Like many young Canadians with over active imaginations and a hockey stick, I was a clutch performer. Whenever my team needed me I was there with a burst of speed and a quick shot that always beat the goalie on the low-left side. I led a plethora of imaginary hockey teams to the Stanley Cup.
There’s no doubt that my imagination was as creative as Wayne Gretzky’s playmaking. Unfortunately, my all-star skills didn’t quite translate to the ice. In reality, when I suited up for the Chipman Crusaders, I was a below average skater, who had an uncanny ability to score goals by enthusiastically crashing the crease.
In reality, the closest I ever came to scoring a big goal, was bursting down the wing and breaking a goalie’s shut out, while our team went on to suffer a 10 to 1 loss. We had a tough time competing. There was never a shot at glory, until the wonderful night of March 26th, 1993.
It was the Pee Wee provincials, and we were hosting the tournament. There’s no way we could have qualified on our own, but I was convinced we had a real shot.
We played the first game in front of a packed house. The mayor dropped the puck, a local celebrity sang O Canada and they even played music during the warm-up. It held all the pomp and circumstance of an NHL game. Or at least that’s how it seemed to a bunch of 13 year olds.
The crowd was passionate; there were even a few enthusiastic rounds of “Go Chipman Go!” which totally threw off our opponents from Cap Pele. After the initial shock of the crowd, Cap Pele controled the game, but thanks to the stellar play of our goalie, we were still deadlocked at zero. Just when it looked like we were running out of steam, a defenseman mishandled the puck. Sensing a chance to make my dreams come true, I pounced at the loose puck, when I looked up, I was on a breakaway.
It was the chance I’d been waiting for my entire life, but as I crossed the blue line I panicked. I rifled the puck and hoped for the best. It whizzed by the goalie’s ear, and ricocheted off the glass. I was devastated, but there was no time to sulk.
The play continued back up to our end. I was determined to rectify the missed opportunity. Fate was on my side. As I burst back up ice, the puck once again found its way to my stick.
How often are you able to make up for a lost opportunity, only seconds after blowing your first? I was on another break away. This time I’d do it right.
When I crossed the blue line, I decided to shoot the puck on the low left side, just like in my dreams. I cocked my stick and fired the puck. It drifted to the left, but it careened wide and bounced around the boards and back to the neutral zone. An opponent regained possession and a few seconds later we were down 1-0.
We went on to lose the game 7-1. We lost all our games that weekend, but it was really no big deal. It was a beautiful weekend. On Sunday, instead of watching the finals, I played road hockey with my friends. As our two make shift teams battled, I caused a turn over and quickly ran down the asphalt. In reality, I flipped a tennis ball over my buddy’s ankle, but in my imagination, I scored the winning goal of the Stanley Cup final.