“Oh the good ole hockey game is the best game you can name” – Stompin’ Tom Connors
Early in my teaching career (many, many years ago), we never had a February break, so the high school held a week of Winter Games to help keep up morale and alleviate the doldrums during those cold, blustery days. Believe me, by the time Easter rolled around, everyone was ready for time off and time away from each other! I mention this not to say that those were the “good old days”, but to give context to my story.
One of the highlights of those Games was the staff versus students floor hockey match held on the last Friday afternoon. Criteria for who qualified to be on the students’ team would have been drawn up long before the game and most would have been vying for a spot on that team. (I mean, who wouldn’t want an opportunity to physically compete against their teachers.) Despite the criteria, it always seemed that the best athletes found their way onto that team which always made for a tough challenge. (There might have been grounds for a conspiracy theory.)
I particularly remember this one game as I was the only female staff member playing (mandatory for all teachers) and I just hoped not to be too much of a detriment as the rest of our team was looking pretty good since all of the guys played or had played senior ice hockey, plus most were of a fairly decent size. This meant the students (especially the boys) would be trying even harder!
After the first couple of shifts it became clear that this was going to be a tenacious competition. And when my six foot tall intern was rolled and bounced off the gym wall by a grade 12 boy, he came to the sideline to ask me, “Are we allowed to hit back?”
“No,” I replied, “but you can’t help it if one of them runs into you.” (Little did I know how prophetic my words would be.)
Whenever it was my turn to play, I usually stayed back on defence (as if I could really do anything) or I just tried to get to the puck first and clear it out (running I could do). But for the most part I stayed out of the way and let the guys work hard at keeping the puck in the other end.
Meanwhile the students were getting more and more frustrated, and braver and braver with their body checking. Every time a student pushed or shoved a teacher, an encouraging cheer went up from the student spectators.
As the minutes of the game ticked down, the men let up and the students gained control of the puck. Suddenly one of the bigger boys (a very good player) broke out of their end, moving fast, tapping his stick impatiently, waiting for a forward pass. He was running full speed ahead while looking back for that pass and barrelling straight for me. This was not going to be pretty,so I did the only thing I could do in the name of self-preservation: I ducked down. As I did so I caught the student right at the knees and sent him flying head over heels.
A deafening roar erupted! No one could believe that little Mrs. Krawetz had just delivered the best hit of the game! Don Cherry would have been proud.