Tomorrow, I will make a life long dream come true. I will be suiting up under my lucky No. 7 to play my first hockey game on ice as a member of team Magnum of the Ice 604 league. I’ve played a lot of road hockey and rollerblade hockey since I was a kid, but never the real thing. I always wanted to, but hockey is an expensive sport to play, especially when you’re a growing kid. Plus, I don’t think my mother was too keen on her little boy getting smacked around on the ice. But, this desire to play has never diminished, and yet I didn’t find or take the time to scope out a league for a novice skater like myself. Until I ran into Ray at a BBQ this summer. He’s been playing in the Ice 604 league for four years now. He was starting up a new team this fall to play in the beginner’s tier and asked if I wanted to join. All the excuses started running through my head – “too busy”,”the start times… 11:15pm weekdays are way too late”, “I don’t have skates”, “I don’t have gear”, blah, blah, blah. I sound like an idiot. Then I felt a sudden rush with the image of me skating down the ice on a breakaway, faking the goalie to one side and deaking him out to score the winning goal. “I’m in.” We’re all allowed to have fantasies, right?
I can still remember to this day the moment that I was turned on to hockey. It was the spring of 1982, and a Vancouver Canucks team that resembled the Bad News Bears made an improbable run to the Stanley Cup finals on the coattails of my childhood idol, goalie “King” Richard Brodeur. I was always the goalie in our neighborhood road hockey games and I loved emulating the style of King Richard. Now, I enjoy playing forward. This might have more to do with my back getting soar from staying in the crouched position while playing in net that reminds me all too well that I’m getting older.
Last week, I felt like a fat kid on a Smartie. I hopped on over to Sports Exchange on Burrard, walked in and said to the first guy working there, “Hi, I need everything.” They were great – highly recommend – pointed me in the direction of decent gear but at good prices. I was able to get my helmet and cage, one-piece composite stick, shoulder/chest pads, elbow pads, hockey pants, jock, knee/shin pads, hockey bag, and practice jersey for just under $500. I then went over to Cyclone Taylors on Oak Street to get fitted for quality skates – they bake them to mold to your foot. Cost $200. Now I’m set and anxious to get on the ice. The games are at Burnaby 8 Rinks and run through until March. Referees, stats, playoffs, trophies, suspensions are all included. Can’t wait.
P.S. A special “thank you” to my friend Victor for designing our team logo with such short notice!