I remember those old hockey days like it was yesterday. The clock would strike 7 a.m. on a Saturday morning and my dad would be up and ready to get me in the car to make the 8 a.m. game.
I was six years old and I was about the size of a hobbit. My equipment was entirely hand-me-downs and by the end of my first professional season of hockey I did not have a single point on the stats sheet. By professional, I mean house league.
That first year I was determined to get a goal. One time I was so eager that after my dad laced up my skates I went right on the ice only to realize my skate guards were still on. I fell like Phil Esposito in the 1972 Summit Series; minus the skill.
I could never get a goal in that first year. I tried to be creative. When all of the other kids would be chasing the puck, I would park myself in front of the opposing net and wait for the puck to come to me. That is how I learned about offside. My coach did not know what to do with me. I became a benchwarmer.
In my sophomore year of house league I was even more determined to get the puck in the net. But, still there were no positive results. The first quarter of the season was over and I was scoring fewer goals than a player with a broken hockey stick.
My coach put me on defense; that did not work out. My coach put me on wing; that did not work out. My coach put me at center; I tripped over my stick as I tried to win the faceoff.
Then, something happened. It was November 23, 1991 and as per usual I was playing Saturday morning hockey. My father must have taped my stick with some special kind of tape, because I was receiving the puck.
I scored two goals and my team tallied a victory. I should also mention it was my father’s birthday and he happened to be filming the game on VHS. His cheers for my goals are still heard in my head; he sounded happier than a lottery winner.
With Father’s Day around the corner this special moment is only one in a million, but it is a story I can talk about with my old man that I know will always put a smile on his face.