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.”