The thing I remember most about our living-room on Decarie Boulevard when I was about five years old – well, aside from the time a fruit drop got stuck in my throat and I couldn’t swallow until it melted enough to slide down – was playing hockey with my big brother in it.
This mostly took place when our dad wasn’t home yet from work, and our mom was very busy preparing supper or doing other household tasks. I remember this, because if they had been home, we would’ve been shut in our separate rooms to contemplate the edict that likely would’ve ensued: “No hockey in the living room!”
I was always, like the poor girl in the photo above, goalie. It’s a miracle that there weren’t any broken candy dishes or overturned vases in light of this fact. I suppose it’s due to my brother’s undeniable skill at scoring, so most of the time the “puck” wound up behind me against the bare wall.
I don’t recall what we used for the puck or hockey sticks, but what I do remember is my brother Dan’s constant stream of commentary as we played. “Now here comes Howe… he’s coming along the boards… he SHOOTS one… he SCORES!!! Ohh and McNeil just missed the save! Too bad…”
In light of the fact that my hockey-loving 9-year-old brother and his somewhat less-hockey-loving little sister regularly turned the family living room into a hockey rink, you may be surprised to learn that we never graduated to a real hockey rink. The reason is very simple. We never learned to skate well enough.
But speaking for myself, I can honestly say that my early days as a goalie of sorts primed me for the excitement of the grown-up, professional version of the sport. A few years ago, Dan took me to a real game for my birthday; the Canadiens were playing at the Bell Centre. It was enthralling: the sounds of their impassioned shouts to one another, the scraping of their skates on the ice, the puck flying, ice crystals spraying, the rise of the cheering, the crowd’s twirling of white towels, the organist’s flourishes…
He shoots… he SCORES!!