Friday, June 15, 2007

AMHL Thursday: Attitude of Gratitude

“Thanks to my teammates. I couldn’t have done it without them.”

Every NHL player who won an award last night likely said something like that during his acceptance speech at the awards show. (I didn’t see the show because it was aired way past my bedtime)

About twelve hours before the NHL gala commenced in Toronto, off-ice officials at NHL headquarters were consulted to award assists on an AMHL Avalanche goal against the Panthers.

I had let loose a wrist shot from the right point, and teammate Tim Matthews tipped the puck past the goalie. The referee skated to the scorekeeper’s hut to record the points. He didn’t write my number on the score sheet.

“What about 17?” the scorekeeper/referee’s kid protested. “He was on the point.”

“Yeah, everybody was congratulating him,” the official photographer said. “He should get his point.”

Thanks to Timmy for the tipped shot. Thanks to the photographer, who would later tell me she and the scorekeeper were like the supervisors in Toronto, overruling the on-ice officials, and the scorekeeper.

I have high praise for my netminder, Dan Barros, for his stellar performance. On at least two occasions, I stepped up at the blue line to intercept an oncoming forward, only to miss, thus leaving my beleaguered backstop to fend for himself. Nice work, Danny!

Thanks to my teammates who couldn’t make yesterday’s game. Chad Mikkelson, for example, was on a business trip in Shanghai, no doubt trying to find an Internet radio station that carries AMHL action. With only two players on our bench, I found myself playing forward in the third period.

A loose puck lay flat between the circles. I calmly—but quickly—snapped a shot without aiming. Five hole goal! I must have been channeling, on a subconscious level, the advice Chris Howell had given me during the second period: lower my right hand (I shoot right) on the stick when shooting. Thanks to my coach and chauffer (Chris also drove me to work) and congratulations on his Bobby Orr-like diving goal!

Shortly after my first goal, I was between the circles in the offensive zone, watching the Panthers trying to clear the puck from their zone. When a teammate kept the puck in at the left point, I reversed direction and skated toward the net. Dave Krinsky, now to my left, carried the puck deep into the zone as I put myself in position for a pass or rebound. Krinsky shot…a pad save…puck on my stick…I pushed it inside the right post. Thanks, Dave!

Content with the 7–3 victory in the locker room, David Losier, who scored a goal of his own and assisted on the other six, said to me, “I don’t think you have to go to camp now.” Thanks, Mr. Hockey!

I’m not going to win the Hart or the Norris, but thanks to my other teammates: Mike DeLeo—for the pat on the back before the game—and Bill Chioffi—for the “helluva game, Jimmy!”

I couldn’t have done it without you guys.
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