Friday, August 04, 2006

AMHL: Richard Gere, Ralph Wolf, and Sam Sheepdog

The night before my Thursday morning games, I tend to adhere to my self-imposed bed time (9:00) more than on other nights. This Wednesday was no different. I was sleeping but must not have yet drifted into a deep slumber. I didn’t hear the phone ring, but I knew my wife was coming up the stairs.

My brother Chris was on the line. I glanced at the clock, which is set ten minutes ahead of the world clock in Boulder, Colorado. 10:37 the red digital letters read. 8:27 in Boulder, where Chris is the vice president of institutional advancement at Naropa University, which was founded upon Buddhist tradition. (Richard Gere, Tina Turner, Orlando Bloom: take out those checkbooks and send some money for the cause). I digress. More about Chris in AMHL Glory.

Anyway, I hadn’t talked to my younger brother in a few weeks, so next thing you know we were catching up on topics like family events, organic food, and hockey.

I told Chris it has been a good season. No injuries, no goals. Well, maybe one, but like most great goal scorers, I can’t remember them all. I proceed to tell him I still love playing because in our league, every Thursday morning is like the cartoon featuring Sam Sheepdog and Ralph Wolf (who looks like Wile E. Coyote except with a red nose).

“Mornin’ Sam,” Ralph says to his friend.

“Mornin’ Ralph,” the burly white beast replies as the two prepare to punch the red time clock stuck to the base of a thick oak tree.

Officially on the clock, Ralph tries to steal defenseless sheep, but Sam beats his friend silly before Ralph knows what has hit him. Ralph tries a different trick with a different Acme product, but Sam is there to defend the fluffy white prey. Every time. At the end of the work day, the two punch out, still buddies.

I relate a story to Chris, how in last week’s game, the Capitals kept charging my goalie, Mike Chase. Mikey won’t like being compared to a sheep, but I felt like I had to defend him. When Capital forward John Arathuzik approached the crease, I tried to steer him behind the net. Instead, I knocked into him. He wobbled and then fell to the ice.

“That was kind of aggressive,” he said without a trace of a threat.

“Yeah, it was,” I acknowledged, with only the slightest twinge of remorse, and then skated away (no penalty).

After Aaron Sherman scored the game-winning goal with 15 seconds remaining in the game, we lined up, shook hands, and left the ice…to dress and then share breakfast and laughs. John had already left but I’m pretty sure he forgave me.


Chris and I continued our conversation but ended it before the Hungarian Stew and Organic Mushroom soup his wife had prepared for him got too cold. I needed my rest for Thursday’s game too.

A little more than seven hours later, I punched in at the rink and played hard in our 10–4 victory over the Stars. No sprains, strains, or broke bones. No points either, but that’s okay.
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