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"Useless Hockey Information"
Columbia, MO • United States • 20 Years Old • Male
So it's about 2 in the morning, I'm suffering from severe insomnia, and what am I to do? Well, I've decided to start a series on the 13 or so (fairly well-spent) years I've had in the game of hockey. Please to enjoy.

I was about 6, 7 years old, living with my family in San Antonio, Texas (where my father had relocated after Southwestern Bell, his then-employer, shifted headquarters from my birthplace of St Louis to after by all accounts the head of SBC didn't get into a country club) when I saw my first NHL game on TV. It was a cracker; New York versus the Devils, Game 6, 1994 East Final. I was sport-obsessed (mostly with football) as just about all the kids who had moved to this barren wasteland were, and having watched SportsCenter that morning I had seen the back page of the New York Post (you know the one, where Mess said "WE'LL WIN TONIGHT" ) about a hundred times, which only piqued my interest. Watching that game, I became enthralled with all the speed, action, the moves these people did on tiny little skate blades. When Messier scored the empty-netter, there was no other word: I was hooked.

We moved back to St Louis the next year, where my father took a job with another firm and there was a fairly established hockey culture. I went skating with my kindergarten class on a field trip, and was surprised to see that there were a few hockey players there. I asked around the right places and learned about the new rink opening up right by my house, and the Falcons, the team formed to play at it. I begged and pleaded with my parents to please, let me be a Falcon, let me play with these kids in the game I loved. After lots of hemming and even some hawing, they finally relented, letting me sign up first for Learn-to-Skate, then Learn-to-Play programs.

I eventually got old enough to play for a team, albeit a House team, who only played other Falcon House teams and didn't cut a single player. I still remember it: the Orange Crush (because our sweaters looked like Flyers shirts), with Coach Tim and Coach Dennis; 3rd Place Chesterfield League, Winners of the Missouri Mite House Cup. I think that trophy is still in the case at the Summit Center, with my name engraved on it. And my old jersey is still somewhere in my closet.

I played House for the majority of my hockey career, until 7th grade, when House ended and I decided to make the Travel jump--Bantam B's. Yes, it was barely a step up (we at least got nice jerseys, and matching helmets and in most cases gloves), but still--we were representing Chesterfield! We weren't half bad, either: we finished 3rd in a 11-team league, and won 3rd place at a tournament in Oklahoma City. But I'll never forget our Playoff game: up 5-0 against St Peters, our bitter rivals, they came back to tie it in the last minute. It went to a shootout, made all the more interesting in that their best player was ineligible due to a check-from-behind penalty. Our goalie, Branden, stood on his head, and a forward named Cody had a shot stopped by the snow the goalie piled on the line pre-shootout, but they ran out winners. The dream was over for me at Chesterfield--I had bigger, high-school sized fish to fry.

All this while I went to about 6 Blues games a year, always in just about the same places (upper level, section 321, seats varied) except when my father could wangle his company's season tickets (lower levels, in one of the corners--a horrible place, but hey, you could see the players' faces!). I got my old Blues jersey (with the red Mighty Ducks-striping) autographed by none other than Bobby Hull. A neighbor whose father was the team doctor got me into the locker room on, by a stroke of luck, a day that Alyssa Milano made an apperance trying to proposition Brendan Shanahan (this was in my pre-pubescent era, mind, when I knew nothing of Shanny stealing Craig Janney's missus, nor how Milano had been banned from other NHL locker rooms, nor about her career pre-Charmed, for which if you want a good example I suggest you seek out a B-movie called Embrace of the Vampire). My pee-wee team even played against Joel Quenneville's son's team in a practice game. Q came to our dressing room post-match and said that I was good at taking faceoffs--a compliment that I still remember, and a part of me treasures, to this day.

Next up: my stories from high-school hockey.
Filed Under:   youth   hockey   blues  
June 28, 2007 1:58 AM ET | Delete
I'm trying to figure out the ages...did you ever play with Drew Peterson in the Falcons program? He's my neighbor's son...I know Rick (Drew's dad, my neighbor) is pretty active in that association. I think Drew is 16 (?), so 2-3 years behind you? Anyway, small world!
June 29, 2007 3:43 AM ET | Delete
No, I'm 18 (almost 19) so I was a few years up. Is he playing HS now (and if so where?)
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