Hockey Challenges 2019

First hockey tournament win
goalie bantam
The-Youngest readies himself for a Canuck-like season

I thought last year would be, you know, the last year of hockey. However, The-Youngest decided to play another year. As goalie. In the Bantam league.

At this point in boys’ hockey, the field is narrowing.

More and more boys drop out because of the demands of school, other extracurricular activities, and the biggest killer of having time to play hockey, girls.

Luckily, none of those things apply to The-Youngest. Yet.

Now, had we agreed to drive The-Youngest up to a mountain every weekend and twice on the weekdays, he may have declined hockey, since his real love is mountain biking and skiing.

But apart from the driving time, the cost of gas and ski passes and rental gear, despite the cold and the lift rides and all the falling, the simple fact is we’d have to do it with him and since I haven’t skied in 30 years and would likely break something (other than my ego).

I mean, if I had to get on the ice with The-Youngest and skate for 8 hours, we wouldn’t likely sign him up for hockey either. Add in a 90 min to drive there and another 90 to drive back, and, yeah, I can guarantee we wouldn’t be doing hockey.

But after last year, after an amazing hockey year, the-Youngest thought, why not?

So, we bought new gear since he’d done the silly thing of growing over the spring and summer, we signed him up for goalie camp (which was delightfully free!!!! Since they wanted to encourage young goalies), and we prepared for the duties of goalie parents.

Oh, sure there’d be early morning practices. Honestly, I never minded them at all.

Oh sure, we’d have to fork over money for tournaments and gifts for the coaches and bribes for the refs, (wait, no, sorry, no bribes, nope I never said that.)

Oh sure, we’d have to do something terrifying like scorekeeping or socializing (that latter very hard on an old introvert like me who knows nothing about how the Canucks are doing – though if I go with the old, they suck, I’m pretty safe).

It’s easy winning all the time. And fun. But what if that’s not how a season goes.

But it would all be worthwhile if The-Youngest has fun. Because, by having fun he would not only, you know, have fun, but continue to learn about teamwork, about sportsmanship and about trying your hardest. And with a good coaching team, he’d learn about being a good man as well.

This year, though, he will have another value tested.


Last year, they were tournament champions twice and came second in the Langley Cup (beaten by a better team).

This year?

Well, 10-2 loss in the first game, and an 8-1 loss in the second.

On the plus side, unlike last year when I asked, how’d you do? and he said, “I got bored sometimes. I only had to stop 2 or 3 shots,” this year, he’s looking at 30+ shots each game, multiple rebounds he’s going to have to stop, and snipers who can rocket a shot over his shoulder when he’s in the butterfly position.

Now, being a writer, and a teller of stories, these are starts from which great legends are born. The underdog team, struggling at the beginning, somehow manages to come together and win the final game, learning about life, values and the importance of having a hidden superstar on the team like in Bad News Bears.

We’ll see what happens.

It’ll be …. Interesting. Stay tuned.

10 More Reasons Minor Hockey is Better Than the NHL

10 More Reasons Minor Hockey is better than the NHL

IMG_26101) In the NHL, the goalie’s go-to move is the butterfly. It’s effective, efficient and so very boring. In minor hockey the go-to move looks like they’re falling on a live grenade or driving off a high-board. It’s used on long shots, short shots, when a player is trying to deek them out, and even when they think no one is looking and they get bored. Squirrel!

2) I don’t know if I’ve ever seen so many bum saves in the NHL as you do in minor hockey. Sometimes it’s a variation of the downward dog, sometimes it’s just because they haven’t turned around fast enough. I think someone should keep track of the bum saves. It could be an interesting stat. “And little Bobby Johnson stopped 22 shots in the game, four with his ass, three with his face, five while looking the wrong way and ten by leaping on the puck like a cat on a mouse.”

3) When the puck is in the other end of the rink, the goalie will get bored and do something to entertain himself. Can you imagine Luongo (can I still use that name?) lying on his back, staring up at the ceiling? Or practicing butterflies? Or swinging his stick around like a Viking swings an axe? Or singing? Or going all gungun style?

celbration4) When a team scores, watch the celebration moves. In the NHL, they have the moves down pat. In minor hockey, it’s, well, a work in progress. They are as odd as they are entertaining. I swear more injuries occur as they try to high five each other with their heads or ride a stick or spin around or pump their fists in the air.

nuts5) I wonder if the Canucks sit in the dressing room and whack each other in the nuts over and over and over again to see if their jocks work. Would Kesler’s mom have to say, “Stop hitting your friend in the nuts with your stick!” You know what? Probably. And recently, too. However, with young boys, this seems to be the norm. All I can think of is God help the kid who forgets his one day.

6)  In the NHL, you watch the play. You follow the puck. Maybe see how they do the changes. But sometimes watching the little guys (or girls) the fun is seeing how many will fall on a line change. Or how one really doesn’t want to play defence and so twitches on the blueline, waiting for his chance to charge in. Or the one who would really rather be at home and so skates around in circles, off in his own little world.

7) How often do you see the entire team has fallen down? In the NHL, not often. In minor hockey, not only could an entire team be down, but ¾ of them could be in the net.

8) How often does Crosby deek himself out? Maybe he can be a little too clever sometimes, but with the little ones, they are their own worst enemies sometimes. If someone was doing play-by-play, it might sound like this… “It’s a breakaway. 4-0. The goalie falls down. The net is wide open. All ‘X’ has to do is shoot… and ‘X’ steps on the puck.” Or “and he moves left, he moves right, he.. ooops he did one too many moves and fell down.” It’s why the results of a breakaway, (and there are a LOT) are massively unpredictable.

kesler9) You’ll hear this at both games. “Don’t throw the puck in the front of your own net!!!!” However, in minor hockey, you’ll also could hear this immediately afterwards. “Mommy loves you!” Ok, maybe Kesler’s mom still says that.

10)        In minor hockey, after a season, you see an amazing improvement in the player’s skills. In the NHL, it seems like the later in the year, the worse some teams play (*cough Canucks cough*) In minor hockey, it’s such a thrill to see how much better they skate, they pass, play their positions and gel as a team. You ask me, that’s worth every 6am practice.

Team Pic - Grouse 2014And lastly, none of the little kids gets paid a dime for playing. They do it for love of the game, (sometimes the odd small trophy and a bag of skittles,) and they do it for… FUN. You can see the difference.

Why Minor Hockey is Like Way, Way Better Than the NHL

Why Minor Hockey is Like Way, Way Better Than the NHL

canucksI’ve been fortunate to watch a few hockey games, now. One a professional league. One a bunch of little kids with Timbits on the back of their jerseys.

And I have something to tell you.

The little kids are way more entertaining.

And they don’t cost you a year’s salary to see.

Here’s why.

skating1) I’m pretty sure there’s no dancing in the NHL. At least I’ve not seen the players doing it. I think LA has some skating bunnies or something, but whatever. In H1-4, you can see a kid off in his own world, listening to music in his head (or, on a rare occasion, over the PA) and dancing up a storm. I’m not sure he realizes everyone is watching.

2) There are girls. GIRLS! And you know what, they can skate, they can hit and they can shoot.

kids in hockey3) You’ll see the future superstars and they might not be named Lafleur, Tretsiak, Sedin or Orr. They might be named Li, Jawal, Kim, or Rahim. Or even Sheila Matusimshu.

4) In the NHL, the goalie will play without a stick. How boring. In minor hockey, I’ve seen it take 5 min for a goalie to be able to pick up his stick, completely oblivious to the play around him. It’s like he’s blind and lost in a forest looking for a peanut or something.

5) Playing hard actually counts for something in minor hockey.

pee6) No goalie, ever, in the NHL has had to skate off the ice in the middle of the game to go pee. It’s not uncommon in minor hockey and hey, how much greater the tension when your goalie simply skates away clutching his crotch?

7) The fans in minor hockey cheer for every goal and every save and, in most cases, every time their child touches the puck. They cheer really hard when their goalie makes a save, cuz, like watching Luongo these days, it’s pretty rare.

8) Games in minor hockey can be 23-1. I kid you not. No one keeps score of course. No one except the parents, the coach and the kids. However, I think the Canuck lost a game like that, but it’s still cooler with the kids.

9) In the NHL, a 4 on 0 breakaway pretty much guarantees a goal. In minor hockey, not so much. 10% chance of a goal. 40% chance at least one will crash into the other. 10% chance the goalie will skate away from the net in search of his stick or a bathroom. 39% chance the shooter will miss the net. 1% chance they’ll score. So much more interesting, right?

10)        In the NHL, every slapshot pretty much goes off without a hitch. Maybe a broken stick. Maybe someone blocks the shot with their face or crotch. But basically, nothing spectacular. In minor hockey, well, I’ve seen them fall after shooting, leap as they shot, miss and hit the kid beside them in the helmet with their stick, hit the ice so hard the stick flew out of their hands, and, every so often, when the moon is full and mercury is rising, the shot comes off. Again, isn’t that more fun?

hockey with boys

So, if you ever get a chance, sell one of your Canuck’s tickets, buy a new car, then go see a minor hockey game. It’s worth your time.