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Saturday, April 23, 2005

Stopping pucks since 1993

When I was a kid in elementary school, I used to play floor hockey with the other children on Friday afternoons. As the chubbiest, slowest moving kid I had all the characteristics of a fine goalie. All the other kids wanted to pass like Linden or score like Bure, but I was content with stopping pucks like Kirk Mclean--no razzle dazzle; just good, honest, standup goaltending. The beauty of being a goalie at that level play is that if you just stand still with your big pads and don't make too many moves, nine times out of ten the ball will just hit you and you get to "make a save". Such was my strategy, and my laziness and lack of desire to move around made me a valuable addition to any team. If floor hockey were my calling, goaltending would have been my destiny.

Last night at Delta, I was given an opportunity to rekindle my neglected love affair with goaltending. For a brief moment, as I was strapping on my big, heavy leg pads, I felt like I was in grade 5 again. All the natural goalie instincts that had been hibernating in my system woke with unparalleled ferocity: eyes on the ball, knees bent, glove up, and stick down. Okay fine, these aren't so much instincts as mere commen sense; but still, I felt a sort of rebirth taking place inside me. Okay fine, there was no rebirth, just a feeling of relief that I didn't have to run around, chasing after a ball all night--must you always burst my bubble?

The game got off to a rough start. Less than 20 seconds into the game, I let one in from what would have been just outside the blue line had we been playing on a real rink. I looked more like Dan Cloutier in game 3 against the Wings in '02 than McLean in '94, but I took a deep breath and regrouped. After a few clutch "saves"--attributable to mere happenstance, rather than genuine skill--I was back in top form. It was a battle the whole night, but in end the good guys came out on top, winning two out of the three games.

Today I noticed that both my legs are really sore. I never felt like that when I was in elementary school. But then again, I didn't sit in front of a monitor 10 hours a day back then either. Progress always has a price.

Your Favorite Jerk


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