Tag Archives: hockey season

Grizzlies Hockey ~ A Season and the Impact

It’s that time again; a time I have yet to learn how I should better handle. It’s the end of the season. Ugh. I do not like the end of the season. Let me put it in my own words, and see if anyone else can relate. I know that I don’t always make sense, but I’ll give it a try. This might take awhile, but hey, it’s been 105 days and counting, until the banquet I suppose. There’s a lot to discuss.

Last night I found myself looking back at an email from November 29th, 2015, the night before tryouts. I read through it and revisited the thoughts, anticipations, questions, and emotions that I had that very night. Little did we know then, that just hours later, four of our players trying out would ‘lose their lunch, or breakfast, or dinner’ as it were, while skating during the first 530am ice time of the season. Many of you may have known, but I didn’t know how all of this would come together, so I will try to take you down this path in some particular order. Okay, there may not be any order.

Who knew it was so hard to move a hockey bag? I mean they can get heavy, and you usually know you’re near one long before you can see one. Oh, the smell! Seriously though, we spent the first week of the season chasing a hockey bag all over SAU 19. Kids can ride the bus, come and go from school, get to practices and such, but, oh that hockey bag, who knows its’ travels. See, the hockey bags and hockey sticks can’t ride a school bus. This requires a lot of planning, structure that wasn’t yet in place, or exquisite communication and good gas mileage. I did get to see the Holt’s beautiful property, you know, right up next to the North Pole, on one or two trips to retrieve a hockey bag. I also spent some time with Sebastian one afternoon trying to figure out just where his hockey bag had traveled once practice ended that morning, before school. I will say this though, the older kids were awesome, helpful, and willing to help the newbies, the youngsters. For that, we are all thankful.

One of the things that tears at my core when a season, that I love, comes to an end, is the finality of the chaos that had turned to a sort of rhythm of normalcy for a period of time. I immediately miss the alarm going off at 4-something-AM, and picking up a teammate or two on the way to St. A’s. I miss the teamwork it takes from the parents to help us all get through week after week of a long winter season. I miss seeing the boys all scramble from their vehicles in the dark of early morning when the rink door is opened. I miss the not-so-painful relentless onslaught of questions to do this, that, or the other thing because “everyone” on the team is going here or there. One day soon, I’ll miss even more, being the ‘ride’ to all things pertaining to a season.

I do love the energy that is found in a group of people working together towards a common goal. The team. The coaches. The parents. The board members. It’s awesome! To be a part of something bigger than yourself will never grow tired with me. Game nights turned into organized mayhem, which led to just another chance to see friends, new and old, and have a blast watching our team play. I am thankful for the folks that pull these things together. They are parents, friends, families, schoolmates, coaches, educators, and administrators. I enjoy the opportunity to help and be a part of the presentation that is our team, our sons, our future. It’s about the kids, and I love that.

Games, home and away, always a chance for the kid down the street, or the one from the next room, to do something you might have questioned he possessed the skills to do. You never know what’s going to happen next, and that is one of the beauties of sport. Walking into some far away rink, knowing that the Grizzlies were going to be skating for all to see, as we watch with the anticipation of what’s next. Looking around the rink, any rink, and seeing those familiar faces, knowing we all got each others’ back as it relates to supporting our team; there is a quiet confidence there. I hope the team feels the same.

There are highs and there lows as life would have it. Yet, the show must go on. Life lessons presenting themselves on a daily basis, and it’s all right there for us to be a part of, together, as a community. Watching the youth and the experience come together to be one, with both being better for it. The exuberance of achieving individually is fantastic, but fails in comparison to the sheer joy and sense of accomplishment when teammates celebrate you, us, with you. Oh, to be that kid again.

Maddie Carlson Night, Comedy Night, Charity of Choice, Goffstown Food Network, fundraisers, volunteerism, team bonding, outings, and more. Wow! What a group! The team donated $800 to help Maddie Carlson’s family with medical bills and expenses. They donated $1000 to the Northeast Passage Sled Hockey Program and were also honored, in turn, when the NEP team named Goffstowns’ 3 seniors as honorary coaches on their bench during a tournament game out in Exeter. Members of the team also helped the Goffstown Food Network move hundreds of pounds of food from one location to another at Christmas time. What a season. One day kids will grow to be men and women, adults, and I hope they realize sooner, than later, the effect they have on so many. You never know who is watching. You never know who needed to see any of us give of ourselves, help another, support someone else, refrain in the right moment, demonstrate humility and patience in another moment, or just smile to let the world know we are having a good time. Impact. Most times we don’t get to choose who we impact, but we always get the chance to choose how we carry ourselves, thus directing how we impact. None of us are perfect, even though Ethan Smith did stop every shot he faced in games this year, we all have our moments. If you read the first sentence of this paragraph, you will know what I mean, as it relates to this team, this group. Hundreds, if not thousands, of little moments packed into a season. I wish I knew of all the acts of kindness, caring, support, and even tough love that went into everyone that was a part of this season because I would share it. It’s a great group. I know I will miss the ones moving on, yes, even though some of these folks I have just met or started to get to know. That’s how ‘team’ works.

I have shared in the honor of relaying facts, stats, messages, updates, stories, comments, and numbers regarding this team all season. If I were better prepared, maybe I would have captured more of the sentiments shared throughout the season. There have been so many comments praising this team and the group that make it all happen. Really, it’s been wonderful to read and hear. Listed below I have gone back through messages and comments I have seen all the way to early December, right through to this week.

 


Final game against Merrimack, “You should be proud of your fighting spirit. We are proud of having you represent Goffstown.”

Final game against Merrimack, “Good luck this afternoon! Give it everything you have!! ‪#‎GrizzlieNation‬

OT Tourney win, “Congrats Grizzlies on your win over Lebanon tonight!!!”

Win against Windham, “Great job tonight!”

On supporting NEP, Charity of choice, “GO GRIZZLIES! Class act team.”

Maddie Carlson Night, “Awesome,,,such a great team!!!”

One of the team bonding events, “They definitely had a blast!”

On Comedy Night, “We had a blast!”

Opening night, “Nice opener Grizzlies!!!!! Congrats keep it going, we are all watching and cheering.”

Opening night, “Awesome!!”

Opening night, “Excellent job boys!!”

Regarding Maddie, “we are all praying for her..this is the ️best hockey team in the USA!”

Regarding Maddie, “You know… I am 700+ miles away, but the joy I see with stuff like this makes me smile….. Congrats to Maddie and her team from Goffstown HS!!!”

Online presence, “Your team has the best stuff on the GHS Athletics page.”

Online presence, “Thank you for keeping us up to date on the team.”

Online presence, “We love to see the articles and all of the pictures of the boys!”

Online presence, “We started coming to games to see what all these stories were about. What a team! Go Grizzlies!”

Teaching moments, “I couldn’t agree with you more about the National Anthem. Thank you for sharing that.”

Teaching moments, “I liked that video about the anthem too…good coach & American. I hope everyone watched it with their kids.”

Support, ” I love your write ups!  Can’t miss one!!”

Support, “Thank you for all write ups. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading them.”

Support, “I love the articles and keeping up with the team.”

Support, “I woke up early looking for the article on the game the night before. Loved it!”

Support, “Thank you for all the great game reviews.  My parents in florida and my sister in Oregon feel like they were at the game !!!”


 

Honestly, I am humbled by the support of the write-ups, blog posts, articles, or whatever they are called. The support, kind words, and feedback from Grizzlies Nation has been overwhelming. I am truly thankful just for the opportunity to contribute along with everyone else. There are so many people, between the coaching staff, the players, the trainers, the bus drivers, the parents (of past and present players), the Friends of Goffstown Hockey, the school folks, and so on, that do so much to make a season even possible. It’s about all of them, supporting the kids. Thank you all for letting me be a part of this 2015-16 GHS Hockey season. It has truly been my pleasure.

So, another season goes in the books. Which is another thought that I had. Are there actually books that track each season? The records. The stats. The schedules. I will pursue that lead separately. Anyway.

In an attempt to close this out, I go back to the word, impact. Impact is defined this way; the action of one object coming forcibly into contact with another, or, the effect or influence of one person, thing, or action, on another. Maybe it’s just me, but this season, right from tryouts through now, has impacted me. Maybe even forcibly come in contact with any of us. Certainly there has been ‘effect’, and most definitely influence on another. Personally, I think the impact has been positive. I do believe the team, the sum of its’ parts, is better today than they were when the roster was announced on December 2nd. I do believe the players are better players, up and down the roster, than they were when we started. I think the coaching staff had an impact, a positive one at that, right out of the gate. I heard it in the voices of the returning families, I saw it in the smiles on the players faces. I felt it being around the rink and witnessing the countless gestures of kindness and support. The kids broke out of the secrecy and security found in any good locker room environment, crossing the threshold back into the reality of life away from that sacred sanctuary found at the rink, often times greeted with brownies, cookies, or some other baked goods. There was impact, and it was everywhere.

Did Maddie Carlson night have an impact on anyone? Oh, I know it did. Did Maddie Carlson herself, have an impact? Absolutely. Did we all, the entire GHS Hockey community, have an impact on Maddie and her family? I am quite certain we did. Seeing and hearing Maddie’s mom having a blast at the comedy show was worth the price of admission alone. (Segue way) How about the Comedy Night Fundraiser? What an overwhelming impact it had on the camaraderie found in the Goffstown Hockey community. I look forward to building on that. The more the merrier, I always say. Did the team and the support group around them have an impact on the Northeast Passage Program? I certainly hope so. Did they have an impact on us? I believe they did. Their tagline is “living beyond disability”. We could all learn from those three words. In fact, we could interject our own word in the blank, “living beyond ____”, and be better for it. How about Senior Night? Impact. The program carries on, but each year somebody’s high school career comes to an end, and while it’s sad, it’s really just another beginning. But, there is without question, impact felt throughout the organization.

Then there’s the time on the ice. There’s the beauty of the boldness in the perceived immortality of youth. Did Stephen Provencher have an impact on those who watched him work and go boldly where he never had gone before? Yes. How about Ethan Smith, and his commitment to being the backup goaltender to Holty? Impact? Yes. Did 6’5″ Dylan Hyers come forcibly into contact with another? Oh yes, and it was awesome. There’s Brett Lassonde, and the comments I heard all year about his abilities and tenacity for his size. Well guess what, he’ll keep growing, and he was fantastic regardless of size. Yes, please know that there’s been an impact on more than you know. Mike Fortin, defense, offense, extra attacker, #12 did it all. Impact = tremendous. Noah Charron, did he have an impact? Yes he did. The sophomore led the team in goals and points. What about Tyler Riendeau and his impact? He seems like a field (ice) general, giving direction and feedback constantly. Like it or not, improve your game to match his, and oh yes, there’s an impact. Who remembers being impacted by the theft committed by Max Lajeunesse leading to his game-winning snipe against eventual DII Champs, Windham? Oh, that impact was felt throughout the State of NH hockey circles. Then there was the Griffin Cook, Ben Roy, and Alex McCarthy line. I called them my abacus line, as they wore numbers 5,6, and 7. They teamed up for a beautiful goal early in the season and the senior meshed with the youth, leading by his hustling example, each of them battling to make hockey plays, each having their own impact. These youngsters can play, and their impact will continue to be felt. There’s Colin Burke who started the season as a long, lanky, 14-year-old kid. He was pressed into service against players 4-5 years older than him, but he battled, showed his skills, and worked on improving. Impact? Yes, and I can’t wait to see what he has to offer this program in the coming seasons. There was Sebastian Beal who played his way into consistent ice time, and definitely had an impact on the ice, especially killing penalties. Impact, oh ya. You ask about Jake Noonan and his impact? Sure he impacted others. He got a chance to play along some much more experienced defensemen, which was a tremendous classroom experience right there on the ice everyday. I also hear that alongside his efforts to improve on the ice, he had some pretty good one-liner comments at practices that brought some humor from an unexpected source. Nick Nault had an impact, not only on the number of sticks (his and opponents’) he snapped with his slapshot, but with his skills on the ice. He impacted how other teams defended the Grizzlies power play and offensive rushes up ice. Oh, how many, would be goal scorers, did Colin Holt impact this season? Too many. I think the whole of Grizzlies Nation felt the Holty impact in the overtime victory over Lebanon in the first round, among many examples this season. Speaking of which, could we ever forget the impact of Sam Greenwood on the Raiders from Lebanon in that first round win? Watch the video (GTV on YouTube) of the 1:03 of overtime play. Greenwood made his impact felt in just about every way possible, and he did all season.

Yes, there has been an impact up and down this team, and it has been tremendous. Like I said, you never know who is watching, and just who you might be impacting at any given time. I hope this trip through the season in 3,000 words or less, has helped bring attention to this fact. In the end, you, Goffstown Grizzlies Hockey, have impacted us all, and you make us proud. Go Grizzlies!

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GHS Hockey: Goffstown 5 @ Merrimack 8 (Quarter-Final)

Saturday, March 12, 2016. 400pm @ West Side Arena, Manchester, NH – #7 Goffstown vs. #2 Merrimack. (Go ahead and click on the pictures, they open in their own page)

quarter finals bear

What’s a Goffstown hockey game without a Grizzlie on the ice? (c) 1inawesomewonder. (Photo by Charron)

Well, where do I begin without letting the end get in the way. The Goffstown Grizzlies showed up with a whole bunch of their fans at West Side Arena this afternoon. I know that I, for one, hoped for the upset, the chance for the #7 seed to pounce, and knock off the #2 seed. In short, Merrimack was prepared, they were sharp, and they were better. Right from go. Their intensity waned not. After all was said and done, the Merrimack Tomahawks advanced to the Semi-Finals with an 8-5 victory over the upset-minded Goffstown Grizzlies.

Merrimack’s win today extends their streak to 13 consecutive games without a loss. They will move on and play in the Semi-Finals. The Tomahawks have a good team, and they should be good again next year. They did get 5 goals and 3 assists from their senior players today, but they have a strong junior class as well as a sophomore goaltender.

Sam Greenwood sprints up the left wing. (c) 1inawesomewonder. (Photo by Charron)

Sam Greenwood sprints up the left wing. (c) 1inawesomewonder. (Photo by Charron)

The Grizzlies, the school, and the fans, all saw Colin Holt, Sam Greenwood, and Ben Roy play their last game in a Grizzlies’ hockey uniform today. I have only known these kids for a few months, and it pains me still, to write that last sentence. In true Goffstown fashion, with no quit in their vocabulary, these guys led a charge that took a 6-2 deficit and cut it to 7-5 with 1:46 to play. But today, the better team had too many answers, and that was as close as Goffstown could get in the final period.

Colin Holt and Nick Nault getting ready to defend. (c) 1inawesomewonder. (Photo by Charron)

Colin Holt and Nick Nault getting ready to defend. (c) 1inawesomewonder. (Photo by Charron)

Merrimack senior, Ryan Downie scored 3 goals and added an assist. He scored an empty net goal with 0:43 seconds left and capped the Goffstown comeback bid. The Tomahawks got 4 assists from Remy Tupper (Jr), and a goal from his brother Aaron Tupper (Sr). Owen O’Brien (Jr) had a pair of goals while John Tiano (Jr) had a goal and an assist. Kyle Feeney (Sr) added a goal and 2 assists of his own. Goaltender, Greg Amato (So), looked shaky at times but ended up saving 20 of 25 shots in the win for Merrimack.

Goffstown, on the other hand, got 2 goals and 3 assists from sophomores and freshmen in this afternoon’s tilt. Sam Greenwood (Sr) had a goal and an assist in his final game for GHS.

Tyler Riendeau takes a faceoff in quarter-final action. (c) 1inawesomewonder. (Photo by Charron)

Tyler Riendeau takes a faceoff in quarter-final action. (c) 1inawesomewonder. (Photo by Charron)

Colin Holt, the workhorse, in net would save 30 of 37 shots he faced today, and finished a stellar final season for the Grizzlies. Holt was 11-8-1 in goal, saving more than 90.3% of the shots he faced during the regular season and tournament play. Noah Charron (So) registered 2 goals and an assist, while Tyler Riendeau (Jr) scored a pair of goals for the Grizzlies. Nick Nault (Jr) had a pair of assists with helpers also coming from Dylan Hyers (Jr), Mike Fortin (So), and Sebastian Beal (Fr).

Sebastian Beal and Ben Roy getting after Remy Tupper. (c) 1inawesomewonder. (Photo by Charron)

Sebastian Beal and Ben Roy getting after Remy Tupper. (c) 1inawesomewonder. (Photo by Charron)

The ice was hard and fast. Merrimack was fast, and hard to play against. Goffstown was gritty, and never let up. The officials were atrocious, at least one of them, and I think both teams would agree. Blatant penalties committed by both teams were not whistled right from the start. Offsides and icings were merely a suggestion, not a rule to be enforced. This lack of control almost blew up in the officials’ (and everyone else’s) faces when the final 5 minutes of the third period looked as much like a melee as it did a hockey game. Players at this level learn quickly, if it’s not called, then for today, it’s okay. One Merrimack defenseman slashed someone on just about every shift. He usually acted on his moments of bravery when he thought nobody was watching, but I was. So were the refs on a couple of the hacks, but not a single whistle blew. (Maybe, like me, he is just upset winter is coming to an end, as if we had a winter this year.)

Dylan Hyers and Max Lajeunesse looking for a chance off of a faceoff. (c) 1inawesomewonder. (Photo by Charron)

Dylan Hyers and Max Lajeunesse looking for a chance off of a faceoff. (c) 1inawesomewonder. (Photo by Charron)

This approach led to the chip-chip-chippiness in the third period. As I said, both sides took liberties and got away with them, nearly all of them. You know what I am saying.

The game saw an empty net goal, a goal with an extra attacker, goals from each power play, wicked wrist shots, broken sticks, pucks bouncing off of the lively boards, and hard, fast action. The old West Side Arena, which looks better than ever, was pretty full, and the game didn’t disappoint. Merrimack is a good team and certainly could contend for a title if they play with the edge they had today.

Mike Fortin moves the puck up ice to Sam Greenwood. (c) 1inawesomewonder. (Photo by Charron)

Mike Fortin moves the puck up the ice to Sam Greenwood. (c) 1inawesomewonder. (Photo by Charron)

The Tomahawks will play #6 Windham who upset #3 Portsmouth-Newmarket 7-4 tonight out in Exeter. Keene and Bow advanced in the other side of the bracket.

I have a feeling I will get one more Grizzlies’ update in before spring tryouts start. So for now, I will leave it here. The Grizzlies have been a joy to watch, and it has been my honor and my pleasure to keep #GrizzlieNation updated with the measurables that are measured. Thank you all for the opportunity. Go Grizzlies!

 

The 2015-16 Goffstown Grizzlies Boys Varsity Ice Hockey team. Thank you guys. (c) 1inawesomewonder. (Photo by Charron)

The 2015-16 Goffstown Grizzlies Boys Varsity Ice Hockey team. Thank you guys. (c) 1inawesomewonder. (Photo by Charron)


Shots:
Goffstown: 8-5-12=25
Merrimack: 14-13-11=38

Goals:
Goffstown: 1-1-3=5
Merrimack: 3-3-2=8

Powerplays:
Goffstown: 1 for 3
Merrimack: 1 for 2

Saves:
Goffstown: Colin Holt saved 30 of 37 shots he faced in the loss.
Merrimack:  Greg Amato saved 20 of 25 shots he faced in the win.

Scoring:
1st : 14:17 M Ryan Downie from Remy Tupper.
1st : 7:15 G Noah Charron (16) unassisted.
1st : 6:50 M Kyle Feeney from Ryan Downie.
1st : 4:30 M Aaron Tupper from Remy Tupper.

2nd : 12:42 G Tyler Riendeau (10) from Noah Charron (9) and Mike Fortin (7).
2nd : 9:30 M PP Owen O’Brien from Kyle Feeney and Jeff Gerhard.
2nd : 3:33 M John Tiano from Remy Tupper.
2nd : 1:06 M Ryan Downie unassisted.

3rd : 6:35 G PP Sam Greenwood (9) from Dylan Hyers (8) and Nick Nault (10).
3rd: 5:49 M Owen O’Brien from John Tiano and Remy Tupper.
3rd: 5:07 G Noah Charron (17) from Sam Greenwood (14) and Sebastian Beal (12).
3rd: 1:46 G Tyler Riendeau (11) from Nick Nault (11).
3rd: 0:43 M EN Ryan Downie from Kyle Feeney.

Disclaimer:

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the individual contributors, mostly mine, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the schools, coaches, players, or characters listed in any of these blog posts. Or, maybe they do, but you would have to ask them directly. Maybe I am good at picking up on these things, and maybe I am not. I guess you can decide. Either way, “It’s a great day for hockey” ~ the late “Badger” Bob Johnson.

Another season ends

Another season ends. Over the weekend my eleven year old sons’ hockey season ended. Hockey started with off ice training back on August 1st, 2011. That’s 222 days of hockey season according to my calculations. That’s almost 61% of a complete year devoted to one team, to one sport, to ones self being the best they can be for themselves and for their team. That’s somewhere between 110 – 150 trips to a rink somewhere, I just didn’t feel like going back to count all the workouts, practices, and games.

As I sat down to write this, I started with a title, which I usually save for the end or sometime throughout the journey my mind takes me through. As soon as I wrote the words, my mind, which connects dots that aren’t visible at times, thought of the ELO song, Another Heart BreaksFitting in a way, I guess. Maybe my mind is on to something. So I have listened to that song a couple of times now while writing. If you like ELO at all, the album, Time, on which the song is found, is pretty good.

Anyways the hockey season ended for my sons Pee Wee team. They played 56 games during the season, winning 27, losing 27, and tying 2. I am proud of his effort. He worked hard to improve. He observed often and learned to be a better teammate on the ice. He did improve. He led the team in assists. He played team hockey, and he is better for it. But, this post isn’t about my son, it’s about a season, about a team.

I am thankful to my wife who, at the sacrifice of her own viewing pleasure, spent many cold hours in rinks all over the northeast, watching our twins while I kept stats, comments, and scores of games all season. See, I had the pleasure of following this team closely all season. I enjoy statistics and measurements, but I also like what my eyes, heart, and mind tell me outside of numbers. I really was the fortunate one. I tracked this team, wrote the articles recapping the games, tournaments, month summaries, and input the scores and scheduled games on the website. I had help from a friend here in town who posted many pieces and updates to the town website he runs. Those who know me, know that I have been known to utter the words, “It’s all about the kids”, on more occasions than I could count. That’s the reason I spent the hours this season with my spreadsheet, my little note pad, taking home the game sheets, and plugging everything in to any computer I could log in to. The kids.

I remember as a boy certain folks who would ask me at church on Sundays, how my baseball season was going, or how the State Tournament went, or where did you play this week, etc. I know that unless you knew my family, were at the games, or knew someone else on the teams I played for, then nobody knew that we were even playing anything. Nobody knew we were playing, much less winning, succeeding, growing as teens and teammates. Don’t get me wrong, I had some awesome coaches and devoted parents around me too, but it clearly wasn’t all about the kids as much as it is today. I say that with caution because there’s a lot of people who don’t get it even today. They run around with their heads’ cut off as if their life depended on it, almost as if their son or daughter is an after thought. Kids still need time and space to be kids. I am waiting for the day when an adult no longer says they wish they could be a kid again. They’ll grow up on their own time, just like you and I did.

So, this season was long, it was hectic at times, maybe even grueling here and there. But I would do it again. I love hockey. I love kids who play hockey. I enjoy the family camaraderie that materializes over the hours spent huddled together on a bench, rink-side in sub-forty degree temperatures. The odd ice times, travel schedules, and time it takes to gear up and gear down to play this sport, is all part of it. There are more sleep-overs, come play at my house times, and team lunches than there is in other sports. It’s also pretty cool that most hockey programs pull from more than one town, meaning that these players will play against each other in high school, and so on. It’s another plus for hockey and for the individuals it produces when the hockey gods whisper softly in the players ear letting them know their time playing hockey competitively is done.

Like any season there were ups and downs. There were injuries. There were tough losses. There were exhilarating wins. There was team bonding. There were hours and hours spent in vehicles coming to and from rinks. I know if I were to assess my own performance in the vehicle demeanor with my son, I would have maybe snagged a C for a grade. Kind of like when I was back in school. He would probably be harder on me. Which is the same issue I faced, being too hard at times, I am sure. I am largely in favor of kids being kids and I know I will be better at it next year than I was this year. Like him, I want to improve.

Our team was a mixed team this year, so we had players who were second year Pee Wees playing with first year Pee Wees. Thankfully we were able to get enough kids to have a team by combining the Pee Wees for this team. This also means that as tryouts for the 2012-2013 teams continue as we speak, half our team from this season will be moving up to the Bantam level next season. So, next season we will be spending these many hours with some different parents, and the kids playing alongside some different kids. Good for hockey.

A word (or several) about tryouts. Hockey does tryouts at the end of the season. The teams are selected and then 5 months later you show up and play with your team you made in March. It’s not that simple, thanks to the adults involved, but hopefully you get the idea. Anyways, in my sons particular case this past week, he had tryouts for the next season a couple of days before playing in this season’s State Tournament for his tier. Our team lost in the tournament so the season ended on Saturday afternoon. Tryouts for next season concluded today. Given the timeliness, or lack there of, regarding tryouts as it relates to the current season, I can see how it can be hard to distance one from the other.

I have coached some basketball over the years, and coached a lot of baseball with various age groups from age 9 thru 19. I have evaluated players at tryouts several times. The point is this. The coach in me is happy to know the things I know about the existing player in the existing season, or even previous seasons. I like knowing the makeup of the player, the compete level, the player they are when the game is on the line, the work ethic, the temperament, their athleticism, etc. It’s a plus to know these things. But, if I am coaching this team and looking at the players trying out, I am not looking at the sheet of ice through my rear-view mirror, I am looking forward to the team I see next season. I am looking, not at the player who scored a key goal this past November, but at what that player can give the team next March in the tournament, and the distance required to bridge the gap from now until the moment we need that player to be the best player possible in that position. See, to me, it’s fresh. It’s new. A clean slate. Everything to this point matters; only as it relates to what I can put together in the vision I see looking forward, made up of the players in front of me now. That’s part of the joy in it. It’s not about power or control, agenda or familiarity. It’s about what’s next, it’s about how do we best equip ourselves to get there, and who is coming with us. I would ask that my son be evaluated not by whom he knows, whom he is friends with, how good or bad a season he had, but how does he look today? How does he project? I tried out for teams I didn’t make. I worked harder because I wanted to show myself, and certainly that coach, that I was good enough. I’d show him. One of my older sons was cut from baseball teams a couple of times in Little League and from a school team. I remember talking to him on those days and hearing the resolve in his young voice to work at being better and proving those coaches wrong. Well he did get better. He pitched, and won the State Championship Legion Baseball game in 2010. He had a tremendous career on the field, and he’s an even better person. I’d like to think that some of those obstacles he overcame helped him be the young man he is today, as much as his effort to improve on the field helped him to an outstanding run as a player in high school, in Legion ball, and on several all-star teams.

And I am back. Okay, so this season was long. It was wonderful. It was downright frustrating. It was so much fun at times that joy was hard to contain. It was gut wrenching to watch my child along side his teammates as they poured their hearts into their games and fell short. At least on the scoreboard they did. Sometimes you can look in the mirror and know you left it all on the field of competition, but still came up short in the final score. That’s okay.

Our season really took off in January when the team played 17 games in 31 days. It was crazy. It was so much fun. The players responded. They played better the more they played. Then it was into February, a slower paced schedule, but the importance of wins and losses taking a new meaning as teams jostle for positions in the standings. When all was said and done, we made the tournament. We didn’t win it, but we made it, and we played well in the tournament. Sometimes there are just better teams playing better than your best on any given day. So as I sat on my bleacher seat Saturday afternoon, after the teams had left the ice, and many of the parents had started for the exit, I thought, just like that, another season ends.

I personally would like to thank the coaches who not only have to get their kids to games and practices, but have to be with the team before, during, and after each event. We get to sip our hot coffee, while laughing with friends, as we watch the games and enjoy the strength that exists among a group of people who want and hope for the same things. The coaches are on the bench dealing with the game, the players, the lineups, the ebb and flow of each minute, and the differences that exist from one player to the next. Thank you.

I would also like to thank the parents from our team this season. So many were willing and able to help us and others. Rides to and from rinks were always available. An extra set of eyes on a wandering twin were much appreciated. The commitment to get our kids to where they needed to be in order to be the teammate they aspire to be, is not one to be overlooked. Thank you to our devoted team mom who did an outstanding job keeping us all on track with information and changing schedules. Thanks also to our team mom for getting to the rinks so early and grabbing the best parking spots. Truthfully, it was comforting to know that the long trip to some tucked away rink paid off when I pulled in and saw her vehicle there.

Finally, as I usually do in other season pieces I have written in the past, thank you to the players. Thank you for smiling no matter the result of the game. Thank you for the boundless energy that somehow intensifies when a day of hockey is done and your free to enjoy your teammates and friends. Thank you for asking every time if a friend can come over, or if you can go home with a friend, or if we can all go eat together, even if the answer was often “no”. You wouldn’t be a kid otherwise. Thank you for playing as hard as you could on any given day. I know there’s school, there are projects, there’s family, there’s only 24 hours today, there are body parts that hurt, or sickness you are fighting, there are times you feel like nothing is going your way, there are times you might even be intimidated, and so the list goes. All things considered, thank you for showing up to play. Thank you for celebrating your successes and for feeling your losses. Thank you for being kids playing a team sport. Because even though you might hear the voice you wish you could avoid for at least that hour you’re on the ice, you still play, you still compete. Meanwhile, sitting on a cold bleacher seat rink-side there’s us parents who in some corner of our minds wish we were in your position. Thank you for your commitment to play this sport, as a team, for such a long season. It’s our pleasure to be there in the moments we are fortunate enough to see our youngsters become young men and women.

As I fold my last game sheet so I can return it to our team mom, I close my little note pad, and don’t care what happens to the pen I have in my possession, another season ends.