Sunday, February 23, 2014

Yes, Hockey Did Win

One of the fun parts about writing is going back in time and looking at some of the things you wrote about. Some things you wrote about in the past just don't seem relevant at all. Then there are things that stand the test of time and seem to make even more sense today.
In early November I wrote a post titled ,"Yesterday, Hockey Won".
A lot of people seemed to like it at the time and I received some really nice feedback on it. 
This entry is to follow up on that piece and I am happy to declare that yes, hockey did win.

In November of this past season, the team I have helped coach this season, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights u18s played team Comcast who had tragically lost a teammate just days earlier.  As I chronicled in the earlier blog post, I was amazed at the resiliency of Team Comcast as they valiantly battled and lost a heart breaking game to our team 5-4.  Obviously the results of that game were not important compared to what they were dealing with as individuals and a team mourning the loss of a close teammate. In my opinion hockey did win that day and gave the boys a platform to come together and try to begin a long hard healing process.
So how does that story relate to today?

Fast forward to this past weekend. The same two teams were locked in a tie for points and playing a deciding game in Wilkes Barre with a winner to go on to playoffs and a loser eliminated from the post season. The entire season came down to one game.
The coaching staff, parents and players from Team Comcast obviously had done a remarkable job pulling together and playing hard all season long to give themselves a chance to be in that position and continue their season. 
As the game was about to start and intensity filled the arena, I remember looking down at their goal and watching their team all kneel down in a circle with their heads down. I am sure it was to acknowledge their lost teammate. I felt myself get lost for a second in that moment. I forgot we were about to play a game. I found myself thinking of all they had been through. Thinking of those boys becoming young men and somehow learning to deal and cope with what they had gone through. Wondering how they got through it. 
Then the puck dropped.......
The game went on. Life went on.
In that earlier blog post I wrote about the healing properties that I believe exist in hockey. Never was my belief so validated than on Saturday. Team Comcast came into our team's building and managed to win the must win game 3-0. They played hard. They played smart. They played together. They deserved to win. 
Now of course I was upset for our guys. They played hard all season and wanted to win desperately. I wanted to win desperately. That is what players and coaches are supposed to do. 
But after the sting of losing wore off and I was driving home it hit me......
Maybe we all won. 
Certainly Team Comcast did. They accomplished a great deal. Those young men should be very proud of sticking together and doing what they had to after their loss of a loved one. A pain like that will never go away completely, but they played the next game. And then the next one. And then the next one.....
But I was thinking of our team too. I was looking for a positive from being eliminated the way we were and what I came up with was this; 
I hope our team learned a lesson that they can take with them the rest of their lives from our opponent this weekend.  Not just a hockey lesson, a life lesson. 
The lesson being that in life bad things can and do happen. Sometimes very tragic things. But you can't quit. You can get through things with friends, with loved ones, with family.......with teammates. No matter what comes your way stick together. 
You can be ready for the next puck to drop.....That is what I hope our guys learned.
If they did, maybe our team won too....

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