Hockey seems so very far away when we are in the middle of a record setting hot summer. With more than fifty days of over 100 degree heat, the mere thought of an icy cold rink seems like paradise. And, when hockey is tossed into the mix, it becomes sheer bliss.
I confess. I love hockey. Everything about it. From the icy cold rink, bundled up in my coat and scarf, to the aromas of an arena, musky sweat, cheap beer and wet wool. And the sounds! They are permanently etched into my brain. A puck hitting the pipe with a loud metallic thunk, the sharp crisp shusssh of blades cutting into the ice, crashing bodies against the boards, players chirping, taunting, yelling, all overlaid by fans screaming, cheering, gasping and yes, even booing.
The exhilaration of winning and the desperation of losing is reflected on both sides of the glass. Fans roar as the puck slams into the back of the net and the goal horn blows. One team celebrates a hard won momentary battle while the other team, disheartened, hang their heads in dejection and skate silently away.
And then it begins all over again, one long beautiful flow, back and forth, skaters hurtling down the ice chasing the puck – elegance in motion. Pure beauty. Take your eye off the puck for one moment and just watch the players. The forward fluid rush, a player skating like a demon down the ice with his stick in hand, and with each push of his skate his hand and stick acts as a counterbalance –a lovely weave of sinuous movement.
I revel in all of these things during hockey season and dream of them during these dog days of summer, recalling fondly specific moments of absolute sheer beauty. A slight whisper of despair still hangs in the air from last season, but that is quickly overshadowed by the immense exhilaration of the mere thought of yet another season of hockey.