In the Midst of the Storm
“Tell them this — God’s Message. Do people fall down and not get up? Or take the wrong road and then just keep going? So, why do this people go backward? And just keep on going backward? They stubbornly hold on to their illusions, refusing to change direction. I listened carefully but heard not so much as a whisper. No one expressed one word of regret. Not a single “I’m sorry” did I hear. They just kept at it, blindly and stupidly banging their heads against a brick wall. Cranes know when it’s time to move south for winter. And robins, warblers, and bluebirds know when it’s time to come back again. But my people? My people know nothing, not the first thing of God and his rule.” (Proverbs 24)
As a hockey mom, life can be challenging. This is especially so if said mom knows about hockey statistics and probabilities too. So, it should not have come as a surprise that a penalty on the ice for my son would occur too. However, upon reflection, I always thought it would come about as a consequence of my son doing something wrong and not the other way around.
But yesterday, it became official. My 12 year old was suspended for three consecutive hockey games. It was our second game against this particular team this season. During the last hockey game, my son took a shoulder to the head from one of their players. There was no penalty called. Still, for safety reasons, he had to leave the game.
Before the game began, my son had already mentioned that he didn’t want to get hurt again. Size was not an issue. He is as big as the players on the other team. And, at least 3 of the players were his teammates last year. Most of them are people he is friends with. Therefore, this shouldn’t even be an issue. The hockey game started at 4:15. My son was on defence (he is a great defence). There were only 2 linesmen and no actual referee. This is not uncommon in Minor Hockey, especially at A level.
The other team scored first and then we scored. Then they scored a second time, with our team scoring shortly after. And then we scored a third time. Like the cliché, it went all downhill from there. Their biggest defence player shot the puck and hit the post. No goal. He then slammed his stick on the ice and dropped an f-bomb.
As a mom, nothing makes me more upset than kids swearing. However, in hockey, swearing is not sufficient for a penalty (but I believe it should be something the coach deals with so it doesn’t happen again). Then their player trips one of our players. While he was in the penalty box for his indiscretions, another player checks one of our smallest players. He goes into the penalty box too(checking is NOT allowed in peewee hockey) — and our kid is out for the game. Two more goals were scored for our team, making the score 5-2. With 2 minutes left on the clock, the other team scores their 3rd of the game. By now, the teams are unevenly matched. The opposing team has 8 second year kids while we only have 2. With 13 kids on each team, we are definitely the smallest and least experienced in the league, so we should be an easy team to beat.
As this team has discovered, we are not. Our goalie stays strong. He makes great saves. Our defence plays hard and as a team, they do what they can to protect the goalie. Our forwards are getting shots on net, skating circles where the other team wants us to be slow. They are just having fun and playing hockey.
The difference for our team is that the motivation is not only about winning. A day earlier, we had lost a game 8-1 and the kids left the rink with smiles on their faces. They just want to play fair hockey. With less than 2 minutes to go, the play is back and forth. My son goes off the ice and comes back on with a minute left. Their big guy is not happy that they are going to lose. He gets on the ice around the same time my son does. He gets the puck. The clock has 33 seconds to go. He shoots and misses. The puck is very near to the goalie.
What does he do? He starts slashing our goalie. My son who is nearby gets in the middle of the two to stop it. Settled, the puck then goes behind the net so my son chases it. By now, the big player is not happy. He follows my son and with 27.5 seconds left to go in the game, he punches my son in the face. Yes, this 12 year old decided it was okay to do this.
For those who don’t know, you can’t defend yourself in hockey. A player is expected to skate away. Not expecting a punch in the face (yes I was the mom yelling from the stands) my son did what would be a natural thing for anyone who just got punched in the face. He grabbed him and pulled him down. They both got kicked out of the game. They both got 5 minute fighting penalties. They both got suspended for 3 games. Unfortunately, in a season where they play less than 25 games, 3 games is a HUGE loss. Moreover, punching my son in the face didn’t accomplish anything. Most fights start because tempers are high on the ice. This game wasn’t that kind of game. The big kid was suspended last year for 3 games for fighting (he jumped in when another boy started fighting). After that game, the other kid was all smiles and thought it was great. (He even bragged about it on his Facebook status less than an hour after the game ended.)
My son, who wanted to have as clean a season as one can have when playing defence now gets to sit on the sidelines for the next 3 weeks. He did not choose to fight back. He chose to protect his goalie. He played his position in the manner that he is supposed to.
But here, he was punished because of another boy’s choices. My son is not allowed to play with his team because of another player’s resentment about his team not winning. It could have been resolved. Certainly, if the ‘ref’ had given the other kid an instigator penalty, or had actually written down what had happened on the game sheet, the outcome might have been different. But he didn’t. And therefore, the penalty for my son was carved in stone.
So hockey for the next three games will not be quite as much fun but we will be at each game to cheer on the team. Thankfully, we will not play this team again before the New Year. This will give me time to do two things. First, from a hockey perspective, I’ll make sure an actual referee is on the ice to prevent another incident like this from happening to our team. Second, I will have sufficient time to pray for all the players on both teams (my son included) so that each and every one of them might understand that repeatedly doing things that only serve to destroy one another is not the answer. There is always, always, always a much better way to engage life!