Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Deserve's got nothing to do with it: my first goal

In the spirit of there being no "I" in T-E-A-M ...

In my dreams last night, my first goal in an organized hockey game went something like this: I scoop up the puck at our own goal line, skate six laps around the rink while making each player on the other team miss several times each, then stop at the rink office to chat up the cute rink girls.

After growing weary of their adulation, I take the puck back to the bench, stop again for a tasty vanilla latte with whole milk and cut loose with a cannon of a 100-foot wrister that deftly pinballs off three defenders before drilling a hole in the goalie -- by which I mean tunneling through his pads and internal organs -- and landing with a 'thonk' in the net.

In reality, it went down like this on Sunday: One of my teammates carried the puck deep into the other team's zone and took a shot that bounced off the goalie. The goalie subsequently flubbed catching the rebound. As it happened, I just happened to be standing just outside the crease minding my own bees wax and suddenly there's a puck bouncing around in front of me. I thought I heard a whistle but just to be safe tapped it across the goal line -- tap being a charitable word -- and got the goal.

I don't even remember skating to the goal line. Honest to God, I have no fucking idea how I ended up there.

There's also this: I was sitting in what passes for a locker room before the game talking to the goalie for the team we were playing. He was telling me he had left his bag outside and it had gotten soaked or a cat had pissed on it -- something to that effect -- when I noticed a giant cricket jumping around in his bag. I actually mentioned it to him in an unusual display of pre-game courtesy and even joked that I hoped the cricket would start hopping around inside his pants at an inopportune moment.

So, for all I know, I got a goal because the goalie was distracted by a cricket trying to give him an in-game hummer.

But a goal is a goal and as anyone who plays hockey knows, Clint Eastwood's got it right: sometimes deserve's got nothing to do with it. You do everything right and things go wrong. You do everything wrong -- and I spent most of yesterday's game doing just that (more on that later this week) -- and something goes right. Twelve players suited up for us yesterday and I think it's fair to say 11 of them deserved that goal more than I did. I can't explain, but I'll take it.

As cliche as this sounds, the best part of the day is that my team won. We won our last game of the spring season and our first game of the fall season. We've still got a long way to go in terms of figuring out the game, but after a brutal 11-game losing streak, there's progress, which is simply very awesome for a bunch of dudes mostly over 40 and who are mostly new to the game. The goal this season is to make sure everyone gets their first goal.

And the cost of adding a 'first goal' to my staple of drinking stories? In terms of time, it has been 19 months since my first skating lesson. In terms of money, I've probably spent about $2,000 in skating lessons, hockey clinics, stick-times, league fees, public skates and equipment.

Even without a garbage goal, it's been worth every cent.


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