Saturday, August 16, 2008

AMHL Thursday: Going for the Gold

(Image courtesy of Tom M. at flickr.com)

My gold medal from Lake Placid hangs from the key rack to my right. The Miracle movie poster is on the wall to my left. I’m dressed in full hockey gear (except for my helmet and skates) and pull open the door.

The play-offs don’t start until next week, but like athletes at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, I’m going for the gold this morning.

We, the Panthers, have lost four straight, including a 2–10 drubbing by the Capitals four weeks ago. But this morning, with the world taking a break from watching those other games in China to tune into AMHL-TV, we’re hammering those same Caps. We lead 5–3 after the first period.

In the second period, skating left to right across your AMHL imagination, we keep driving toward the net. My smooth-skating and high-scoring teammate Tom “Badah Bing” Barrett skates into the Caps’ zone. At the far circle, he controls the puck and skirts a Cap defenseman. Barrett skates across the crease and then pushes the puck past the sprawled goalie. Badah Boom!

The Italian judge awards Barrett a 9.75.

Later in the second period, Eric “Danke” Schoen controls a perfect pass from Dave “Mr. Hockey” Losier. Below the near circle, Schoenie strides across the crease. He falls forward but still manages to slip the puck past the netminder.

The German judge raises his scorecard for the TV audience: 9.6.

In the third period, it’s my turn to shine. Inside the Caps’ blue line I’m unguarded, waiting for a pass. As the puck approaches, I lose my balance, as if the ice between my skates has cracked to reveal an ocean. The puck slips past me as my arms flap like windmill blades and my legs wobble like I’m on a surfboard.

To my immediate left, the Capitals on the bench are laughing. So is the supposedly neutral official. I’m okay, thanks boys.

And the Caps don’t take advantage of my mistake.

I have a chance to redeem myself. Our forwards backcheck deep into our zone and create a turnover. I’m the high man in our zone, so I fill the void created by our defensively responsible left wing and join Losier on a two-on-one. Losier skates the puck up the right wing and over the Caps’ blue line, waiting for me to catch up. He dishes a puck to the where I’m headed. Below the near circle, I cradle the puck. A right-handed shooter, I have a good angle, so I hoist the puck high glove side. Not high enough, though.

But we still win. And after the game, Cap forward Peter Kokas tells me the Russian judge gave me a 9.5 for my windmill act.

No gold, but winning the bronze still places me on the podium with Barrett and Schoen.
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