Summer Pond Hockey: From Goalie to Skater

It is summer in Chicago. The long winter youth hockey season has ended, spring tournament season is over and it is hot outside. So this is the time of year where we throw a team of our friends together and play 3 on 3 with pond hockey rules. No icing, no offsides, and any penalty is a penalty shot.

PeeWee’s (12u) play two 20 minute games with no stoppage in play, the clock does not stop for goals or penalties (except for the penalty shot). The only face off is at the beginning of the game. Its fun. It’s exciting to watch and line changes are comical at times.

My Peewee (Thing 3) is a goalie during the regular season, but he misses skating, puck handling, goal scoring and the glory that comes with that. So during the summer for 3 on 3 hockey he asked of he could skate out and be a regular hockey player.

This started the summer of 2017.

That 1st summer was challenging just from an equipment prospective. We had to get regular skates, chest protector, elbow pads, shin guards, even a new helmet. The last time he played as a forward he was 7. We borrowed some, bought used other stuff and bucked up for new skates.

Then once he got on the ice, it was like weeble-wobbles.

He was falling all over the place, he looked like a new player. He looked like he did when he 1st started playing as a Mini-Mite when he was 5.

I didn’t think about the difference in equipment and skate blade. Who would have thought that the 2 mm difference in blade thickness from a goalie skate to a regular skate would make that much of a difference? Certainly not me.

So here we are in summer 2018.

We planned for 3 on 3 this time. Better equipment, better skates, and some regular skating ice time has made a difference.

Now, he will never be a stand out player. As a goalie, he just doesn’t have the puck touches and the skating drills that a forward or defenseman will get. But we did notice that he no longer falls on his butt every 10 feet. That in itself is a WIN.

So this brings us to the game.

June 16, 2018.

Thing 3’s 3×3 game was at 2:10 but we got a frantic call at 11am from the manager of the other 3×3 team for a goalie.

Their goalie would not be there and they can’t play without a goalie. So Thing 3 would play goalie at 1:00 and then skater at 2:10. We agreed and I packed both bags in the car. Game 1 was fine. Thing 3 stopped many shots, but I could tell he was a little rusty between the pipes. Game 1 ended, we rushed him off the ice for the quick change.

I, taking off goalie pads, skates and such, switching out for shin guards, hockey socks and regular skates and another mom was taking off the jersey, switching chest protector, elbow pads and helmet.

It was a group effort. Literally the only thing he was able to keep on was the pants. Thank God the goalie pants I bought last year were a tad long. Nine minutes later, he was back on the ice, skating for warm ups.

I don’t get too excited about 3×3 summer hockey. It’s just for fun and to knock the cobwebs off for the summer prior to tryouts for the fall season. This game started out the same. A lot of shots on goal, a lot of line changes and a little fun banter between players. The last 2 mintues of the game I realize that this game was tied 2-2. I wondered what the summer league rules were for a tie game.

The other parents and I speculated between letting it just end in a tie, or how many minutes of overtime would be allowed, or if it would go to a shoot out. We soon found out. Shoot out.

I still don’t know the league rules of the shoot out for 3 on 3. But since we were the Home team, we shot second.

Kid after kid went up to center ice to skate toward the other teams goalie to take their shot. Shot after shot, the goalies were brick walls. Nothing got through. Each team went through each player. I was hoping, praying, that someone else would score and would spare my goalie-turned-skater the embarrassment of having to skate, puck handle and shoot with all eyes on him.

I mean, its one thing when you are skating with 5 other people on the ice, but when you are in a shoot out, it is just you.

Every single eye on you and picking apart your stride, your speed, your ability to move the puck even your wind up to release. I was nervous. This is the worst thing for this kid right now. He is dying inside.

I glance over to the bench, I see coach bent down talking to him, pointing, weaving his hand back and forth while the last kid from the visiting team took his shot.

He missed.

It was up to my kid.

Oh. My. God.

I decided to grab my phone, because he will want to analyze this for the next week. He looks up at coach, nods his head and skates out to center ice.

While I am grabbing my camera, he actually looses an edge and blows out on the ice right in the center circle.

I caught the last 2 second of it and heard the gentle chuckles from the crowd of parents and saw the embarrassment on his face.

That was it, he was done before he started.

I saw the smirk on the face of the goalie for the other team. He too, thought this would be and easy save for him.

My kid got up, brushed the snow off his pants and skated toward the puck waiting for him on the red line. Off he went, grabbing the puck with his hand-me-down wooden stick, his skating was slow, but calculated, he started going wide to the left. I was thinking, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING!!!!”

Then he skated toward the middle, he was close to the crease, too close I thought to get a good shot off. Then moved over to the right. Then he let it go.

IT FREAKING WENT IN!!!! The goalie beat the goalie. The kid that hasn’t really handled a puck in 3 1/2 years scored the game winning goal.

He turned and skated back to center ice as casually as if it were open skate. He teammates cleared the bench, skating out to him to congratulate him. He looked shell shocked. I was thinking, and the video proves that I was saying it out loud,

“You’ve got to be kidding me!”

I don’t even know what happened afterward. I was totally geeking out on it! I usually go crazy for a shut-out or a wicked glove save for this kid, never a goal. I don’t even know how to properly cheer for a goal scored – goal denied, yes; goal scored, no.

On the way home we actually talked about the game. We never talk about the game. Win or lose, we try to find something else to talk about. But this day was different. He told me how he was praying that it wouldn’t come down to him, hoping someone else would score. He told me how coach pulled him aside and talked him through it. He told me he did everything coach told him and IT WORKED!

“Coach Jim is a good coach mom. He knew exactly what to tell me to get me to deke out that other goalie.”

Yeah buddy he did, but you are the one that had to do it.

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