I remember when I was a young boy. The year was 1967.
You may remember that year.
It was the last time the Leafs won the cup, and I watch every game with great anticipation.
I was just six years old, but had a good understanding of this Canadian made tradition.
My two brothers and I, Dino who is a year older and Steve, a year younger live with our mom in Ontario Housing in the Jane and Finch area for those that know TORONTO.
Yes it was a “Tough area!”
We were very poor to say the least, but managed to survive.
Even so, my memories of that time are still heart warming.
We played a lot of “Street Hockey.” Organized ice hockey was not possible.
We played on the parking lot of our development year round.
It was a great game and cheap too.
Memories of picking teams, I was always picked last. Never a captain.
I was a very shy and timid kid, but when it came to street hockey, I was fierce and played with the heart of a lion. If I had a nickel for every time the guys called me slasher. Here comes Tony the slasher. “Be afraid……. be very afraid! Ha ha.
Sporting my favorite team’s jersey and playing until the street lights came on,
I wore out that Montreal Canadians sweater that my mom had given me.
I pretended to be Ken Dryden. I never understood why the other kids called me a traitor. “Traitor, Slasher” that was me!
I remember the goalie pads were made from the seat foam of a discarded sofa, and a bit of string. It worked quite well and saved a few knee caps along the way I’m sure, especially from my slashing stick.
I remember the hockey net that was so warn from over use. It had old shoe laces tied in to repair the holes. And the arguments that ensued as to whether or not the puck went through the netting or shot wide.
New hockey sticks were far too costly for us to afford. Instead, we would buy the plastic hockey stick blades for 99 cents from “Towers” and attach it to an old discarded stick.
My mom would then put it in the oven for 20 minutes so we could bend it. That made for really great wrist shots. Wrist shots were the in thing back in the day. No one did slap shots! That’s the way it was in the NHL too. I think it was an accuracy thing.
The slap shot evolved and soon to follow was the goalie mask and more protection.
When I was 7 or 8, I was in Cub Scouts. You remember that.
Our Kayla (leader) was a great guy. He liked outdoor sports and the outdoors in general, and took us hiking and camping quite a bit
. He recognized that most of the guys in our Scout pack were into organized ice hockey, so on scout night he mentioned to the us about renting a rink.
I was so excited! Until he mentioned that we had to bring our skates, helmet, gloves, and stick and a dollar to pay for the ice time.
I didn’t have those things, nor did my mom have the money to get them for me.
He handed out permission forms at the end of that meeting.
At that time I told him that I wouldn’t be able to go.
He patiently dismissed the guys then privately sat me down and asked me why I couldn’t go. So I told him.” I don’t know how to skate.” He said “What size are you Tony?” “My son has an old pair of skates that might just fit you.”
Long story short. He suited me up quite well for that on coming game.
I will never forget what he did for me.
Fact was I still couldn’t skate, but I did go and give it my best shot.
I stepped out onto the ice and fell flat on my bum. I remember how much it hurt.
I didn’t know Ice was so hard.
I fell a lot.
It was like watching like watching a replay of Americas funniest Home Videos watching me fall.
My team mates told me to just position myself near the net and try not to fall. So I did.
I amazed even myself that night, and managed to even score three goals.
Shoot, Score, fall, OUCH! Get back up! And……………repeat.
I got to keep my skates, and for the next couple of years I made an ice rink in my back yard with my brothers.
That memory lives in me till this day. It has faded a bit, but still remains with me. I just thought I would share it with you all.
I have never played organized team hockey, and I still can’t skate worth beans,
So this year I figured I would relive my childhood a bit and share the joy of Hockey with my friends and family by making a new rink.
After all “It’s a Canadian Thing.”
As always with me, it’s something I think about last minute and quickly becomes a cause. But with the help of my friend Daner who lives just up the line, we got the ground almost level and threw up some boards.
It takes a day to make a rink on level ground.
It takes two months if the weather doesn’t cooperate. Lol
In the mean time I built the boards in my shop and slowly but surly it started to come together.
The results were good for the first year. But Wait till next year!
"IT'S A CANADIAN THING!" at Campbellville, ON. Tony B