Every person at the rink realized what was going on except for me, My Lovely Wife, and Senior Awesome.
Our 10-year-old sons were understandably excited about being invited to practice Monday evening with Senior Awesome's traveling hockey team. The German wants to be a goalie, you see, and the Italian is best set loose on offense. This really isn't surprising. It is in the German's nature to observe and react, whereas the Italian prefers to throw himself into the fray and follow wherever the puck may lead him.
My Lovely Wife and I greatly appreciated the willingness of the coaches to allow our boys to interfere with their practice. Anyone with kids these days knows how precious time can be, so for them to dedicate time to teaching our boys basic technique and skills was a generous offer. Knowing almost nothing about hockey -- be fair, less than nothing -- all we understood was when the coach gave the word our boys were to exit the rink and let the teenagers get to work.
The team warmed up, taking shots on their goalies while our boys messed around at the other end of the rink. When they finally were called over, our boys devoured the instruction offered by several team members. The German learned how to brace his hip against the post and position himself in anticipation of an attack on goal. The Italian received pointers on how to handle his stick and control the puck. We proudly watched our fast learners from the cold metal bleachers.
As anticipated, our boys were ushered out of the way so the teenagers could split into teams for a quick scrimmage. They glided gracefully up and down the rink, knocking each other into the boards, passing the puck like pros, and mercilessly slapping the puck at top speeds toward the goals.
Then the unthinkable happened. The coaches called for our boys to join the big kids out on the rink to take part in their scrimmage. While My Lovely Wife started in with her standard hockey-mom panic cheer -- "Oh, man. Oh, man. Oh, man" -- I put on a brave face and acted like it was a wonderful thing the coaches were doing. Of course, the over-protective father inside my head was ranting like a lunatic.
At two thirds the height and weight of most of the players on Senior Awesome's team, the German and the Italian looked like easy pickings. But our fears were unfounded. The German joined goalie Katie in goal. As play brought the puck near them, Katie told the German how and where to stand while the rest of the team, in full understanding of the newbies in their midst, seemed to magically dial the action down to slow motion. For the Italian, the players graciously backed off the puck as the coaches hollered for him to chase it down and bring it to the goal.
The only glitch came late in the scrimmage when one of the players, in his enthusiasm to score, apparently forgot about the little kids on the rink. My Lovely Wife and I saw the play but didn't really give it much thought. It wasn't until we heard the coaches calling out to Senior Awesome that we realized there might be cause for concern.
"Look who's in the goal! Look who's in the goal!" the coaches yelled. Senior Awesome took his shot. Fortunately, Katie bumped the German out of the way and pulled off a magnificent save.
The best part of the entire experience was watching how deeply red Senior Awesome's face became when the coaches and several of his teammates ribbed him for forgetting his girlfriend's little brother was goalie. As one of the players joked: "You almost took out your future brother-in-law!"
Who knows? Maybe sometime in the not-too-distant future, he might actually intend for the puck to hit its mark...
© 2012 Mark Feggeler