It was this afternoon at 4:30. I’d been looking forward to it all week: my ice hockey fix. This time, I didn’t have to stand out in the freezing cold to get a ticket either since my good friend Gail, whose son attends our town’s private school, called me early in the week and offered to get me a ticket. Yes!
Today’s public versus private high school varsity ice hockey battle was for our town’s coveted “Town Cup.” Oh yeah. Town has won the cup 13 times, while private has won the cup 4 times. No matter, it’s always a grudge match, at least for the fans in the stands. Most of the players – from both public and private – play on club teams together and have known each other for years. I doubt there’s much “grudge” between them. . .unless someone tells me otherwise. The decibel level from the fans is so loud and prolonged that it drowns out the diesel train that passes not even 25’ away from the arena. I’m not kidding when I tell you that three blocks away you can hear the mayhem and noise of the fans. Three blocks! Take a listen to the music and mayhem by clicking on the video in “My World and Welcome to It” on the right of your screen.
The players were pumped. The fans were pumped. The police presence was strong; I counted at least 7 officers, both schools’ ADs and myriad other personnel, all standing and watching and hoping the fans remained in control of themselves. Cars lined the streets surrounding the arena for many, many blocks; parents love this game too.
The game began and private pressed public. . .hard. The puck stayed mostly at public’s end of the ice. Public’s goalie defended his goal from the smaller, faster private players who kept executing what looked like play after play; private is well coached by a former public high school player and private’s players play with heart. That said, though, public’s #33, Brendan, was a goalie powerhouse, stopping shot after shot by catching them, blocking them with his body, whatever it took. The kid is that good. Private couldn’t get through him, even with its unrelenting first-half press. Whew for the public players.
Tory’s friend Evan, #8, skated like a player possessed throughout the first half. No air under his skates today; he skated low and fast, smushing private players to the ice and into the boards in his single-minded pursuit of the puck. He took three solid, hard shots on goal in the first half that I thought were sure to score, until private’s goalie, a sparkplug of talent, deflected each in turn. I groaned in frustration. The first half ended scoreless, but not for a lack of trying; the goalies for both teams were very good.
The second half started with the roar of the crowd as public, then private took to the ice. Play was fierce and physical. Bodies flew into the boards, players went down hard and (finally) some penalties were called. The puck sped toward one goal, then back toward the other. And then. . .public scored. Senior and co-captain Jay, #19, plowed one past private’s goalie, and the public crowd went wild, chanting his name. It was magic watching that tough-as-nails, no-holds-barred hockey player put one in.
I had to leave before the final buzzer to pick Tory up from work. Gail promised she’s let me know who won. True to her word, she called about 15 minutes later: Public’s one goal was enough. Public won the cup this year. Private fought hard to score, but wasn’t able to put one in this time. Well done, public. Well done.
I looked for Tory’s friend Zack the Canadian in vain today. I didn’t see #20 on the ice at all. Puzzled and disappointed, I didn’t find out until tonight that (1) he’s now #29, and (2) due to unforeseen circumstances, he didn’t play (I’m a little sketchy on the details, but that’s okay.). I missed watching him barrel down the ice. Next time, my friend.