The latest war wound

10 October 2000
Last night was my first Division C game, and it was pretty wild. I arrived at the rink early to watch Excite1 play Blue Martini at 8:55, since I have friends on both teams. The skill level for both teams ranged from hotdogger to whoa-oa-oa-oo!, but everyone seemed happy to be there. I immediately thought: this is going to be fun.

The team spirit was palpable. Blue Martini had beautiful custom jerseys (actually, I hear they have both home and away versions), and most players wore their network logins on the back. Excite1's team jerseys hadn't arrived by gametime, so they wore a hodgepodge of dark jerseys, some with masking-taped numbers on the back. Very cool.

My team's jerseys also had not arrived in time for the game (hopefully they'll be ready by next week), so we wore white, while Excite2's players wore dark. It was obvious from the first drop of the puck that this game was going to be faster than the previous one. It was disorienting and exhilarating at the same time. I probably should have felt useless out there compared to all the Tuesday night A leaguers, but I can honestly say I didn't—even though I obviously can't play as well as they can.

Instead, I just tried to make myself useful on every shift (there actually weren't that many, since we had three full forward lines). Mostly that seemed to be by getting in front of the puck carrier so he couldn't see his teammates to pass or the goal to shoot, with the occasional outcome being a blocked shot or an intercepted pass. Once I blocked a shot with my shin pads, but on another occasion I wasn't as well positioned, and I took a slapshot to the gap between my shin pads and the top of my skate. It hurt immediately, so skated off yelling "LEFT WING!"

I sat on the bench for about 90 seconds before the stinging became unbearable and tears started running down my face. I whacked my face sheild with my stick to keep myself from losing it entirely, repeating through gritted teeth THERE IS NO CRYING IN HOCKEY! THERE IS NO CRYING IN HOCKEY! Collin came off the ice and stated the obvious: I needed to get back on ASAP. Not just to get my mind off the pain, but to keep the circulation going and the swelling down. Unfortunately, there was a long shift before my turn came up again.

I did eventually skate one or two more shifts, and that definitely got my mind off the pain, at least temporarily. We ended up losing 4-3, but nobody swore or threw a tantrum or criticized anyone else. Quite the contrary: there were congratulations all around.This is *definitely* going to be fun.

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