As I approach my 16th Wedding Anniversary the end of this week, I find myself reflecting on the things that my husband and I enjoy together: our pets, delicious meals and wine, our entwined careers, and hockey. Yes, hockey. I know that may sound odd coming from a woman, but it is most definitely a factor in our married life.
As a little girl in small town Ontario, I was a figure skater. What else are you going to do all winter? We lived right across the street from the Coliseum; I skated Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays after school from the time I was seven years old. I loved the smell of the rink. I loved getting a hot chocolate from the concession. I loved skating with my neighbourhood friends. I loved getting on the ice right after it had been flooded, skating warm up laps, as fast as I could on fresh ice.
When I was in my 20s, just starting on my career, I shared a house on Woburn Avenue in Toronto. Roomies came and went, as they got married and moved out, but one thing was for sure. Saturday night hockey in our living room. We would only go to the pub after the game was over. I was a Leaf fan then, as were most of my companions… and it wasn’t easy, especially with one roommate who was a Canadiens fan, at a time when Montreal couldn’t lose and Toronto couldn’t win.
I met my husband Ernie in London Ontario in 1994. One of our first dates was a road trip to Maple Leaf Gardens to see the Leafs. I remember it clearly. They were playing St. Louis and in goal was Curtis Joseph. Nothing could get past him, even though the Leafs had many opportunities. Joseph has been my favourite goalie ever since.
I guess I was a typical girl-fan; I got excited when my team scored but I was a little fuzzy on the rules, especially penalties. Most of the time I didn’t see them or didn’t know what the crime was. (I still have trouble with “off side”.) Ernie very patiently shed some light on the subject for me. Since he had been a referee in the C.A.H.A. for about 12 years, he was my authority on the rules of the game.
When we moved to Vancouver, and the NHL was too dear to attend in person, we became regular Major Junior fans. We had season’s tickets for the Vancouver Giants. They played at the smaller, more intimate Pacific Coliseum (leaving the big rink for the big guys). I loved going Friday nights, after a tough week at work, going early to dine at the Buffet with prime rib, lasagna and Nanaimo bars (there’s that delicious meals thing again!). I still wear my Giants apparel. When we moved to St. John’s, we continued our hockey life and became Fog Devils ticket holders too. We could walk to the arena from our house in The Battery for our own Hockey Night in Canada.
Team Canada is probably our favourite. The World Juniors Tournament takes place every year right after Christmas. I mean immediately after Christmas. Depending on where the games are, and what time zone it is, Ernie will set the alarm for 4am, if necessary, to watch Canada in their first game on Boxing Day. Now, of course, we can set the pvr, but he insists it’s not the same. You have to be in the moment. If you are looking for us during Christmas and New Years, we are on the edge of our seats in front of the television. We will return your phone calls after the game.
Now we are in Powell River, and we are in luck. Powell River has a hockey team. The Powell River Kings are a Junior A team, so one notch under the Vancouver Giants league. We went to the game on Friday night, at the Hap Parker arena. It reminds me of the Coliseum of my childhood. It’s got that good rink smell. The Kings were playing Kelowna. There was a small (700+) but enthusiastic crowd. The teams were fairly well matched. It was an exciting game! The Kings tied it in the 3rd period with only 25 seconds left, and then won it in overtime with a fabulous goal. Just like on TV.
Junior Hockey is fun to watch. The players are young and eager, trying to get to the next level… maybe even the big times. They work hard to show the coaching staff they are worthy of the ice time. Yes, they’re young and they make mistakes, take penalties they shouldn’t. But that game Friday night was sheer entertainment, Canadian hockey as it should be.
Oh, I should also tell you that Ernie is playing hockey again, after many years off-ice. He is mixing it up with the Shinny 50+ crowd at the Complex.
And, while we watch the fast-paced hockey games, he still patiently informs me of the penalties I didn’t see that happened right in front of me, even after 16 years of telling me. Happy Anniversary.
Geez Jules hockey isn’t my thing but the way you write you make me almost want to go see a game….