Last night was my son's last hockey game of the season. It was for the house championship, so it was a big deal. And what an exciting game it was! The teams were pretty evenly matched, so the score went back and forth all game, but by the end of the third period it was tied, 5-5.
Now in years past I think they would have played a short, 5 minute overtime period. Then if they were still tied after that, they would have done a shoot-out. But apparently the powers that be saw fit to change it up this year. Now the rules call for the kids to play 5 on 5 for 1:30 minutes. Then if there was no score, they play 4 on 4 for 1:30 minutes. If still no score, they play 3 on 3 for 1:30. The first team to score in all this wins, and no player can be repeated in the overtime play. (In other words, if a kid plays in the 5 on 5, he can't play in the 4 on 4 or the 3 on 3.) If there was still no score after the 3 on 3, I bet they would have gone to a shoot-out.
So, in our game last night the kids played the overtime 5 on 5. Still no score. They did the 4 on 4. No score. And out come the players for the 3 on 3. One of the three was a kid named Pete. Pete is a big, slow kid, can't skate backward to save his life, and always manages to fall down every time the play gets anywhere near him. (Okay, I'm exaggerating a little and I don't want to be mean. My son rushed to his defense when I conveyed this in an e-mail to his brother, so Pete must at least be a really nice kid. Suffice it to say, he was not one of our better players this year.)
When I saw Pete out there, I turned my head (away from the other parents) and whispered to my husband, "Why is Pete out there?" My husband said (out loud, but not loudly), "They've got to play him -- they can't have any repeats." Which would've been fine, except the guy next to us picked up on it and said (quite loudly), "Yeah, I wouldn't be putting Pete out there right now!" To which I cringed because Pete's parents were sitting right next to this guy, just across the aisle. I would be surprised if they didn't hear that. Grrr...and I started the whole thing.
So the play begins and it's clear the kids are tired. But somehow, all the way back in our zone, Pete gets the puck and he starts to skate it up. He gets by one opponent, and then the next. Where are his other two teammates? They're hanging back in our zone, even as Pete, in his slow and lumbering fashion, works his way up the ice toward the other goal. I couldn't figure why they were hanging back -- were they expecting Pete to lose it right away and staying back to protect the goal? Or were they just tired?
Whatever the reason, Pete, looking like he was out for a Sunday stroll, made his way up the ice, went "coast-to-coast" in hockey lingo, all alone. He gets to about 12 inches from the opposing goalie, and I'll be darned if that kid didn't poke that puck into the net! It was no snazzy shot, it sure wasn't fast. But he tucked that thing in right between the goalie's legs, in the 5-hole as they say, and won the game!
No one could believe it! The whole crowd of parents, grandparents and siblings went wild. The team rushed off the bench and jumped all over Pete. It was glorious!
Who needs professional sports when there's so much pure and wonderful drama in simple, house hockey?