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November 1st, 2011

NOTE: In this post, we skip ahead to Connecticut, but don’t worry Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island: I’m working on your posts, too.  I’m just going out of order for a bit.

Remember how the rules of the trip were simply that I be on the ice and make at least one save?  Or, more specifically, remember how I never said I needed to play an entire game?  Well, I had to use that loophole in Connecticut.

My plan had been pure genius: I would go into the belly of the Yale Whale and emerge with Connecticut checked off my list.  State number 30 would be glorious, I tell you; glorious!

The smile on my face got a big slap when I walked into the rink.

“No goalies allowed”

Ok, not really.  There was no sign, but there was another goalie.  He told me that the lunchtime skate registered its goalies ahead of time.  Both nets had already been spoken for.  Would he mind rotating, I asked?  No, he replied, and suggested that I come back some other day.

In Calgary, I capitulated, but I wasn’t on such a tight schedule back then.  I couldn’t wait another day in Connecticut, and it wasn’t clear that waiting another day would have gotten me a net anyway.  Thus, I did the only thing I could do: I played the trip card.

“See, I’m on this trip to play hockey as a goalie in every state and every province, and this was supposed to be my Connecticut stop.  I’m leaving for New York tomorrow morning.  Is there any way we could work something out?”


“Please?  As a favor from one goalie to another?”

“So you just need to play a little while?”

“Yeah, I just need to be on ice and make at least one save.”

“What if I give you my net for the first 10 minutes?”

“You’d do that?”

“Yeah, I mean, that trip does sound amazing, and we wouldn’t want Connecticut to be a black spot on the record.”

“Great!  Thanks!”

Bill, for that was the goalie’s name, looked to be pushing 50 and spoke in an assertive manner.  It was no surprise to learn that he owned a metal casting company specializing in lead.

In the dressing room, all of us skaters and goalies shared laughs and told lies of past glory.  It was a decidedly older crowd, but it’s amazing how sport has a way of melting away the years.

On the ice, I took warmups for a while and then guarded the net for real.  I could tell that something was wrong with the middle of my left skate blade, but I played hard regardless.  I was pretty solid.

The only goal came on a rebound.  The shot came from the high slot a bit left of center, near but not quite on the ice.  I flared my right leg out in a half-V near the top of the crease and made the pad save.  I directed the rebound way out to the right, but I had failed to check the destination first.  The puck went right to the stick of an attacker sitting in the face-off circle and he one-timed it.  Because of the mechanics of the half-V and my position in the paint, all I could do was dive across the crease, but the puck was in the net before I got over.

After 10 minutes of play, I slapped my stick on the ice a few times and looked at the bench where Bill was sitting.  He motioned for me to stay a bit longer, and I happily obliged.  Five more minutes went by before Bill hopped over the boards and skated to the net.

I tagged out and headed to the dressing room. It was a short skate, but it was enough to let me bag another state.

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