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I have distinct holiday memories from each stage of my childhood, and they all involve hockey. If you’re a parent of a young hockey guy or gal, then you’re either all too familiar with the hockey schedule over the holidays or you’re about to be.
In fact, holiday hockey is one of the key reasons why I find it funny when people complain about their schedule during the rest of the year. And believe me, I’m one of the complainers.
This is a holiday tradition that’s currently taking place right in our own backyard. I used to oversee the tournament back before the good ol’ blog was created, and it was truly an inspirational event, except when that one guy threatened to sue me for not giving out t-shirts (true story).
Little hockey players stumbling all over themselves, chasing a frozen puck while referees who are only a few years older but still capable of doing the job (& doing it well) are barking at the kids - it’s hilarious and fantastic all at the same time.
I love initiation hockey during the holidays because it also brings out an army of grandparents, which automatically bumps the positivity in the building up by five full face-pinching levels.
I was playing in a tournament after christmas one year when I was around 14 when one of my best friends was driven into the boards from behind. He suffered a bad concussion and was never the same.
The reason this memory sticks out for me is because of the effect the injury had on the team. I remember my teammate resting on a couch in our hotel room with half the team spending time with him instead of being outside on the ski-hill (which was a big deal for a bunch of kids from Sherwood Park, Alberta).
Obviously, I wish that the incident never occurred, but to this day I’m reminded of the bond between teammates, even when said teammates don’t fully comprehend what’s truly going on and what’s going to happen in the future.
The World Junior Hockey tournament played every year over the holidays has cemented itself as one of Canada’s most cherished traditions. Every year, a team of 17-20 year-olds is assembled to compete for minor hockey’s greatest prize. Teammates become enemies and opponents become brothers. I’ll never forget watching Team Canada teammates Andrew Ladd and Ryan Getzlaf drop the mitts a few weeks after the 2003 tournament.
Do you remember where you were when Jordan Eberle scored with 4 seconds left against the Russians to force overtime?
And do you remember who scored in the shootout to ultimately win the game?
That’s right: Jordan Eberle. Who does he play for now?
Sure, blinking lights and fat guys with beards getting stuck in the chimney are cool, but for me, and plenty of Canadians I reckon, the holidays are time to celebrate the greatest game on Earth.
This year once again I boarded an airplane with 20 of my closest colleagues for Calgary en route to the best Midget hockey tournament on the planet: The Mac’s Cup. At this point we’ll be two games in, either on our way to glory or devastation.
What a time to be a hockey fan!