I step out onto the ice
Hoping that it won't ruin
The blades of my $200 skates.
I take a few tentative strides,
The ice isn't so bad, except for
The patch of grass and the long, deep crack
Down by the far goal. I skate
Around to get the feel of the ice.
It is hockey at its purest.
Outside, no boards, a few lights,
Snow banks surrounding the ice.
Only the hockey purist could enjoy
This. Wearing a T-shirt, long-sleeved T-shirt,
Sweatshirt, jersey, wind jacket, and
Sweatpants over my shin guards.
No equipment to constrict us,
No helmets to obstruct our view.
I skate, hair flying (like Guy LaFleur's golden locks)
In this pitch black starless night.
Shoot at the rickety old nets.
Our coach shows up, finally,
And we break into teams
For a game of old-fashioned shinny.
Six or seven to a side, no rules,
Checking people into the snow banks
A scene reminiscent of Canada
In the A50s. I played like the helmetless
Greats: Richard, Howe, Orr, Esposito.
Flying around the ice, sending people
Flying into the snow banks. Chunks of
White snow contrasting the pitch of
The night. I can see
The moisture coming out of my mouth.
Cold? Never. This is how hockey should
Be played. Afterward, a little one-on-one
With my coach to avoid going home. This
Is too fun. I knock him off the puck
But he gets it back. I check him into
The snowbank a la Henri "This Pocket Rocket" Richard
And skate away, laughing.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.