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Hockey is the only sport...
John in 2009 still not drafted at 48 years of age
Hockey is the only sport I know anything about.
Why do I say hockey is the only sport that I know anything about? well first-off because it is primarily truthful (I do know a wee-bit about those other sports namely football, baseball, curling, soccer, skiing and some pseudo-sports like bowling either 5 or 10-pin, BINGO (in Canada it can get quite violent and/or exhausting) did I just place bowling in the same category as BINGO (well now you know relatively how I feel about bowling-so sorry). Second-off, I am from Canada; although that may warrant some "plaining;" I will refrain for now however, here is the rest of this story...
When I turned 4 I began to learn how to skate. It did not take long. I learned basic skating from my older brother and my father. Not my sister, I would only learn jealously from my attitude towards her -much later, because she would make the Great Hockey Hall of Fame. I and my brother would not! That is another story...
We had a rink in our backyard and so did our immediate neighbor. We quickly learned to appreciate the relative oxymoron "freezing cold" and deep-winter. When spring and Summer arrived we could be generally caught playing ball hockey, tennis or on a few occasions baseball (although it was the pre-Blue Jay era so it was not what we called "hard ball" it was "softball." Thus, most always we played some derivative of hockey, either ice hockey, ball hockey or what we played at Henderson Ave, Public (elementary) School; namely shinny which could be described as ice hockey in the rough (our school playground had an outdoor hockey rink) or "cossum" hockey (played in our school gym with overly flexible plastic sticks and no hitting allowed). Can you guess why I was so excited when I and two of my friends were selected as our school's "Gym Boys" and then we were ceremoniously let-go a couple months after we got the job?
After learning how to skate on my "home-outdoor" rink I was ready for "the big leagues" I graduated to our elementary school's outdoor rink (in kindergarten) and/or Goulding Park Outdoor Rink (located fairly close - Willowdale area) to where I slept; note, I said where I slept, not where I lived, because I spent more time on the ice or road (road hockey) "a ways" from my home and quite content (much to the miscontent of my mother). In an interesting side-note one of the "guys" (Mario Sgroi) that I have played hockey with in Florida also played at Goulding Park as a youngster.
Thank God I didn't have to complete all of the reading and assignments they give children these days...I did become a relatively "good" reader just the same, and although I did not read as many classics as my children were forced to read I did read the children's well-known (only by a few) CLASSIC, Roger Crozier Daredevil Goalie. Of course, after reading that particular classic that would signal the beginning of the end of John's offensive endeavors...Coming Soon: Retreat to the ideal Chat Room (the crease)...
I began in the infamous Thornhill Community Church Minor Hockey League representing my church, Thornhill United Church. I was "first line" left winger and played with right winger Doug "Dougy" Heron and center extraordinaire Mike "Parky" Parkinson. Half way through the season if I remember correctly all three of us were in the top 10 in total points. I had the most assists, Parky had the most goals and points and Dougie was somewhere close behind. Although our team was significantly offensive we were allowing too many goals. So at the half-way point of the season our coach made his first of two significant decisions. He asked our goalie to try playing out before he asked anyone to take his place. He had someone in mind; however, the boy's father said NO HE DID NOT WANT HIS SON PLAYING GOAL! Therefore, our coach was at a crossroads more or less. He asked for volunteers with at least some experience; although I must say he was diabolical about it because he first asked if anybody had any experience. I did, because when ever my older brother's friends came over to play shinny, little Johnie was designated Goaltender! UGH! No one else had any experience. Now I was in a pickle; although my dad would be OK with this decision, he probably would not be happy because of the sudden expense of purchasing new-used equipment. I wasn't ready to abandon one of the best forward lines in the league either. However, it was done and I had sudden visions of Roger Connor no I mean acrobatic Roger Crozier dancing through my head, later that NHL season Roger would accomplish the unbelievable He would "steel" (win) the Conn Smythe Trophy for Most Valuable Player in The NHL Playoffs even though his team (the red and white Detroit Red Wings) lost! I believe this has only been accomplished twice in the history of the NHL (I think).
So here I was before I even knew what was happening, a goaltender on a team that had defensive issues. My first two games I registered shut-outs. I truly believe my team in front of me stepped up their effort to help buy some learning - curve time. None the less I now solidified my future, our coach was beginning to look like Scotty Bowman and began to develop an ego. The other teams were becoming worried also; especially the team in first, The Anglican Apollos. It was now Spring just before our playoffs I actually made our Thornhill Newspaper in the Sports section, it was an accolade; however, I was referred to as a great stumbling block-we beat the Apollos...We were ready for the playoffs! Although we didn't win that year we made the finals and lost to the Apollos (the format was 1 game ellimination).
next year would be significantly different. I would be trying out for our town's Ontario Minor Hockey Association (OMHA) team called the Thornhill Thunderbirds
TO BE CONTINUED,,,