The Maplewood Cougars walked very slowly back to their dressing room. Many of the players could barely hold up their heads. When they arrived in their dressing room, the players sat down on the benches next to the equipment stalls No one said a word. It was as if the life had been drained right out of them.
After a few minutes of painful silence, Miles Myers entered the Maplewood Cougars’ dressing room. As he had removed his Norberry Knights jersey, his shoulder pads and chest protector were now visible. He looked cautiously around the room and said, “Sorry guys, Coach Keenan told me to play my best, so I did. Rick that last goal was not your fault. It was a real tough one, but you played it right all the way. Brian Williams just made a lucky shot.”
“Thanks Miles. You played great. Don’t apologize. You just did your job the way Coach told you to. I think that tonight was your best game all season. The team can rest assured during the off-season that next year they will have a great starting goalie,” Rick said as he unclasped the buckle on his left leg pad.
Coach Brad Keenan spoke next, “Thank you Rick. I couldn’t agree with you more. Miles was exceptionally good in goal tonight. Now I have a message for all you guys. I’m proud of each and everyone of you. No one expected you to play as well as you did this year. You worked hard and played your hearts out for me. We now know what it feels like to be a winning team. I can guarantee each and every one of you, that by this time next year, we will not only beat the Norberry Knights, we will also make the playoffs. And you can take that to the bank. You guys all gained invaluable experience this year and changed your attitudes from being a losing team to that of being a winning team,” Brian Keenan said. The Maplewood Cougars said in unison, “Thank you coach. You did a great job coaching us this year.” The team had all agreed to say this before the game started.
You could feel the heaviness leave the room and a steam of positivity come in. Their hockey season was over, but the Maplewood Cougars could leave the dressing room with their heads held high. The players were all expecting great things to happen t next season.
Rick felt badly about letting in the last goal of the season, but knew that this was not a bad way of going out. He had been one of the Maplewood Cougars bright lights for three years now and he was leaving knowing that he had done a great job for his team. He was leaving with only one regret, that his team did not win the city championship. When Rick left the dressing room for the final time Misty ran right up to him and jumped into his arms while wrapping her legs around him. This happened so fast that Rick dropped his heavy equipment bag on the ground.
Misty had tears running down her cheeks and just clung to Rick. “I’m so proud of you Rick and I love you so much.”
While still clutched in Misty’s embrace, Rick could see Miles and Linda Saunders walking up to them.
“You guys should get a room,” Miles joked.
Upon hearing this, Misty let go of Rick and turned around to see who was talking to them. “Hey,” she said still wiping the tears from her eyes.
“Now it’s time for me to give you some Kleenex, Misty,” Linda said.
“I just want to thank you Rick for all the help you gave me this season. I really appreciate it,” Miles said.
“You are very welcome Miles. With you as the new starting goalie for next year, I know that I’m leaving the team in good hands.”
The four young people then walked towards the arena parking lot, gave each other a long hug and got into their cars.
Missing Episode 1:
When the buzzer finally rang, signalling the end of the game, Rick was mobbed by his teammates. He looked up toward the stands in time to witness the Maplewood Cougars fans giving him a standing ovation.
One of the fans yelled, “Thank goodness you’re back, Rick. You really dug us out of a deep hole in that one!”
Rick waved back to his fans and shouted back, “Thanks a lot man. I really appreciate it.”
“Way to go Rick. If you keep playing like this, we may have a chance of making the play-offs.”
Rick was almost walking on clouds as he walked the rest of the way to his team’s dressing room. He could feel the pats on his shoulder as he neared the visitors dressing room door.
Miles Myers was the first player to enter the dressing room. He abandoned his usual routine of slowly getting out of his hockey gear and changing into his street clothes.
Tonight Miles was in a hurry to get out of the dressing room and leave the arena as quickly as possible. He hadn’t played a role in tonight’s victory and this game made it obvious that the Cougars were a much better team with Rick Miller in goal. Miles turned to Rick as he was leaving the dressing room, “You’re the man. You played great.”
Since their season started, this was the
first time that the Maplewood Cougars were really excited about their chances. This was an amazing change from the beginning of the season. The present cadre of young players had never experienced what it was like to play for a winning team. During the previous years, they could hardly dream of making the play-offs. They were now in a position to take the last open play-off spot in their division. What they now needed to do was win three of their next games and have Winakwa lose all three of their remaining league games.
Missing Episode 2
The player’s girlfriends were waiting for their boyfriends outside the dressing room. They were all laughing and joking and were in a jubilant mood. All but one girl was celebrating, Linda Saunders, the hockey wives’fearless leader. Linda was crying and shaking in a stall in the women’s washroom. For Linda, this evening had been very humiliating. She wasn’t happy in the least that the Cougars had won tonight’s game. Linda, racking with sobs, felt angry and humiliated. Last year at this time Linda would have heard the other girls telling her how well Miles had played, and that the loss of the game would have been much worse if it hadn’t been for Mile’s ability to make some key saves during the game.
After a few minutes Linda left the stall and tried to pull yourself together. She was washing her face at the sink when Misty Roberts entered the restroom.
Linda took a quick glance to see who had just come in. Misty could see that Linda had been crying.
“What’s the matter Linda? Why aren’t you celebrating with the rest of the girls?” Misty asked.
“Gee, I wonder why!” Linda snapped back. You’re the one with the hero boyfriend.” Her anger brought on another rush of tears.
“And your friends arranged it so that I would have to apologize to you in front of the other girls. How do you think that made me feel? You know, I think I should just dumped Miles and stopped being a team supporter.”
Misty walked slowly towards Linda and pulled some Kleenex out of her purse. “It looks like you need a big hug.”
As Misty opened her arms Linda somewhat reluctantly received her hug.
“It’s going to be all right Linda. Yes, Rick played well tonight, but what would the team have done without Miles while Rick was injured? I think the girls respect you more after your public apology to Rick and me. That took a lot of courage,” Misty said before breaking the embrace. “Thank you for saying that Misty. I badly misjudged you. You are a very forgiving and caring person.
The Cougars hockey team became very unfocused once the reality of their circumstance sunk in. Their star goalie was being taken to the hospital with undetermined injuries. They prayed that Rick Miller’s injuries were not serious, but, at this point in time, they had no way of knowing.
Coach Brad Keenan gathered the rest of his team together at the bench while the players on the ice warmed up Miles Myers. The referee was explaining the penalties to be assessed to both the Cougars and the Knights team captains.
“Look you guys. What just happened on the ice was terrible, but we have to get our focus back. Eric Coswell has received a game misconduct and will be out for the rest of the game. Both teams will be playing a man short for the first five minutes. I’m going to send Joe Savard to the penalty box to serve the five -minute penalty. Guy Gilbert will serve the ten-minute misconduct penalty. Miles is warming up in goal as we speak. I realize that we lost two of our key players for the game, but we are not going to quit playing hard. I expect you guys to give Miles some increased protection by blocking shots wherever possible. You defencemen are really going to need to step up your game to make up for not having Eric Coswell. I am expecting every player on this team to play their A game during the next two periods. This is an opportunity for guys to really show both your courage and your character. I can guarantee that the Norberry Knights think that they are going to walk all over us, but we are not going to let that happen.”
Just as Brad finished his pep talk. The referee signalled for a face off to resume the game.
The Maplewood Cougars were inspired by their coach’s speech, but were more motivated by their collective anger at the Norberry Knights. They were sure that Rick was injured with intent and they wanted to show Norberry that they were not about to be intimidated by the size advantage that the Knights had. They started the second period with every intention of winning the game.
The referee had just dropped the puck for the opening face off when an altercation started on the east side of the stands. A few of Norberry’s fans had crossed over to the Maplewood supporters’ bleachers. Three Cougars fans were returning to their seats after getting a coffee at the concession stands when they were accosted by three thugs from Norberry’s side. One of the brawlers said, “This is payback for Glenn Davidson, you losers.”
Many of The Maplewood Cougars fans turned around to witness three of their own being manhandled by the opposition’s aggressors. Within seconds, several of the Cougars fans jumped in to help the victims of the vicious attack.
When Norberry’s fans saw what was happening in the opposite stands, many of them went around the arena to the Cougar’s side to join in the fray. After a few minutes had passed, approximately twenty people were pushing, shoving, kicking and throwing punches. Blood was starting to spill onto the arena’s floor.
As all this chaos was breaking out in the stands, both the players and the officials on the ice stopped playing the game and looked up into the stands. It was almost unnecessary when the head referee blew his whistle to officially end play. There were only three arena workers on duty. The senior worker said, “This fight in the stands is out of control and there’s no way I want to try to break it up. I’m calling the cops.”
The players that were on the ice both returned to their respective benches. The head referee skated over to both benches to talk to the coaches. He told both coaches that he was officially ending the game and that he would phone the convener to inform him of his decision. The two coaches both asked about the recorded out come of the game. The head referee stated that he didn’t know. The final decision would be up to the convener as to whether tonight’s game would go into the record books or declared, ‘no contest’. Whether or not the game would be replayed at another date he could not say.
Misty, along with Rick’s family followed the ambulance to St. Boniface Hospital. When they arrived at the hospital, Rick had already been taken to an emergency area for examination and treatment. Rick’s family and Misty were asked to find seats in the waiting room. Only about four other people were there before them. A couple of them were watching CNN on the widescreen tv while the other two looked worried and carried on a quiet conversation.
In approximately one hour, the admitting nurse called the family in to talk to the doctor. They shook hands with the young intern who introduced himself.
“Hi, I’m Dr. Olafson. I’ll be Rick’s attending physician this evening. Rick told me that his injuries occurred at the St. Vital arena where he was hammered into the boards by an opposing player.”
“That’s correct,” Rick’s father replied. “Only I wouldn’t refer to the kid who assaulted him as an opposing player. He’s a goon. I have a strong suspicion that he took orders from his coach to try to injure Rick. My son is the Cougars’ star goalie and Norberry knew that they would not win the game with Rick in goal.”
“I’m sorry to hear that,” the young doctor said. “I once played junior hockey myself and I know that these types of incidents happen far too often. There are a few really bad coaches that will do anything to win a game.”
“How are you doing Rick?” Misty asked. She was wiping the tears from her eyes when she saw Rick grimace with pain.
“I’ll live,” Rick answered. “I just hope that the team gets good and mad and beats Norberry. I hope that Miles doesn’t get too nervous and plays well in goal.”
The young intern, Dr. Olafson addressed the family, “We’ve run several tests and taken x-rays. Fortunately, there won’t be any permanent damage to Rick’s neck or back. However, he does have quite a few nasty contusions on his body. The best treatment for these will be ice, Tylenol 3’s and rest. There is one serious concern I have regarding your son’s injuries.”
“What specifically?” Rick’s mother asked with a worried look on her face.
“Rick has suffered a concussion. I don’t foresee any permanent consequences. However, I may not be able to say the same if your son suffers another concussion during this season. I know that the final decision is up to Rick and the family. But my recommendation would be that Rick sit out the rest of this season.”
“No way!” Rick said sitting up in his hospital bed. “The Cougars need me to be there number one goalie this season. We have a chance to be city champions.”
“I understand your loyalty to your team. If you insist upon returning this season, I must order you not to play for the next three weeks.” Dr. Olafson said.
The longer the fight in the stands at St. Vital Arena went on, the more spectators participated, either as active combatants, or they were only there to shout out encouragement to their friends. One of the brawlers was thrown heavily against an arena pillar and had the back of his head cracked open. A thick stream of blood now trickled down the white pillar behind the man’s head.
Six burly police constables had now entered the arena. One of the spectators, a pudgy little man in his mid thirties yelled out a warning, “Hey you guys! Break it up. The cops are here. Run for the back exit!”
In under a minute all the fighting had ceased and the arena was clear of brawlers and spectators. The police just watched as the fight’s participants fled out the back door of the arena. The senior arena employee walked up to the police constables.
A somewhat, stocky constable appeared to be in charge. He looked to be in his mid-forties. The police officer turned to the head arena attendant, “Looks like quite the kafuffle you had going on here. We’re not going to bother chasing those guys. There’s too many of them and it would be too hard figuring out which men we should charge. My men will just walk around to make sure there aren’t any more fans hiding somewhere in the arena. I will need you to show me to your office so that I can ask you some questions for the police report.”
“No problem, Officer.”
Gypsy had just arrived at the Greyhound terminal in Winnipeg. After the summer rock festival, he hitchhiked to Fargo, North Dakota where he knew a few friends. While he was there Gypsy found work as a casual employee at the Fargo Addictions Center. He enjoyed working there, but lost his position after he was seen smoking a joint behind a large garbage bin during his coffee break.
Gypsy had been with a lot of females, but from time to time, he would think about Misty, the girl he met at the rock festival when he was in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. He knew that Misty’s dad hated him, but this didn’t deter him from wanting to go back to Winnipeg. As Gypsy had just lost his job in Fargo and the people he had been staying with weren’t really close friends, he figured that now was as good a time as any to leave the United States and head for Canada.
Gypsy bought a Greyhound bus ticket and was soon on his way to Winnipeg. When he arrived at the bus terminal in Winnipeg his first stop was at the Salisbury House Restaurant. He was very hungry as he didn’t eat anything during the bus ride. He was also very tired, even though he attempted to take some short naps on the bus ride. Gypsy thought that a Big Nip, a plate of fries and some strong Salisbury House coffee might help him feel human again.
The Salisbury House was very busy as they were getting the lunch time crowd. Gypsy could see only one spot left in a red booth where a young man was sitting. Gypsy said,” Hey man. Can I join you?”
The young man was Norman Schaefer, the guy who was going to jump off the Osborne Bridge. He looked quite different now. Norman was wearing green work pants and a red tee shirt that had his name sewn on it. He gave Gypsy a friendly smile that revealed that he had lost his two front teeth.
“I’m just on my lunch break. Seeing as I cashed my first pay cheque today. I decided to treat myself to a restaurant meal. I usually just bring along a bag lunch they give me at the homeless shelter. I get the bag lunches for free so I shouldn’t complain, but they don’t taste that great. They’re generally the left overs from last night’s supper made into a sandwich,” Norman said.
“That doesn’t sound that appetising. Oh, I should introduce myself. My name’s Gypsy. I just arrived here by bus from Fargo, North Dakota. Do you work at a service station, Norm?”
Norman laughed. “Oh, gee, I wonder how you know my name?” lowering his chin to look at the name tag on his shirt.
“It’s probably not too hard to figure what I do either, pointing to the lettering on his tee shirt that said. ‘Allen’s Auto Clinic’. There was another dead give away, the dirt and grease under Norman’s finger nails.
“So, what brings you to Winnipeg, Gypsy? Do you have family or relatives here?
“No, I was in Winnipeg during the summer and made a few good friends here. This might turn out to be just a visit for me, but I kind of like Winnipeg, at least in the warmer season. Who knows? I might even look for a job while I’m staying here,” Gypsy said.
“Where will you live?” Norm asked.
“Well, I know that there are a lot of cheap hotels and motels in Winnipeg. I might rent a room at one of them. I don’t have much money on me so I’m going to have to go the least expensive route, at least until I get a job.”
“You might want to try The House of Hope. It runs a men’s hostel downtown. I have a friend who works there. He’s the same guy who got me the job at the auto clinic. The shelter is actually pretty good as far as homeless shelters go. You get a single room to yourself and they have a main dining room where all the meals for the residents are cooked. The staff keeps it fairly clean. They don’t have beg bugs or anything. The best part is that they only charge rent on an ability to pay basis. Most of the guys there get their rent paid by welfare,” Norm said.
“I might want to check the place out.” Gypsy said.
“I can take you there right after work and I’ll introduce you to my friend, Lloyd Roberts, the evening shift supervisor.”
“Your friends name is Lloyd Roberts?” Gypsy asked as a wave of anxiety gripped him.”
As soon as Rick stepped on the ice he could hear a cacophony of noise coming from both the left and right hand bleachers. Most of the crowd in the left bleachers were booing Rick and the Cougars, but he could also hear some cheers of encouragement coming from the opposite bleachers. The Cougars were blessed to have a large group of committed fans who travelled to all their road games. Rick didn’t mind the booing and verbal assaults from the Norberry fans. It just pumped more adrenaline through his veins.
Rick made a practice of only skating one cycle around the rink. During the end of his skate Rick dropped two practise pucks on the ice for his teammates. The rest of the Cougars would complete one more round of the rink and line up at the blue line ready to take warm up shots at Rick. Rick took the warm up routine very seriously. His goal was not to allow any pucks to get by him during the warm up. With Rick’s lightening fast, well developed glove hand, none of his teammates shots entered the net. Rick’s team followed a routine of taking only slap-shots from the blue line.
Just as important to Rick as not letting any pucks in during the warm up routine, was his desire to stop the first shot fired at him by the opposition. Rick’s first test came early. The Cougar’s lost the first face-off draw to the Norberry Knights. This allowed Norberry’s star left winger, Paul Bolten to fire a blazing slap-shot at the Cougar’s goal. The Cougar’s goalie countered with lightening speed and caught the puck that was intended for the top right corner of the net. Rick decided to play it safe and freeze the puck for a face off in the left face-off circle of the Cougar’s goal.
This was just a foretaste of what Rick was forced to handle during the rest of the first period. The Norberry Knights were physically a much larger team than the Cougars. The Cougars had a slight advantage in speed, but Norberry’s game plan was to counter it with brute physicality. The Cougar players were taking hard checks every time they tried to get the puck out of their own end of the ice. Fortunately, Rick was in top form, stopping both high and low shots from every angle and scrambled to constantly stay on top of the action in front of his net. To Rick’s relief the siren to mark the end of the first period sounded just as Rick made another spectacular save.
Misty could guess what the term, ‘hockey wives’ meant and was not sure that she liked the implications. She could not imagine her prime identity as being a hockey player’s boyfriend. As she watched the first period of the game she was not sure that she even liked hockey. She wondered if some of the other girls felt the same way and only attended the hockey games because they loved their boyfriends. Misty also thought that for most of the girls being attached to a hockey player was an important part of their identity. For them, being a hockey player’s girlfriend was an important status symbol. The women’s liberation movement was starting to make some head way in the sixties, but it seemed to not have had much impact on the majority of Canadian females. To these women, dating a hockey player was critical to their self esteem and placed them in an elite group at high school.
As Misty scanned the row of ‘hockey wives’ she noted that all were attractive young women. This seemed to imply that a member of the hockey team had to have a good looking girl at his side. If he couldn’t latch onto a beautiful girl, there must be something wrong with him and he would be better off just being single, just as Rick had been before this evening.
Eric’s girlfriend, Susan introduced Misty to the rest of the group.
“Don’t be nervous, Misty. We’ll all have time to talk after the first period ends. During that time the players go to their dressing rooms for fifteen minutes. It gives the guys a chance to rest and to get feedback from their coach.
When the Cougars returned from their dressing room to start the second period defenceman, Eric Coswell skated over to Rick’s goal crease to tap his pads with his stick.
“You’re playing great tonight Rick. You’re really keeping us in the game. If Miles was in goal, I bet we’d be behind by three goals already.”
“Don’t be so hard on the kid. Give him some time. Miles has been working hard. He just needs more experience,” Rick replied.
“I’m still glad you’re playing tonight, Rick,” Eric said.
“Just remember, Eric. We can take these guys. A win against the Knights this early in the season would give our guys a big boost and would really increase their confidence,” Rick said.
“That’s another reason I like you Rick, your positive attitude.”
“Hey, I’ve never played for a losing team and I don’t intend to start now,” Rick said.
“I’ll pass your words of encouragement on to the guys when I get back to the bench,” Eric said.
In the stands Susan turned towards Misty. “The team’s sure lucky to have Rick with us this year. He’s giving us a chance to be a winning team.”
Misty took a sip from her cup of coffee and smiled. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad going out with a star hockey player.
Linda Saunders, Miles’s girlfriend, overheard this conversation and gave Misty and Susan a dirty look. Before Rick Miller decided to join the Cougars for one more season the other girls were singing the praises of her boyfriend, Miles. Linda was afraid that this would cause her to lose some prestige among the rest of the player’s girlfriends.
Linda turned to Shelly who was standing next to her in the stands. “You know Shelly. I’ve heard some wild stories about Rick Miller and his new girlfriend, Misty.”
Shelly looked surprised. “Yeah? Like what?”
“I heard that both Rick and Misty are really into drugs and that Misty sleeps around a lot,” Linda said.
“Wow!” was all that Shelly could say.
Eric Coswell skated over to the Cougars bench to pass on the pep talk that Rick Miller had just given him. He then skated back to take his position on defense. Eric was the best defenseman on the Cougars roster and he was absolutely fearless when it came to protecting Rick in goal.
Shortly after the puck was dropped to start the second period Eric’s determination and courage were put to the test. During the first intermission, Jeff Hadley, the Norberry Knight’s coach had given one of his power forwards, Glenn Davison, a special assignment. Jeff asked Glenn to meet him in the washroom for a private conversation.
“Look Glenn, I didn’t want to say this in front of your teammates, but I want you to do something for me during the second period.”
“Sure. What do you want me to do, coach?” Glenn asked as he adjusted his elbow pads.
“Glenn you’re a smart enough player to see what happened out there in the first period. We badly out played the Cougars. We had the puck in their end the majority of the time and out shot them eleven to four. We should be winning this game by at least two goals, maybe three. The only reason we’re not winning this game is Maplewood’s goalie, Rick Miller. He’s made some incredible saves during the first period and that is why the game is still scoreless. As soon as you get a chance, I want you to take a run at him. I want to see Rick Miller hit so hard that he has to be taken out of the game. At the very least, I want to see Miller so shaken up that it will throw him off for the rest of the game,” Jeff said trying to speak quietly so that his other players wouldn’t hear what he told Glen. The Knight’s coach knew that there were a few bleeding hearts on his team that would not approve of so unsportsman -like a game strategy.
“No problem coach. I’ll take Miller out of the game. I know that their defenseman, Eric Coswell will go after me as soon as I crash into Miller,” Glenn said.
“I know he will, but you’re the team’s enforcer. I expect you to punch Coswell out in the ensuing fight. I want to send the Cougars a powerful message. We can’t allow a weak team like Maplewood beat us this early in the season. I want our team to win the city championship,” Jeff said pounding his fist into his other hand for emphasis.
The referee dropped the puck and Norberry center, Milt Hamilton won the face-off draw. He immediately passed the puck back to his teammate, defenceman, Russel Stein. When Stein saw a Cougar forward rushing toward him he immediately dumped the puck along the boards. The puck careened behind the Cougar’s net and Rick Miller left his net to stop it. Glenn Davidson saw his opportunity and charged towards Rick using all of his two hundred pounds to smash the Cougar’s goalie into the boards. Rick didn’t see the hit coming and slid down the boards laid flat out on the ice. Rick was unconscious.
A few seconds after Davidson levelled Rick, an enraged Eric Coswell raced in front of the Knight’s enforcer and dropped his gloves. Davidson did the same and an epic battle appeared inevitable. Coswell matched Davidson in height, weight and power. Eric threw the first punch, a powerful round house right that brought the Knight’s power forward to his knees. A stream of red blood started to stream out of Davidson’s mouth. By this time the referee saw that Davidson looked seriously injured and with the help of two linesmen restrained Eric Coswell from any further aggression towards his opponent. Norberry’s trainer came out to examine Davidson and Maplewood’s trainer arrived beside Rick Miller. The fans let out two audible gasps. One when Davidson bulldozed Rick Miller into the boards and another one when Eric Coswell pole-axed Glenn Davidson.
With the help of the trainer and a teammate a wobbly Davidson was taken to the Norberry Knights bench. Maplewood’s trainer didn’t want Rick Miller moved until the paramedics arrived with a stretcher. As soon as she saw what happened to Rick, Misty climbed down towards the Cougar’s bench. She turned to Susan and wept when she saw the paramedics arrive.
Two young paramedics came on to the ice. Two of the Cougars players grabbed onto the paramedics’ arms as they escorted them towards Rick. Rick was now slowly becoming conscious, but felt woozy. His vision was blurry.
Two other paramedics were at The Norberry Knights bench attending to Glenn Davidson. As soon as the paramedics finished their examination of Glenn, they put some ice in a towel for temporary treatment of a cut lip that would require suturing. They also wanted to take Glenn to the hospital so that the attending emergency physician could check for a possible broken jaw.
When Rick’s paramedics got ready to assess Rick’s medical condition, Rick was lying prone on the ice behind the Cougars net. Rick was able to answer the questions asked by the paramedics. He was feeling disoriented and slightly confused. Rick could tell the paramedic where he was, but wasn’t sure what had happened to him. The paramedics brought out a stretcher and carefully placed Rick on it. Both Rick Miller and Glenn Davidson were transported to St. Boniface Hospital.
After the ambulance left the referee and his linesmen huddled together to discuss what penalties needed to be assessed. In less than five minutes, the officials had come to a consensus. Glenn Davidson was assessed a boarding penalty, a ten- minute misconduct and a game misconduct. Eric Coswell was given a five- minute roughing penalty for drawing blood, a ten- minute misconduct and a game misconduct. The official knew that when they composed their game report at the end of the third period, they would have to describe the violent incidents in detail. The game report would be reviewed by the league’s conveners who would decide what would happen in terms of suspensions for both Glenn Davidson and Eric Coswell.
On the Cougar’s bench, Coach Brad Keenan told Miles Meyers to get on the ice and start taking some warm up shots from the teammates that were still on the ice.
It was Wednesday afternoon and Rick decided to skip his economics class that afternoon. Over the summer he went to the library and got a copy of the slim, brown, grade twelve economics textbook and read it all the way through in a couple of sittings. As Rick had already read several books from the library on politics and modern history, he found the concepts in the economics textbook easy for him to understand. Rick thought that missing one economics class was not going to impede his learning. He had a big game tonight against the Norberry Knights and Rick felt that he needed the afternoon to get himself both mentally and physically prepared for the game.
Rick had read about how some very successful professional hockey players prepare for their games. Rick knew that a great deal of the preparation for a game was mental and this meant ‘psyching yourself up’. He lay down on his bed, closed his eyes and visualized making great saves in the upcoming game. Rick would do this for about twenty minute before he walked down to the basement to do some warm -up exercises.
His routine started with some light stretching movements. Rick would then climb up on his stationary exercise bike and pedal at a moderate speed for about twenty minutes. After his bike ride, Rick moved to the spot on the carpet where he kept his free weights. He would then do some light resistance training. After following this routine with a five- minute break, Rick picked up a light green tennis ball. He used his right hand to whack the tennis ball against the cement wall in his basement. As soon as the ball rebounded off the wall Rick would catch it with his left hand. He completed this exercise in two five minute intervals.
Rick used an old towel to wipe off the perspiration while he jogged upstairs to the kitchen to make himself a corned beef sandwich and a glass of milk. After his lunch Rick got into bed and took a forty-five-minute nap.
Upon arising from a restful nap, Rick started to think about the importance of tonight’s hockey game. Rick’s team, the Cougars had gotten off to a shaky start to the season. So far, they had played five games in which they won one, lost three and tied one. This was the worst season start for the Cougars during the last ten years. Rick was trying to figure out why this was happening.
One reason was that only a few players returned from last year’s team. Most of the veteran players were now ineligible to play due to their ages. The majority of this year’s team were younger and frankly, were not as talented as the veteran players the team had lost. Rick knew that he would really need to step up his game this year to make his team competitive. Once again as he had done the last few years, his coach was trying to split the workload between his two goalies by platooning them.
The other goalie was two years younger than Rick. His name was Miles Meyers. Miles was shorter and didn’t have the big build that Rick has, but he was a very acrobatic young goalie. While studying Miles’s play. Rick concluded that Miles would be a top notch goalie with a few more years of experience under his belt.
The Cougars were scheduled to play the Norberry Knights that evening. Before getting his gear ready for the game, Rick thought about giving Misty a call to see if she would like to come with him to watch the game.Tonight, Rick was scheduled to start in goal as it was an away game. It worked out that Rick would play most of the away games and Miles would work the majority of home games. For some reason, Rick liked this arrangement as he found that he preferred to play in different rinks. He seemed to get more pumped up when he knew that at least one side of the arena would ‘boo’ him. Like a professional wrestler, Rick enjoyed ‘drawing heat’ from the opposition’s fans.
As Rick did not know how Misty would respond to his invitation, he was more than a little nervous when he picked up the phone.
“Hi, Misty. It’s Rick,”
“You think that I don’t recognize my new boyfriend’s voice by now?” asked Misty.
“I love the sound of ‘my new boyfriend’,” Rick said.
“It sounds like you are falling in love.”
“I already have,” replied Rick.
“So what’s on your mind?” Misty asked.
“I’ve got a hockey game and I want to know if you would like to come with me.”
“That’s right. I’m dating a jock. I’ve never done that before. Sure, let’s go for it. I’ve never even been to a hockey game before.”
“You’ll love it. Good, fast paced action. Can you be ready by five-thirty?”
“I think I can manage that. I’m kind of looking forward to watching you play hockey,” Misty answered.
Rick picked Misty up precisely at five-thirty. Misty was dressed in a slightly faded red UCLA sweatshirt and was ready to go. When they arrived at the St. Vital Arena a few of Rick’s teammates and their girlfriends were just getting out of their cars. Eric Coswell, one of the Cougars defensemen was the first to greet Rick. Eric was wiry and a bit small for a defenseman, but he was very strong and was very effective in keeping opposing players out of Rick’s crease.
“Are you all ready for an epic battle tonight, Rick, my man? Hey, who’s the beautiful young lady beside you?” Eric asked.
“I just got out of my car and you’ve already fired two questions at me. Which one do you want me to answer first?” Rick replied while smiling at Eric.
Tonight Rick was feeling really good. He had often dreamed about a time when he would have a female to show off to his teammates. It had not been easy being the only player on his team not to have a girlfriend.
“Yes, I’m psyched for the game and this is my neighbour, Misty,” Rick said. He was positively beaming by this point.
“Actually we’re more than just neighbours, Eric. Rick’s my new boyfriend,” Misty said proudly.
“Yeah, sorry Misty. I should have said that you are my girlfriend,” Rick said sheepishly.
“You’re forgiven dear. I hear that Rick’s a really good goalie,” Misty said.
“You heard right. I would go so far as to say that Rick’s the best goalie in the league,” Eric said.
Rick blushed and said, “We better get in the arena. I need to find Misty a seat in the stands and you and I need to get dressed for the game.”
“Please excuse Eric’s poor manners,” said a shapely young female with sparkling green eyes and beautiful auburn hair that was impatiently standing by Eric’s side.
“Sorry, Rick’s already met Susan, but I don’t know if you two girls know each other,” Eric said.
“I know Misty from school. She’s in my biology class. Unfortunately, we’ve never really talked before today,” Susan said.
“Hi Susan. I’m sorry I haven’t talked to you yet. I’m a bit shy and I’m still new to Maplewood,” Misty said.
“Well, that’s all going to change tonight. Rick, you won’t have to take Misty to the stands. I got you covered. I’m going to get us a couple of coffees from the concession stand and then I’ll introduce her to the rest of the ‘hockey wives,’” Susan said.
As Rick and Eric entered the visitors dressing room all the talk was about the girl that Rick brought to the game. A few seconds later the Cougars coach Brad Kennan returned from the washroom.
“Listen up you guys. I know you’re curious, but don’t ask Rick any questions about his new female friend. Wait until the game is over. You guys all realize the importance of tonight’s game. I need Rick and the rest of you guys to place all your concentration on the game for the next ninety minutes and nothing else. Most of all, I don’t want Rick distracted by anything. I need him to be completely focused on the game.
As I’ve told you guys before, I’m not happy with the way we’ve started off this season. I also know that you’ve heard a lot of talk from some of our fans. They’ve been saying that this year’s team is too young and doesn’t have the talent that previous year’s teams had. Yes, we are probably the youngest team in a few years, but that doesn’t bother me. Our youngest players will pick up on experience as the season progresses. I want you players to forget about the naysayers and to start to think positively. I believe in you guys and believe that we will be a force to be reckoned with this season.”
The Cougars started getting dressed for the game. Every player followed a different routine in putting on their hockey gear. For Rick, the most important component of getting prepared had already been done at home. Rick was meticulous in making sure that every item of his goalie equipment was placed in his duffle bag before he left home. Rick would double check a few minutes later to make sure that he hadn’t missed anything while he was packing up his duffle bag.
One of the last pieces of equipment that Rick put on was his hockey sweater. When the Cougars played on the road they always wore their white sweaters with brown and gold trim. Rick always preferred the road jersey with his name and the number one on the back.
As he was tonight’s starting goalie for the Cougars, he was the first to lead his teammates from the visitor’s dressing room to the ice. Rick had placed two pucks in his trapper glove for the five- minute warm up. He always felt a tremendous rush of adrenaline surge through him as he led his team out to the ice.
Due to the brawl in the stands that took place during their last outing, security was very tight at the St. Vital Arena. Three uniformed police constables were on duty reinforced with six guards hired from the Garda Security Company.
The head referee for tonight’s game was Steve Kowakski who had the reputation as the official who administered the most discipline to players who broke the rules.
Rick Miller was back in goal for The Maplewood Cougars. During the pre-game warm up, Rick had easily handled shots coming from all angles and had not allowed a single puck get passed him. The stands were packed on both sides of the arena with loud but cautious fans that were here to support their respective teams. The fans on both sides were very cognizant of the extra security officials. It appeared that none of the fans had made any plans to spend the night in jail following tonight’s game.
Head referee, Steve Kowalski skated over to both the Knights and the Cougars benches and read the riot act to both the coaches and the players. He explained, in no uncertain terms that he and his linesmen were going to call a very tight game and if he saw any player intentionally attempt to injure an opponent, he would personally make sure that the offender would be suspended for the rest of the season including the playoffs. Both coaches nodded their heads by way of indicating that they clearly understood his stern message.
“What does Godzilla have to do with Misty’s problem?” Sabrina asked.
“Oh, in a very creative way, he can put an end to Linda Saunders badmouthing Misty and Rick,” Peyton answered.
“I’ll ask Godzilla to pay a surprise visit to see Miles Meyers after hockey practise tomorrow. Rick told me that Miles is always the last player to leave the arena. Miles’s physical conditioning is not that great and due to exhaustion following a practise or a game he needs to take off his goalie equipment very slowly. He stops for brief rest periods each time that he takes off a piece of equipment. After undressing, Miles will take a long, hot, soapy shower. He will then put an extra large towel on a bench and lie down for about fifteen minutes. After that Miles slowly and methodically puts on his civilian clothes.
When Miles leaves the arena he will stop off at the 7-11 convenience store around the corner from the arena. Miles usual post practise routine normally takes forty-five to fifty minutes.