My first "hockey memory" is my first times on skates at 4 years old. My dad loved to skate and loved to have me spend time with him, so he took me shopping and bought me figure skates. Hockey skates for girls weren't even a consideration in those days. He went to the skate sharpener and took the picks off. Then he got a hockey stick and cut it down to my size and put me on the ice. He skated a bit with me between his legs so I got a feel for the movement, but as he always bragged, that's all it took and I was skating. I remember spending years playing hockey on the rink in our back yard - the only girl in the group.
Second hockey memory - a few years ago we were invited to the in-laws for New Years Eve. The plan was to have dinner, then head over to the local rink for some family hockey. None of my husband's relatives knew how I skated, so when teams were chosen, no one chose me. When we got on the ice, however, my hubby and I were on the same team and he knew. We scored the first three goals. After that my nephews wanted a re-alignment of the teams and every time we got together to play, I was the first team member chosen.
NHL Memory #1 I was living on the Queen Charlotte Islands, but had plans to be in Vancouver during the same time that my neighbor's 12 year old son was going to be there. I asked him if he was going to the hockey game - Vancouver was playing Detroit at home. He said he was and I asked him if he wanted to go with me. He didn't really, but I promised if he wanted to catch up with me after the game, I might be able to pull off a little surprise for him. He agreed. After the game we went to the tunnel to wait for the players. Doug Lidster was playing for the Canucks at the time and when he came out I walked up and said hi to him. He had been my neighbor growing up and recognized me right away. He asked about my brother, what I was doing now, etc. Then he made a 12 year old's day. He signed a stick for Jimmy, signed his program, of course and invited him back into the locker room for a few minutes of one on one. It was a wonderful thing to do and one I will be grateful for forever. Jimmy's mom passed away a few years ago and I lost contact, but it is still one of the best memories ever. Oh, and Detroit won.
NHL #2 When the Flames first came to Calgary I happened to be there for a computer course. My cousin was living there at the time and asked what I wanted to do - of course I said go to a hockey game!! We went to one of the first Flames' home games in the Saddledome, but it was the fans themselves who made me a fan. They were so much fun and so supportive of their team, without booing the opposing team. I don't remember who was playing but I believe it was Edmonton. The Flames didn't win, but the cheering never stopped, not once. After years of being a fan of my dad's teams, I had a team of my own!!
Naturally there's a couple incredible goals from 66, including the coast to coast goal from the 1991 finals against the North Stars, and the following year in the 4th and final game of the Wales Conference Finals in Boston when Mario skated right through Ray Bourque and Adam Oates. However, what still goes down as one of the greatest moments in Penguins history was the comeback in 1992. The Hawks and Pens came in riding 11 and 7-game winning streaks respectively...something had to give! The Hawks pounded the Pens early at the Civic Arena, jumping out to a 3-0 lead. A power play goal by Phil Bourque (oh ye of cracking the Cup in Mario's pool) got the Pens on the board. The Hawks got another goal to make it 4-1, but in the second period the comeback began. After Mario used Eddie Belfour like a pinball machine to make it 4-3 after two periods, the stage was set for Jagr and Lemieux to complete the comeback.
Yes, you'd have to have been there to believe it!
Since the Penguins were the kickoff game today and playing Buffalo, my favorite moment against the Sabres was OT in game 7 of the 2001 Eastern Conference semifinals up in Buffalo. Of all the players, surely the least likely was defenseman Darius Kasparitis, who scored the game winner.
My first and probably most cherished hockey memory, simply because it was the first time I'd ever watched a game and I fell in love immediately, was a juniors game between the Spokane Chiefs and the Tri-City Americans. I was already in my early twenties, and my aunt was a billet - a foster mother of sorts for young hockey players playing in the states. As soon as I'd shown any interest in hockey after catching the end of a very exciting Avalanche game on television and complaining to my dad that we had no hockey close, he told me about my aunt's arrangement with the team and suggested that I take in a game with her. The minute I walked in to the arena, I was sold. The smell of the ice, the vibe of the crowd, and the savage beauty of the game. So graceful, yet so brutal. There were even a couple of fights, to which I wasn't sure how I would react - and I even enjoyed those. Below is a highlight video of the Chiefs in 2007-2008, the season of their latest Memorial Cup win since I couldn't find any from as long ago as I first went.
Another memory I have is when I started playing. I had fallen so head-over-heels in love with the game I decided that I needed to play. One of my friends happened to be assistant coach of a women's team in Spokane and he was thrilled when I said I wanted to play, even though I'd never been on skates. He took me shopping for gear, skates, and then to a local hockey rink to get a feel for the ice before I started practice. I was a bit wobbly and almost gave up, figured it was too hard. He talked me in to going to practice anyway and giving it a shot. The minute I stepped onto the ice with all of my pads and helmet and holding my hockey stick, I was a natural. When you're focused on the game, drills, learning and executing plays, your body just does the skating thing naturally. It's an even bigger rush than watching.
And last but certainly not least, the Ducks hoisting the Stanley Cup in 2007. I think this can go without further commentary:
We hope you've enjoyed our trip down hockey memory lane. Do you have any favorite hockey memories? Share them below!