Hockey Day in Canada

| 1/23/2013 12:59:29 PM

Tags: hockey, community, aging, Cam Mather,

So, this will be the only time I blather on about playing hockey. Probably. I’ve decided that like a reformed smoker there’s nothing worse than someone who starts playing hockey later in life. I used to listen to Tom Allen who had a show on CBC. He started playing hockey for the first time in his 40’s and he droned on about it incessantly. Tom really, we don’t care, just shut up and play the music.

I last played organized hockey when I was 12, so 40 years ago. I play on my pond every year but that’s not the same. For years I’ve been hearing about the “Happy Hockey” game in our local community. On Tuesday mornings, men and women get together and play hockey at the local arena. I’ve been thinking about joining them, but there was always a book to write, firewood to cut, or some other pressing task that needed to be accomplished, which helped me rationalize not playing.

This year as the winter weather set in I began to think about playing hockey so a few weeks ago Michelle and I went for the free skate that follows Happy Hockey. We got to the arena early so that we could watch Happy Hockey. It looked like a lot of fun and I decided to bite the bullet and give it a whirl. Everyone plays in full equipment but I decided I couldn’t spend more than $50 to outfit myself. So we hit the reuse stores. At a “Bibles for Mission” thrift store in Kingston I found some shoulder pads, elbow pads, shin pads, a wire cage for a helmet and a sweater. Total price was about $15! Then I hit a recycled sports store and got pants, socks, a helmet and gloves that looked like new for a total of $40! It was awesome. If I’d gone to Canadian Tire and bought the cheapest version of each of these items it would have cost me almost 400!  I already had skates and a stick so I was ready to go.

As Michelle and I stood at the sidelines watching the game in progress, I made the observation that the players looked like they were really doggin’ it and seemed to head back to the bench way too often. I thought ‘what the heck, I can play the whole hour!’ I can easily skate for an hour on our pond or at the arena, so how hard could it be to play hockey for an hour?

Well, after that comment feel free to look up the word “hubris” in the dictionary and you will see my picture. Hubris means extreme pride or arrogance. On my first day at Happy Hockey I was on the ice for no more than 1 ½ minutes and I wanted off. I was completely bagged. Apparently there is something to all of this stopping and starting. I fell down a lot too. My excuse was that I haven’t sharpened my skates in years. When I suggested that I would get them sharpened in time for next week I was reminded by the other players that I’d lose that excuse for falling so often.

Here’s another thing that has changed from hockey playing in my youth.  I learned that when you are playing hockey with 50 and 60-year-olds, if you go down and don’t get up quickly enough, play stops and they bring out the stretcher and defibrillator, just in case. This takes all the fun out of falling because you have to get right back up as quickly as possible.

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