Well, today was a pretty good day to say the least. I got up early for a Saturday and drove up to Barrie to meet a couple that are getting married near the end of the year. They are an awesome couple, and booked me for their wedding :)
We had originally planned to meet later in the morning, but on Wednesday I was asked if I wanted to play hockey today at 1:00 by my work (which I had actually just put in my two weeks notice on Monday). Normally, I would of course be interested, but have to decline due to a prior commitment. This time was different. The game was a charity affair called “Skate for Kids” and the money paid for the games was donated to charity. But the real kicker was that some ex-NHLers were going to be playing on each team. One of the NHLers to play on my team was Paul Coffey!!!! If that doesn’t mean anything to you, let me explain. He is second all time in points for NHL defencemen, and won 4 Stanley Cups in his career, 3 with Edmonton, and his 4th with the Pittsburgh Penguins, yes, my Pittsburgh Penguins. He played a number of seasons in Pittsburgh back when I was learning to love the game. There’s still a Paul Coffey poster hanging in my parent’s basement. The stick I use, and have used for a long time, is a Sherwood 5030, with a Coffey curve. So you understand why this was a big deal to me. So I was ecstatic when the couple I met with today agreed to move up our meeting.
The game today was played at St. Micheal’s College Arena in Toronto, a rink I’d never been to before, but quite liked when I got there. The arena was what we’d call an old barn. It had the curving wood beam roof, and the ice was a bit smaller than current regulations. You’ll see in one of the pictures below what I’m talking about.
Our team had 2 defensive pairings and 3 full forward lines. I usually prefer 2 lines because of the added ice time, but I haven’t played for a couple months, so the extra rest was good. I played centre and won the opening faceoff cleanly from former NHLer Mark Osborne right back to Coffey, though he won all but one of the rest between us the rest of the game. It was pretty impressive to watch Coffey play hockey, 10 years after retirement, he still has the swift graceful stride and great hands he was known for.
At one point, I was streaking up the ice and Paul Coffey made a perfect stretch pass to me for what was basically a breakaway, I was tripped up as I got to the goal and took the net right off it’s pegs while flying over the goalie. When we got back to the bench, Coffey said “when I saw you flying up there is reminded me of playing with Gretzky…until i saw the finish” lol. I got a good laugh out of that one. I made up for that in the final minute of the game when I scored to tie the game. I had posted on Facebook last night that my goal was to get Coffey at least 1 assist and I managed to do it, so I’m pretty happy with that. The game ended in a 6-6 tie and I had a goal and an assist. I really enjoyed the experience today, even with just a tie, it couldn’t have turned out much better than it did.
Afterward in the dressing room I got a picture with Coffey and had him sign my stick, a number of other guys got him to sign things as well. He was really nice to the whole group, it was nice of him to make an effort to talk with all of us and share some banter. I know I’m not the only one who was overjoyed with the experience today, I only hope I might ever get a chance like this again.
Here are some photos I took today, some were taken from the bench mid game between shifts, some were taken either before or after the game. Sorry for the long winded post, I just had to share.
www.DustinHallPhotography.caA couple of the many banners hanging from the rafters.I love how you can see the intensity, even in a game like this one.Ya, I’m pretty sweaty, and I know my hair looks good, you don’t have to tell me :)