Monday, 9 April 2018

A to Z Challenge - H is for Hockey

Ice hockey is a big deal in my homeland. Every town, big and small has at least one hockey rink and scores of recreational and competitive teams. Larger towns and cities support amateur leagues, the scouting grounds for the professional NHL.

There are many hockey dreams...

Once upon a time, there was a little girl who loved to play hockey. She dreamt about stick handling her way down the right wing, closing in on the net, then a quick wrist snap puts the puck in the top left corner It's all one fluid movement and she nails it every time. That's the way it is with dreams.

Reality told a different story. It was the 1960's, the time before helmets and face shields. Little girls were not supposed to like hockey let alone play. More than that, girls were not allowed to play hockey. And no wonder - girls skates, those bright white figure skates with the sharp picks at the front, were not made for hockey.

The little girl struggled in too narrow skates, hand-me-downs from a sister who skated perfectly through turns and twists, forward and backward. Though she tried and tried again, the little girl never mastered the task, defeated by those blasted picks that dug into the ice and sent her down too hard, too often. The laughter and taunts from the sidelines didn't help.

The best Christmas ever delivered an official hockey sweater of the Chicago Blackhawks, CCM gloves, and a Titan hockey stick. The dream lived on. Her father, cutting up the ice in speed and wide turns, encouraged the dream. The mother tolerated the dream, taking all this hockey stuff in her stride for the most part, but she drew the line when the father suggested buying boys' tube skates. It was a bridge too far for the mother of the not so girly daughter.

No matter, out on the winter street, hard packed with snow, the neighbourhood boys always needed an extra player and the little girl was always dressed and ready to go in the sweater, gloves, stick, and boots. Living the dream.

The years passed and the girl grew and the boys grew and soon wanted nothing to do with the hockey girl who couldn't skate. She settled for Hockey Night in Canada to satisfy her desire, but mostly the dream fell asleep, and thirty years slipped by...

1998 - The Women broke onto the ice hockey scene at the Olympics in Nagano, Japan.  A little girl's dream tucked into a grown woman, stirred and stretched. Oh to have been born in the 70's instead of the 50's.

It's 2018 and though I have no stick, no gloves, and still no skates, I've got my Team Canada hockey jersey and hat on this day in tribute to the Humboldt Broncos Junior "A" Hockey Club, their families and friends.

Canadians are in mourning. Fifteen members of the Humboldt Broncos Jr. "A" Hockey club were killed in a traffic accident Friday night. The Saskatchewan team were on their way to a playoff game. The cause of the crash is still under investigation.

So much shock and disbelief; 
so many questions without answers; 
so many broken dreams and broken hearts... 

Our Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau offered these words on behalf of all Canadians:
“We are heartbroken knowing many of those we lost had their entire lives in front of them. We grieve with those facing news no parent or family should ever have to face. And our hearts go out to the community that has lost teammates, coaches, friends, and mentors. 
“This is every parent’s worst nightmare. No one should ever have to see their child leave to play the sport they love and never come back. 
“Our national hockey family is a close one, with roots in almost every town – small and big – across Canada. Humboldt is no exception, and today the country and the entire hockey community stands with you. 
“I thank the first responders – the RCMP, the Provincial Response Team, and medical personnel – who worked tirelessly through the night, and continue to respond to this incredibly difficult situation with courage and professionalism. 
“To the entire Humboldt community: We are here for you. As neighbours, as friends, and as Canadians, we grieve alongside you.”

Amen to that.

©2018 April Hoeller


  1. Your story is so good today that I just wanted to keep reading. My heart breaks for the families of those who were killed . . . and my heart breaks a little for your dream that never materialized.

    1. Thank you so much Lisa. Not all dreams are meant to be be realized. Many are there just to keep us reaching forward, trying new ways, new things.