Happy Wednesday, all! And to you hockey fans – HAPPY HOCKEY DAY! Today is the opening day of the NHL’s 2021 season, and Leafs fans get a special treat as they open their season against long-time rival Montreal Canadiens! It surprises some, but I’m actually a big hockey fan and former hockey mom.
My son Lucas was a goalie his entire minor hockey career, and I’ve spent countless hours in freezing rinks around the GTA, waking up at ridiculous times to load him and his gear into the car. It’s a special treat to be a goalie mom; they’re a superstitious and eccentric bunch, and he’s no exception. For all of the early mornings, freezing rinks, and a small fortune in league fees and equipment costs, it brought us closer together and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss it. I remember watching him when he was first starting, he took up none of the net but he loved to play.
One of my favourite hockey memories with him occurred October 14, 2006. How I remember the date will become apparent shortly. A family friend had gotten us free tickets to watch the Leafs play the Calgary Flames at the Air Canada Centre. My son – a huge Miika Kiprusoff fan – wore a Flames jersey, and I joined him. It’s an interesting experience to see a Leafs game at the ACC wearing the other teams’ colours, but everyone was good natured with the ribbing as the Flames blew a 4-0 lead to lose the game 5-4 in overtime.
That night, former Leafs captain Mats Sundin not only scored his 500th career goal, he scored the OT winner to complete a hat trick in what has become a moment forever etched in Toronto sports history, and we were there!
Our consolation prize came after the game, however. Lucas and his friend had a standing invite to visit the Flames locker room. As we made our way down to the player/family area, he was bouncing he was so excited.
He and his friend got to go meet the players. They got free hats, and the players signed them for the boys, and they excitedly shared the experience the whole way home. As a mom, there’s no better feeling than seeing your child genuinely excited. That’s probably the highlight of the night for me.