My wooden Sherwood hockey stick stands guard behind our back door and, on occasion, I'll grab it and a tennis ball and head out to the driveway to fire a few shots at the workshop or the foundation. I'm not certain of its age, but it's not new. Do they still sell wood sticks? In green felt marker, at the top of the shaft before the black, unraveling knob of tape, are block letters spelling the name T. Kerr. Tim was my favourite player of the time, taking over from the man who sported the same number twelve with the Flyers before him, Gary Dornhoefer.
Most waking winter hours of my childhood were spent emulating the heroes of my youth playing street hockey. Do kids play street hockey anymore? I can honestly say I've yet to see it in my nearly two years in Saint John.
My fantasy hockey team name is a tribute to the "team" my friends and I formed - the Armdale Executioners. I still have the old blue Duo-tang with our inked logo on the front containing the loose leaf that held our self-recorded stats. Few of us had the money necessary to enroll us in organized hockey, so we gave ourselves a name and would play like-minded groups of kids from adjacent areas, most of whom were playing some level of "real" hockey. This gave us the hunger needed to show that, even though our parents didn't chauffeur us to various rinks, we could play too.
My best friend, John, his brother Jeff and I were the main components of the team. John and I often took on teams sporting lopsided numbers just to have the chance to play. Sometimes we lost, but more often than not, we didn't. I have the papers to prove it.
Akin to Forrest Gump-like peas and carrots, John and I had an uncanny ability to compliment each other. Once a school year, our junior high gym teacher, Mr. Mackenzie, someone who avoided putting weapons into teenage boys' hands, would break out the plastic sticks and netted goals and break us up into floor hockey teams.
One year, for the first and only time, we were put on the same team. Teams were then divided into three-minute shifts. We were finally placed on the same shift for the final three minutes of the class and we made the most of that time. Before Mr. Mackenzie's whistle, Webster, a classmate we often played against in our neighbourhood, told the opposing players to "watch out for John and Kevin."
Every time we took control of the ball, we scored. I don't recall exactly what our total was, but it was legendary. We knew this would only last three minutes and we played frenzied, focused hockey. The other team didn't have a chance. With time winding down, I set up behind the goal line to the left of the net. One opposing player pressured me while the other two covered John, leaving our centre open in front of the goal. I wristed the ball over their defence and watched it ricochet off Darren's stomach and into the net.
The next year Mr. Mackenzie did not put us together when floor hockey came up on his schedule.
That was more than thirty years ago. Peas and carrots are a less-familiar dish these days too.