Posts Tagged ‘saskatoon’

Canadian hockey

June 23rd, 2011 9 comments

The pleasant surprise in the email far outweighed the initial disappointment.

I had emailed a guy named Adam from in an attempt to find a place to stay in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.  He wrote back: “Unfortunately we are renovating our rooms and are sleeping on the couch/living room right now,” so the couch was unavailable.  That was a bit of a let down.  However, he continued: “So, instead I’ve got a great offer. How would you like to play a real game tomorrow night? My team’s goalie just msg’d me that he can’t make it.”

Would I like to play hockey in a real game as a sub goalie?  Of course!

The little catch was that I was in Winnipeg at the time, and Saskatoon was a 9-hour drive away.  On top of that, I still had a drop-in game to play late that night.  It would be a busy 24 hours.

My Winnipeg shinny session got done around 12:30 a.m., and I finally got to sleep around 2:30 a.m.  The alarm clock’s clamor came at 8:00 a.m., and I was on the road by 9:30.

How to dry hockey gear in a dumpy (aka cheap) motel

Nine hours of driving later, including a time change and a major detour to avoid the flooded Trans-Canada Highway, I arrived in Saskatoon.

Nine hours of this...

...and sometimes this (better large)

Two hours to spare before ice time.

I was to sub-goalie for “The Eh Team”.   (What a great name!)  It was composed of an enthusiastic group of 20-somethings playing in the ASHL, the local adult rec hockey league.  Sadly, enthusiasm had not translated to much success during the season, and the team went into Wednesday night with a record of 1-8.

Before the game, the story of my trip was greeted with surprise and excitement.  “I wish I could do that,” somebody said, to which another lamented, “I wish my wife would let me do that.”

I felt good on the ice in spite of the short previous night and the long day of driving.  I think that the Winnipeg pick-up game helped, since it gave me an opportunity to calibrate to a slightly faster game than I was used to.  D2-level in the Saskatoon ASHL seemed about the same skill level as C2-level in the Minneapolis AHA (my league last winter).

Things went well.  That’s not to say that it didn’t get a bit hairy at times: I was making virtually all of my first saves, but I got burned by a couple of shots off rebounds and front-of-the-net scrambles.  Still, whether it was the clarity of instinct that comes from mental exhaustion, the large bolus of coffee I had downed, or my freshly sharpened skates, I made enough saves to not lose the game.  (Or at least that’s what I like to tell myself.  Really though, it was the rest of the team’s offensive and defensive talents that saved the day.)

That’s right: we won!  The team’s record improved to 2-8, which was cause for much celebration.  It helped that a beer cart came around to the dressing room selling refreshments, which was something that I had never seen while playing in the States. (Oh, Canada.)

The Eh team

Team photo to celebrate the win, eh?

My first game as a sub goalie in Canada was great fun.