Tuesday, December 27, 2011


Today is the third day of Christmas. We went to a hockey tournament to see one of my niece's son's hockey team play, the Hamilton Bulldog novice team. Since we do not normally follow novice hockey, at least not since my own son played hockey some 20 years ago, we were not exactly sure were the arena was. My niece told us that it was on Appleby and Mainway in Burlington. Well, we knew where Appleby Line is and we know where Mainway street is so we thought that we knew where the arena was. We left the house just after 8:00AM thinking that we had plenty of time to get to the game. we arrived at Appleby Ice Center around 8:30AM just as all the novice hockey players were arriving with their parents so we thought that we were right on time. When we walked into the arena we did not realize that there were actually three hockey pads in the ice center. We did not know which pad they were playing on so we went from pad to pad looking for the Hamilton Bulldogs. After about 20 minutes of fruitless searching we asked one of the fathers who was sitting outside one of the pads if he knew where the Bulldogs were playing. To our amazement he wiped out his ipad and called up the entire junior hockey schedule for all of southern Ontario, and possibly beyond. within a minute or so he told us that we were in the wrong arena, the Bulldogs were playing in Mainway Recreation Center which was just a few blocks away on Mainway west of Appleby..

I have to admit that by this point I was getting a little frustrated, mainly because I did not have the information that I thought I needed to resolve the problem. So, back in our car we got and drove to Mainway Reacreation Center. It didn't take us long to find the game where the Hamilton Bulldog novice team was playing. We had arrived just as the third period had started. It was not going well for the Bulldogs. The visiting team, The Little Caesars from Detroit were leading 2 to 1 in the third period. We did get to see our niece's son play for the first part of the third period but then he was taken off when the coach put on the second string of players to try and even out the odds. That strategy did not seem to work so well.

In the last three minutes of the game it seemed that a little desperation set in and the coach pulled the goalie so that they could put one more player out on the ice. It had the wrong result, the Little Caesars scored again. The final score was 3 to 1 for the Little Caesars from Detroit. Well, there is always one team that has to win and one team that has to lose. Today, it was the Hamilton bulldogs novice team's turn to lose. Still, it was interesting and a gift of sorts. Hockey is such an integral part of the Canadian psyche that I could not imagine Christmas without hockey.

When I was a teenager and spending many of my Christmas holidays in Quebec I attended many a day long hockey tournament where we would watch team after team after team play hockey for an entire day. It is something that tends to settle somewhere just below your psychic makeup. I also recall the endless cold winter mornings that we had to endure while my son would practice hockey at 6:30AM on a Saturday and Sunday morning during hockey season. They were bone chilling experiences at the time but know they seem to be warm memories. Amazing, isn't it, how memories mellow and soften over time.

So, I can say that on the third day of Christmas we were given the gift of hockey, in three periods, at the three pads of Appleby Arena and unfortunately for the score of 3 to 1.

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