” challenges would be laid down around the room. If your name was called, back on went your helmet and gloves, and you went to the middle of the room with a team-chosen foe to slug it out with until someone fell or gave up. And if you got too close to the coat hangers, your teammates were there to stop you – because that’s just dangerous. And there’s always one guy who is the first to yell out other names – but he never nominates himself.
OK, who didn’t ever have one of these? Rather than waste sock tape after every game or practice, you made it into a ball and added to it each time. By the end of a season – or after a few seasons – the ball got huge and probably weighed more than any piece of equipment in your bag. I had one of those tape balls. What ever happened to it?
You’re in a car pool with some of your buddies going to a road game an hour or two away and you’re bored. What do you do? Play padiddle of course! Each time you saw a car with one headlight, you yelled “padiddle” and the first one to do so got to punch everyone else. But the game was so much more than that – it turned into a fight, as you tried to cover someone else’s eyes so they couldn’t see the cars.
Getting dressed in the car/coming half-dressed
Whether you were late, lived close to the arena, or whatever, there comes a time in every minor hockey player’s career when you need to be half-dressed by the time you arrive at the rink.
Talks with your dad on the car ride home
These are some of those moments you cherish and look back on fondly years later. Whether your dad was giving you pointers on the game, getting upset at you for getting into a fight or doing something else stupid, or just talking about life lessons and growing up, the long road trips or short drives to local games always provided one-on-one time with dad that you’ll never forget.
Wear your hockey gear for Halloween
Probably the most popular – and stinkiest – Halloween costume for kids across Canada. It’s just so easy to put on some of your hockey gear and go as a player. Everybody did it at some point – and every kid today probably still does it.
Taking the snow off your skates and throwing it at teammates after practice
Another post-practice and -game pastime. Why waste a good chunk of cold, melting snow by letting it drop to the ground when you can chuck it at your buddy next to you? After all, you don’t want a puddle at your feet as you’re changing. You had to prepare for retaliation, unless you got really good at throwing it across the room, and pretending that it wasn’t you.
Trying to play goal for a game or a couple games – and realizing you stink
Usually in tyke or novice everyone who wants to is given a chance to play in net. Most of the time you get sick of it real quick when you realize it’s not as easy as it looks and the pads are too darned heavy. I remember I tried playing in net once in novice house league because goalies didn’t have to do all the skating drills in practice. But a few big-time losses and a puck-between-the-legs-goal from the other end of the ice later, I was sick of the stupid position.
Girls: getting dressed in a small storage room because there weren’t enough change rooms
If you were a girl playing with the boys in minor hockey, you no doubt experienced this one. I don’t know what that was like, but it was always a small, forgotten room you got stuck in. Why were there never any decent change rooms available?
Having your toes freeze up, then burn as you warm them up
This probably happened at one of those damn 6:00 am practices. Anyone who’s ever played hockey in a cold climate knows what it feels like to have your toes freeze up and go numb. The weirdest thing about it is that, as you warm them up with your hands, by wiggling them, or by placing them against the heater, it actually hurts way more as the feeling returns.
Hot chocolate after playing outdoors
For my age group, this applies more for weekend shinny with your friends, but for the older crowd that played most of its minor hockey on outdoor rinks, hot chocolate was a more regular occurrence. Playing outdoor hockey? You get hot chocolate. If someone ever writes out everything that’s included in hockey’s “Code” this should be on Page 1.
Toque under helmet (older crowd)
Again for the older crowd who played minor hockey outside, the helmet is not a good enough insulator for those cold days. The trick was getting one big enough to keep you warm, but small enough to fit under your gear.
Pea inside whistle freezing as referee
And, finally, something for those of you former and current minor hockey players who crossed over to refereeing. You know the rink you’re reffing in is cold when you can’t even blow your whistle because the pea inside of it froze up. You panic and try to signal to your partner that play was 10-feet offside, and pray the team doesn’t score in the meantime.