The United States Hockey team beat the Canadians in a preliminary game at the Olympics in Vancouver. Quite exciting, to be sure, for a hockey family as we are. It is only fitting then, to speak today of our own miracles on ice we have been experiencing during this hockey season of ours.
This is Michael's sixth year of hockey. He began one year after we moved here, at a very old age in 4th grade. Never having skated before, he was placed with a bunch of little 5 year olds, and struggled through learning how to skate, hold, a stick, and manage a puck, all at once. He was determined, had a great "can-do" attitude, and never gave up, no matter how tough it was. By the following season, he was forced into a competitive team, and all hand holding was gone. It was do or die out on the ice. And again, with a positive attitude always in check, Michael gave it his all, and fought for his place on the team.
Though we do not often see that positive attitude at home, he continues to have such an attitude in the locker room and out on the ice. He has remained a positive leader and role model to his fellow team mates and younger comrades. He has proudly worn the Assistant Captain mark on his team jersey. He has scored many a goal this season, which up until now had only been a handful throughout all years combined. He has done his time in the penalty boxes...and yes, we are proud of that!
Despite his years of untiring positiveness, we have never been on a winning team. Until this year.
We have had the best season of hockey ever. The third tier Bantam team, with no one expecting much of us, free from all Hockey Association politics, away from the hockey elitists, and with the best group of boys and parents ever compiled in the history of this planet, and a wonderful coach that focuses on development of skills and of character . Mix all those together in a chilly ice arena and put us anywhere in Minnesota, and you've got yourself one awesome, trophy winning team!
We have been in 5 tournaments this year. In the first two, we just barely lost our first games, but then went on to win Consolation Champs for each, awarding us our first trophies.
The last 3 tournaments? We went all the way, baby. Winning Grand Champions at each. First Place! Us! I have felt like we are The Little Engine That Could, all season long. Winning one game after the next. And those that we lose, taking it all in stride, shrugging it off, and moving on to the next. It has been fabulous. It has been wonderful. It has been rewarding. For all of us....young and old. It has just been so much fun!
We did decide to rope Grandma and Grandpa C into coming to all of the tournament games from now on. Not that we are superstitious or anything, but we have won each tournament game and resulted in Grand Champions each time they are present in the stands. Coincidence? Yes, probably. But just in case, we don't want Grandma and Grandpa letting the whole team down now, do we? But seriously, it has been nice to have had so many games in the cities this season allowing them to be present at such very exciting games (our last championship game was won in the last 3 seconds!!!!). The tournament in Maple Grove brought other family members out to cheer us on, as we were only mere minutes away from Bob's brother's family's house.
This has been a very sweet year, and for the first time since we began this hockey journey, I am not looking forward to it's long end. This is sports the way it was meant to be for kids.....simply fun, educational, and character refining. Without all the political garbage and unnecessary stress of excellence at any cost which we have have experienced in previous years (which just completely sucks all the fun out, by the way), I wish this could go on forever. And with Michael still considering this to be his last year of hockey, it's even a stronger desire to see this season continue just a tad bit longer.
We have been ranked 4th in our district(out of 15, I think), which puts us in very good standing for playoffs which are beginning next week. We get to bypass the first few rounds due to our excellent standings, and will begin playing the second week of March. This will be the last hurrah for our wonderful team of boys/coaches/parents/fans. If you listen hard enough, you just may hear our collective cheers reaching your ears!