racing JH for the puck

Me racing JH for the puck

MG and I celebrate scoring a goal

MG and I celebrate after scoring a goal

my sister makes a mean goalie

Mommy makes a mean goalie!

MG and JH face off

MG and JH face off

MG on a breakaway

MG on a breakaway

Lisa defends the crease

My sister defends the crease against her son as daylight fades

29 August 2000
When I first got all my hockey gear, I was so excited that I called my sister to tell her. She was busy doing something in the kitchen, so she put my niece on the phone. Me: "Do you know what hockey is?" MG: "Oh yes. Me and Mommy and Daddy and JH play hockey in the driveway all the time. I got hit with the puck once in the face!" I was shocked; I had no idea that my soon-to-be-5-year-old niece was even aware of hockey, much less that she played all the time.

Needless to say, I've been looking forward to the 5th birthday that would bring me to Baltimore for a driveway scrimmage. I packed my gloves (even though they took up about half the space in my carry-on bag) and the hot weather/rough surface street hockey puck that I'd picked up at Big 5 Sporting Goods back in June and never used.

Yesterday we finally got a chance to play a little 2-on-2. I took the longest stick, which was still a good 4 or 5 inches below my chin and which had a blade curved for a right-handed shot. I started out by drawing goal lines and creases with purple chalk, which totally confounded my sister and her kids. Apparently they usually count it as a goal if the puck crosses the goal line at all. (As I discovered tonight, when the driveway was too wet for chalk, this just encourages my 7 year-old nephew to whack at the puck from center "ice" all the time instead of taking it in close for a finesse shot. I preferred the game with the creases.)

Both JH and MG admired my gloves and wanted to look "professional" as well, so they took turns wearing JH's lacrosse gloves. They were also thrilled to be playing with an actual puck rather than a Fisher-Price facsimilie, and MG was eager to trade in her Fisher-Price stick for a real one. It was so cute.

JH was quite good at fighting for the puck, which made for a lot of fun and friendly competition between us. Less fun was when he'd just stand there with the puck and dare me to come at him so he could shoot the puck around me. If I didn't go in, he'd stand there forever (and drive me and my sister nuts in the process). I'd either have to break the "don't follow the guy behind the net" rule (which I felt applied in this case), or wait until my sister yelled "JUST START MOVING, J!!!!"

The good news is that even when he shot the puck against the boards (the cement wall that bordered the driveway) and past me, I could usually win the ensuing race for it because of my longer reach (and stick). After nearly running JH over on my way to the net a couple times (once I almost took us both down), however, I slacked off just a bit because we weren't wearing pads.

I still managed to whack JH in the shin one time by accident (I suppose A would have been proud of me for "going in hard"), so while I was down around DC today I bought him some shin guards. (They're soccer style because that's a sport he actually plays competitively, and he didn't already have a set.) Since Mattie was preoccupied with the gloves and doesn't play lacrosse, I bought her the smallest pair of hockey gloves I could find (at a place called The Hockey Stop, though it turns out that around here even the sporting goods chain stores carry hockey equipment). I also bought myself a stick that's more my size (and with a left-curved blade).

Tonight's game was shortened due to rain (and as I mentioned, we were shooting at long goal lines rather than confined creases this time, so there was less stickhandling and more shooting from the redline), but everyone got to try out his or her new equipment. MG did pretty well with her new gloves on; she even scored a goal on my sister. This gave her the opportunity to try out the closed-fist "glove shake" that I taught her last night (and which I think finally made sense to her when she realized how difficult it is to high-five someone when you're both wearing hockey gloves).

JH was thrilled with his shin guards, and kept asking me to whack him just to test them out. When I'd do it accidentally during a scuffle, he'd yell "that didn't hurt!" :) My new stick was marked "Featherweight", but I think it weighs more than the one I use at home (and certainly more than the one I used yesterday). It felt enormous. It gave me more reach, of course, but the extra weight made it harder to swing around quickly. I bet it'd be more at home on the ice than on the driveway. I thought I would be, too, but a surprising number of skills transferred from skates to sneakers. Most importantly, it was fun—and it helped burn off the Krispy Kreme donuts they have out here!

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