My gear hanging in the closet at the Holiday Inn North Vancouver. The new shoulder pads are on the right (with elbow pads hanging off them).

25 May 2001
I can't believe I haven't written about hockey since May 7! Right now I'm sitting in the Vancouver airport, waiting for one of my tournament teammates to arrive. I don't know what she looks like, but I imagine she'll be carrying a big bag. :)

I got in earlier this morning, rented a car (actually a Ford Explorer), and went to the Cyclone Taylor Sports store to kill some time between my flight and Christina's. They had the women's shoulder pads I wanted—in my size!—so I bought them and a roll of sock tape. The whole transaction, from trying on the pads to paying for my goods, took about 5 minutes. Not much time killed. I got a massive allergy attack as soon as I got off the plane, though, so I decided to look for a grocery store at which I could buy a box of Puffs. (I'm still sneezing and stuffy an hour later, even though I took a second Zytec. I wonder what I'm allergic to up here?) I also got some bottled water and looked for some Band-Aid Blister blockers (no luck). Ha, a quest!

After trying a pharmacy and another Safeway in search of the Band-Aids, I walked up Marine Dr. (er, I think; the shops all had Marpole in the name, but I think that was the name of the neighborhood rather than the street) looking for a Walgreen's or its Canadian equivalent. Nothing. Zillions of noodle shops, though, and a really excellent bakery. I popped in to eye the selection and ended up buying a couple chocolate pastries and a cheese and vegetable roll. Everything was excellent. I don't know the name of the place, but it's on the same side of the street as the Safeway, next to a pet grooming shop.

Anyway, back to hockey. Monday before last (the 14th), we ACTUALLY BEAT EXCITE! We haven't done that since early last season. The score was 2-1, and it was an *excellent* game. I figured that I wouldn't do much good if I concentrated on offense, so instead I made it my mission to defend like a maniac. I was covering someone every time they were in our end, often literally—I think I may have driven Brian Foster to distraction, actually... which was the point.

I was often matched up against Mark Hydar, who's quite fast (but who isn't on Excite?), very strong, and a hard shot to boot. On one occasion he'd gotten a few steps away from me at the point, and the puck came right to him. I saw him wind up for the slapshot and sort of slowly glided in front of him like a tin duck at a shooting gallery. The shot hit my shin pad (thank god), though for a second I thought maybe it'd hit my leg directly it stung so much. The puck bounced off me and right back onto Hydar's stick, but he didn't try for a second slap.

I swear every time I messed somebody up or frustrated them or blocked a shot, I got more aggressive and persistent. Talk about positive reinforcement. It was thrilling to win, and to feel like I directly contributed.

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