Eastern Passage Coliseum

Except for a lone light in the office, the Eastern Passage Coliseum is quiet and dark. The star player is tucked snugly in bed dreaming of the games yet to be played. His new sticks are leaning upright in the corners at the end of the hallway right outside his bedroom door. I’m surprised the sticks aren’t under the covers with him. They’re ready to be grabbed though just four or five steps after he hits the floor. Within less than a minute of waking, he’ll be starting to warm up or be looking for a game.

The excitement won’t be quite as intense now that grand-papa has made it back to Sorel, home of Stanley Cup champion Marc-André Fleury. The couple of days prior to his departure it’s hockey pandemonium in our family room. Grand-papa Raymond and Noah are great rivals on the makeshift rink. The most uninhibited laughter booms throughout the house as they wheel about the cork floor looking to exploit a moment of miscalculation, searching for an opening to sail the puck through the goal.

This is magic time for them, a foundation for admiration, wonder and their ever growing love for each other. With each drop of the puck, the fun filled excitement pumps our little boy’s heart to bursting. His imagination blooms in the competitive atmosphere inventing new team names, rules and fake outs.

The Curious George motif on the just-after-Christmas sticks that maman found is cause for delight. George is a favourite literary and cartoon scamp for Noah and Nellie both. These sticks are about twice the size as the souvenir sticks we had been playing with previoulsy. This is a big help to the 50 plus gang as we no longer have to do the Quasimodo. We can nearly play in a natural stance.

About 30 days downstream from buying our family membership at Cole Harbour Place, I’ve finally made it to the cardio fitness centre. We’ve been swimming and skating several times but this was the first time for me on the machines. It was a modest 35 minute workout to get things rolling. I went shortly after the kids hit the sack last night. Noah wanted me to stay home. I told him, “With some exercising I’ll be in better shape for hockey.” That’s all he needed to be sold. He now wants to start an exercise program when he gets up in the morning. That will be a great way for us to begin the day.

I’m not sure what teams will be taking to the ice here later today. The traditional Penguins and Canadiens are losing favour of late to the likes of the Crabs, the Lobsters and the Whales. We’ll have to see what the day brings and what team selects me from the draft. Here’s hoping that I’ll go in the first round to a contender.

I’ll have to be careful that I don’t get bamboozled out on the ice. He’s now adopted one of grand-papa’s tricks. He calls out, “Look over there it’s a monkey.” Must be the Curious George thing again but there’s no monkey around. He just side steps me as I’m looking up at the ceiling and smokes a goal right through my legs.

Another favourite is the delay tactic. Grand-papa made me wise to this one before he left. After a few gruelling periods of end to end action we need to wind a game down. A favourite means is the ‘next goal wins’ clause. Now, in response to this call Noah slows down the action, gracefully stickhandling in an unhurried, unflustered paean to near inertia. He avoids the next goal, rags the time around the floor like a puck and extends play until that awful, inevitable final siren sings out.

Raymond had a sweet move just as he was leaving yesterday. He pulled out a small piece of carry on luggage and laid it flat on the floor. He positioned himself behind it and started pushing it forward while calling out, “Watch out, Zamboni coming through, watch out.” Noah’s a Zamboni nut waving madly at the drivers as they glide by. He found this to be very funny as did I.

We’ll be looking forward to Raymond’s next visit when hockey fever will sure to be raised several notches. In the interim I’ll take up the slack and make sure that Noah and I keep to our training regimen. We’ve got to be ready to play and to cheer on the Canadian Men’s Olympic Hockey team, getting unveiled later today, when they take to the ice in February.

Noah has just arrived in the office – a big smile on his face, two hockey sticks in hand. Apparently I’m going to be the goalie and he’s going to be the player. Also just in case there is any doubt, Noah is going to win.

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