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Tag: hockey

Top five Christmas 2013 memories

Zurich.

Zurich.

Last Christmas 2013 was amazing. Fantastic. Superuber wonderful. It should have been: my husband and I went on our honeymoon to Europe. We went to Switzerland and Norway. Today I’m listing our top five trip moments.

 #1. Having our luggage arrive with us on our numerous flights across Canada and Europe

I’ve flown both Air Canada and WestJet and both carriers have managed to screw up my baggage on various North American trips. Imagine my surprise when our bags made it to our destination in Oslo, Norway despite plane delays.

Our flight originated in Zurich, Switzerland and we had to switch planes in Berlin. The Air Berlin flight was late leaving Zurich and we thought the gate for our connecting Air Berlin flight to Oslo would be nearby.

Nope. Not a chance. We had to change terminals!

We had about 15 minutes to get from Point A to Point B and a bunch of smoking and slow-walking airport people in front of us. We also had to go through security…again. With a long line ahead of us it was all we could do not to push through to the front. But we made it on the plane, keeping the reputation of polite Canadians intact but imagining the worst for our luggage.

To see it roll down the conveyor belt in the Norwegian airport was an awesome sight.

#2. The Spengler Cup

I play hockey and watch hockey: both NHL and the Spengler. In my twenties in Nova Scotia

Vaillant Arena in Davos. Look at those beams.

Vaillant Arena in Davos. Look at those beams.

we would tune into the European hockey tournament Boxing Day and I would think how silly the uniforms were with all the advertising on them. But it didn’t take away from the play under the magnificent cathedral ceilings of the Vaillant Arena in Davos, Switzerland.

Being in the arena was a dream come true. I got to see lots of good hockey and enjoyed seeing the Red Army take to the ice. Alex Radulov is a fantastic player even if he gets tired after 30 seconds of having the puck.

#3. The view from our friends’ house

Two generous friends allowed us to stay at their beautiful mountain home in Fanas, Switzerland while they were away for Christmas. Fanas is spectacular and photos don’t do it justice. We spent New Year’s Eve there and it was a sight to see (and hear).

View in Fanas.

That’s just one side of the amazing view.

Fireworks went off up and down the valley and from peak to peak for miles. The sky was illuminated from 11 p.m. until almost dawn. Church bells rang out not just at midnight but for hours and hours. The whole experience was just like out of a story book.

 #4. Seeing friends

I worked as a sport reporter at the Vancouver 2012 Olympic/Paralympic Games in Whistler. I met and lived with people from around the world. In Switzerland and Norway I got the chance to meet up with some European friends again, a month before the 2014 winter games.

 #5. Norway

Family_Lines_2013_three

In Oslo at the Akershus Castle and Fortress. This part sort of reminded me of the Halifax Citadel.

I felt at home in Norway as did my husband. The country’s capital, Oslo, is easy to get around in and there’s much to see and do. We took buses to museums and the subway to the outskirts of the city where there’s a quaint and cozy restaurant called the Frognerseteren. I had a delicious meal of fish cakes (which aren’t like Maritime fish cakes but actually pancakes with fish in them) and my husband had an elk burger. We had our lunch beside a roaring bright fire. Truly a meal (and price) to remember.

This Christmas will be decidedly duller. Calgary is home though and we have lots of friends here even though we’ll be far away from family.

Merry Christmas everyone.

My “Stanley Cup” goal

Hockey game.

Fort Smith versus Fort Simpson at the Moose Hide Mama tournament.

I love hockey. Playing hockey, that is. I like watching the NHL. Especially during playoffs. I can imagine the thrill of each goal that brings a team closer to the ultimate shiny target – the Stanley Cup. I’d like to think I know how it feels to be playing your best and out for the win.

My first hockey team ever was the Fort Smith Fury. I had played hockey with my family on the pond growing up in Nova Scotia but it wasn’t until I went to the Northwest Territories that I ended up on a formal team. It was in Smith I learned how to put on shoulder pads and hockey socks and poke check.

I was a winger my first year. My second year I moved to centre – a good position for a puck chaser. Centre is awesome. You’re half forward and half defence. You skate a lot, which I liked because of the exercise, but you also have to have a good idea about what’s going on around you. It’s your job to feed the wingers (and the points) pucks to get the goals. As centre I did put some pucks in the basket but one stands out for me.

Every year Smith went to a tournament in Fort Simpson, a town about an eight-hour drive west. Simpson is a cool place where the Mackenzie and Liard rivers meet and the Moose Hide Mama’s tourney was so much fun. The hockey was good and the party afterwards included the whole town. It was worth the slog along snow-covered dirt highways with nothing to look at but trees and trees and trees.

Fort Smith made the trip to Simpson as did Hay River. Teams from Yellowknife never seemed to make it to anything not in Yellowknife. Smith and Simpson had a friendly joking relationship on and off the ice. Hay River was different. They were our rivals and always seemed to beat us in this tournament and others. Not this year.

Smith had sent a tiny team and we lost one of our players due to an injury. That meant we only had two subs, one for defence and one for forward. We had managed to win most of our games on Friday and Saturday but heading into the final game on Sunday against Hay River we were tired. We had played a lot of hockey in the previous days and, of course, attended the party the night before. Oh well. Time to hit the ice and win.

The first period went OK. Not smoothly but we were getting into it. Then came second period. This is where we had to hold our own. I was on the ice playing centre when the puck was shot from our side down the rink. Icing would be called – maybe. I was taught to skate hard after that puck in case the call was waved off.

Hockey team.

Fort Smith waiting to play in Fort Simpson.

I was deep in Hay River’s zone when the goalie took several side steps out of her net, stopped the puck and…passed it to me.

That’s when I started to feel the pressure. I had an empty net. A wide, wide open net. If I didn’t score on this then I would be scarred for life. I would never live it down if I missed and I did not want to miss this opportunity.

I had to do it. I had to shoot the puck now. For all I knew there were Hay River players about to pounce on me and take away this golden moment. I let the puck go and…she scores!

I did it.

That was one of my most memorable hockey moments. That goal buoyed my spirits and gave me a shot of adrenaline for a few minutes. Then I started to flag as I got tired again. We called the third period of that game zombie hockey. We were so exhausted that we were like zombies. Instead of looking for brains, we looked for the puck.

My goal was not the winning goal, there were far more talented women on the team who took up the score. Despite the game of living dead hockey, we won and were a bunch of happy ghouls.

What goes wear in hockey?

Arena.

Not a great hockey shot but shows the inside of the Fort Smith Centennial Arena.

This past May the arena in Fort Smith, N.T. was damaged by fire. As in any small town the rink is the hub of the community and the blaze left a hole in the village. However, recently Smith won a TSN contest valued at $25,000 that’ll help rebuild the Centennial Arena – a place that froze my ears while I learned to play hockey.

When I was getting ready to move to the Northwest Territories from Sackville, N.B. my sister, who lives in a northwestern Ontario town, told me I would be playing hockey. I said I probably wouldn’t be since I didn’t have any equipment. Besides, there would be other things to do.

I arrived in Smith in the fall and there were lots of things to do. Hiking and biking and movie nights at the Northern Life Museum. But in late October the only thing the women in town could talk about was hockey. They were so excited to lace up their skates and hit the ice and be part of the Fort Smith Fury, as the team was named.

“Are you going to sign up?” I was asked. A lot.

“I don’t think so,” I would respond. “No equipment.”

“Don’t let that stand in your way,” they answered. “I know Sandra has a pair of skates for sale and Shari has a helmet. The team has some extra stuff like shin pads, elbow pads and chest pads. I’m sure someone has socks and a jersey you can borrow.”

And they did.

That first night of practice I was nervous. Not because I didn’t know how to play: my family cleaned off the pond near us every winter for shinny, so I knew how to play hockey. I was nervous because I didn’t know how to put on any equipment, except for the skates. With my chin up I took all “my” fifth-hand equipment and sat down in the locker room full of women I didn’t know.

I soon got to know them as they patiently explained what went where. As they filtered out onto the ice it left just me and Laura in the change room. Then I realized my pants didn’t have a string or a belt to hold them up.

“No problem,” said Laura. She wound hockey tape around my waist and it did the trick. I put on my “vintage” jersey and I looked like a real hockey player. I took to the ice that night feeling the part even though I definitely was not a CWHL (Canadian Women’s Hockey League) superstar.

I played hockey for three years in the Smith arena. Loved every

Hockey player.

Me – the hockey player.

minute of it. I especially loved skating in that rink. It’s beautiful. The wooden beams and the ceiling made me feel like I was in a cathedral. When the fire hit I was extremely sad. But thanks to TSN’s Kraft Celebration Tour contest, people will fill the Centennial Arena again.

Sidenote

TSN was broadcasting from Fort Smith last Friday. Smith, with its population of 2,600, beat out Whitehorse — a city 10 times the size — for the Kraft Celebration Tour prize. Now that’s community spirit.

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