Archive for April, 2014

Memories on Ice

Posted: April 29, 2014 in Hockey

It was just over seven months ago that I was walking into Olympic View Arena for one of the evaluation skates prior to the 2013-14 Greater Seattle Hockey League season.  I had only been skating in hockey gear for nine months and this was going to be the first time I had ever been on ice other than that of the public rink in Everett.  I had never felt adrenaline quite like what was going through me on that night.

A week-and-a-half later, I was getting the email from Dean Willard that I – along with my good friend Dave Sheehan – had been drafted into Night Owls Hockey.  Simply based on reading that initial contact I knew I was a lucky guy.  I’ve worked within top-notch organizations (Brownfield Promotions and the Silvertips) and knew that this was going to be an extremely well run, respectful, professionally approached situation I suddenly found myself in.  It was awesome enough knowing I was going to start playing hockey, but by the time I was done with that email I couldn’t wrap my mind around all of the excitement I immediately had.

It was a long wait for those few weeks until our first game rolled around on Monday night, October 7th.  I began the day in Spokane and finished it celebrating a 9-1 victory.  I will never forget being on the first defensive pairing; on the ice for the opening face-off and ending the shift with my first ever assist.  From that night on it would be one hell of a ride.

There were many ups and downs both personally and as a team for those first couple of months, but once we got back to it after the long holiday break we took off.  Winning isn’t the only thing in beer league hockey, but it certainly is awesome when it happens.  I could easily go back through and relive every game, but I will spare you and save that for a later time.

The season wound down with us finishing atop our division and carrying all kinds of momentum into the playoffs.  We started off beyond strongly in that opening game on the main ice in Everett and followed it up with a solid, heated win over our most hated rivals: the Rebels.  We knew then that we were into the championship, but had no idea who the opponent was going to be.  Of course, it would be our nemesis.

There is almost literally no way to describe what transpired over this past week.  We only had to win one game to take the title.  They had to beat us twice and accomplished what they had to in the first game when we came out flat and got straight-up beat.  We headed into the second game with everything on the line and staring down the reality of having our shortest, most depleted bench of the season.  Thankfully, Chris Landman and Ryan Reece-Beltrand were able to fight through their injuries and helped us salvage a nearly full bench.

Now, it’s easy to say the game that transpired was awesome since we ended up winning the championship.  But, seriously, that will probably be the most incredible game I am ever going to play in my life, and I intend to play for many years to come.  The pure guts and determination from everyone on the team led to majority of us playing our greatest games of the season if not our lives.  The energy used up, the last little bit of strength that everyone had left being exerted with guys diving all over the place to block passes and shots as we faced the extra attacker for the final two minutes pinned in our own zone.  There truly is no way to put it into words.

The post-game huddle as we mobbed around our goalie Mark Van Der Lee, the traditional championship team photo, the handshake line knowing we just bested our foes in the intense rivalry – those are great moments and memories, but getting the mugs in our hands was when the accomplishment really set in.  They are a physical, tangible piece to remind us from now until the end of our lives of what we have all accomplished.   They make everything taste better and there is absolutely no way you can take a drink from one without getting a smile on your face.

It has been a brilliant ride.  I can’t thank Jason Goscinski enough for being an awesome leader as our team’s Captain.  I learned a lot starting the season back on defense alongside Jesse Komenski.  It was an absolute thrill finally getting paired up on a line for the second half of the season with Dave and Katie Markeson.  We all got some pretty brutal songs stuck in our heads before games thanks to Derek Moore.  Overall, I’m beyond thankful for the lifelong memories I’ll carry with me out of this season of sharing the ice with Gideon Burt, Mike Morasch, Zach and Zane Vakerics, Steve Weiss, Eric Visser, and Thomas Sommers.  I also will never overlook those who played key roles by helping us out as part of the roster throughout the season including Rob Dillon, Tom Mollison, Vern Francissen, Dani Miller and Mark Green.

This experience ultimately culminated in the way we all hoped it would; the way we all busted our asses for.  I have found it is true that just because you wear the same sweater doesn’t make you a team.  You become one by playing for one another and laying everything on the line for the betterment of the team.  I didn’t play any sports growing up as I was saving myself for racing (and we can see how well that turned out for me).  On second thought, maybe it did work out.  As a result, I have never felt anything like this before and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

I have never felt adrenaline quite like what’s going through me on this night.