Sunday, March 04, 2007

Of Mosquitos and Men: CCYH Meets AMHL

Saturday, March 3, 2007

7:00 a.m. At this time three days ago, AMHL players Mike Moore, Rich Perkins, and T.J. Umina were thirty minutes into their respective Wednesday morning games. Today, they’re wearing skates, gloves, and helmets. They have their sticks but aren’t playing for the AMHL Canadiens, Rangers, or Sharks at Concord Valley Sports arena; they’ve switched into coaching mode here at Pratt Rink on the campus of Concord’s Middlesex School, home ice of the Concord Carlisle Youth Hockey (CCYH) Mosquito program. Moore, Perkins, and Umina have sons between the ages of six and eight, and their youngsters, as well as the other nearly two dozen participants, push pucks around the rink in preparation for the season finale: a full-ice scrimmage.

The AMHL photographer is here to distribute photo pucks she produced after capturing last week’s action and to take pictures of the four or five Mosquitos absent at the penultimate session.

Unlike AMHL games, which tend to attract few fans, this Saturday’s session has drawn a big crowd. Across the gleaming ice surface and above the far boards opposite the players’ benches, hockey moms and dads chat with each other, clutching their coffee cups and perhaps ponder the possibility of their kids scoring a goal.

Mike Moore, who scored for his AMHL Canadiens on Wednesday, sheds his jacket to reveal zebra stripes. He’ll perform perfunctory referee duties as his AMHL brethren, Perkins and Umina, provide on-ice encouragement to the pint-sized players.

Clad in either maroon or white CCYH sweaters and topped with caged helmets, the Mosquitos swarm around the puck. Boys and girls chase after the disc—sometimes falling and sprawling, but always picking themselves up— to pursue the vulcanized prize.

“Do they play like you?” Terry Cunningham, a Middlesex School employee and Mosquito team manager, asks me.

“Sadly, yes.” I joke, thinking of the fun I have every Thursday morning, my black hockey pants a magnet for ice shavings. (As regular readers are well-aware, I’m a human Zamboni. I’m not a big goal-scorer like Mike Moore.)

Little Ian Moore, wearing #29 on the back of his maroon sweater, scores a goal. The buzzer sounds, signaling the end of another three-minute shift, so Ian skates to the bench.

I bang on the glass behind him. “He shoots he scores!” I say.

He flashes me a wide smile that beams through his metal cage. An image I won’t soon forget.
The AMHL photographer has the digital images she needs to produce the photo pucks for those who weren’t here last time, so it’s time for us to leave the rink and make our weekly pilgrimage to our favorite Dunkin’ Donuts.

As we pass the posh post-game gathering place officially known as the Curtis Lounge, I notice a sight familiar to any self-respecting AMHL player. Fuchsia and orange-colored boxes are stacked atop each other on a table. I pause to pay respect to the spherical treats in those Dunkin’ Donuts boxes but don’t dare enter the room where players and parents will soon convene to relive the fun they’ve had this season.
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