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More of Our Great Game

We just published the winners of our 2010 Hockey Contest in the April/May issue of Our Canada. There were so many great stories and we will hopefully be publishing more soon, but in the meantime, here are a few more runners-up!

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Our Hockey Heritage

Our Hockey Heritage

It was great fun reading all your hockey experiences from across the country. Many stories stood out, but none as much as our three winners and honourable mention.

First Place:
“Good Old Hockey Days” by Paul Huemiller of Kitchener.
Prize: $600

Second Place:
“Imagining the Game” by Brian Pounder of Orillia, Ont.
Prize: $400

Third Place:
“Call me Coach” by Bert Brazeau of Timmins, Ont.
Prize: $200

Honourable Mention:
“Kiwi Hockey Convert” by Heather McCabe, Sudbury

Though it was a writing contest, we also received some great photos that we published alongside the winning stories, one of them by Darla Galley of Kanata, Ont., that captured the joy of hockey through a bunch of Atom A boys. From left to right: Etienne Laroche, Joshua Sylvain, Justin Cloutier, Patrick Cloutier and Thomas Desveaux.

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Finding Greatness

Finding Greatness

 Back when I was a little kid, barely even at an age when I knew what a hockey stick was meant for, my father wanted me to see greatness.

It seems that not far from our little town of Ancaster, Ont., was a town of equal size but receiving quite a buzz due to some sort of wonder-kid skating circles around everyone and putting pucks in the opposing nets faster than you could say Number 99.  Yes, this prodigy was playing for the Brantford Alexanders hockey club and his name was Wayne Gretzky.

Wayne was probably in his teens at this point, he had yet to be drafted into the NHL to begin his epic career, but my father, who certainly was no die-hard hockey fan, felt he should drag me out to the rink to take a look at how great this guy could play.

Well with me being six or seven and having the attention span of a gnat, I appreciated the evening for what it was: a night out with my dad at a sporting event.

I am sure Wayne played great and he probably got about five goals and six assists but I honestly couldn’t tell you for sure. What I can tell you though, is that while greatness was on the ice, it was also sitting in the stands behind us.

Midway through the game my dad leaned over with a program and asked me to request an autograph from the person sitting directly behind me.  I turned around and stared at an old, wrinkled, smiling man.

“Dad…” I said aloud.

“Yes son,” he replied.

“Why do I want an autograph from an old man?”

The elder man shook his head and laughed before gladly accepting the hockey program. He signed it with a sharpie and returned it to my confused grip.  I read the inscription carefully: Gump Worsley.

Yes, the same Gump Worsley who won four Stanley Cups as well as many other accolades throughout his career.

By Brian Curry, Hamilton

Photo: Illustration by Paul Huemiller of Kitchener, the winner of our 2010 Hockey Contest.

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It's Never Too Late to Get Your Feet Iced...

It’s Never Too Late to Get Your Feet Iced…

My story is actually about my husband, Morris Dowhan’s debut into the real world of hockey. As a kid, he had played table hockey, with sticks and a rolled up sock in the hallway and even on a dugout-though only in his boots because his family couldn’t afford skates. But his journey into ice hockey didn’t start until he was 36 and the old-timers team desperately needed a goalie.

His love of the game overruled any thought for his safety and the fact that he had never even learned how to skate. Growing up on a farm there was a lot of work to do, no money and not much time for play. He didn’t even have any equipment, so as the first game of the season approached he had to borrow some to get started.

In the dressing room he struggled to get into his pads but finally got all the buckles buckled and straps strapped. The next hurdle was getting out to the net. Well, because he couldn’t skate he had to have two of the players each take an arm and guide him over to his net. Okay, now he was ready!

The first shot came at him and we’re still not sure if he went down to make the save or just fell. Normally, this would be fine, you just get up and try again. However, if you can’t skate, you can’t get up when you fall! So every time he fell, he had to turn around and grab the goal post and pull himself up that way.

The other team was laughing so hard they could barely shoot, let alone get the puck in the net. My husband had more black and blue marks on his back than his front because they kept shooting while he was trying to get himself in the upright position.

Over the years he did get better and was able to skate to the net and back unescorted and even get up without the help of the goal posts. His love of the game kept him playing for the Thorhild Coyotes for another 20 years and even now he still yearns to get between the pipes.

By Lori Lahti, Thorhild, Alta.

Photo: Morris in his goalie gear in 1991.

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Skating Pains

Skating Pains

When I was about five years old, my father bought me a pair of skate guards. Using the logic of a five year old, I assumed that they were what they were called. Thus, they were meant to protect my skates.

My father did not tell me that I had to take them off when I went on the ice. With great pride in my skate guards, I ventured onto the ice just as an opposing player was shooting the puck. I fell and the puck hit me square in the eyebrow.

There was some blood and I required a couple of stitches but the biggest wound was to my pride. Forty-five years later, that comical incident is just as vivid today as it was then.

By Denis Powell, Toronto