By Bruce Overstreet
Life on the ice is different. With a stick in the hands, pads to protect you from a mishap and a helmet with a face mask, it’s hard not to feel a little indestructible and invincible. Even with plenty of pads, though, I am far from comfortable on the ice.
Because life on the ice is different.
Life moves at a faster pace. Life moves with more reckless abandon on the ice. And life is also much more unforgiving on the ice.
So, you can probably understand when I say that life is more exciting on the ice.
It’s that sheer rush of the fast-paced skating after a puck that, if one didn’t know any better, could easily pass for a frantic mouse from the distance. And so, like Tom in a vintage Hanna-Barbera-esque scramble to drive Jerry with as much force as possible into the back of the net, I love the chase for the puck.
But just like Tom, I also feel as if I am out of control and heading for real disaster every time I start spinning those skates and the puck pretty much remains out of harms way. In fact, every time I chase after that puck, the image of Tom churning his legs in such a frenetic pace that they look like helicopter blades rotating perpendicularly flashes in my mind.
There is always that moment in every Tom and Jerry episode where it appears that Jerry is, in fact, in trouble, that moment when things are actually going in Tom’s favor. That happened to me a couple sessions ago when miraculously, the puck bounced off my stick at just the right angle to squeeze past the goalie and into the back of the net.
Like every kid who watches one of those episodes and sees things go Tom’s way, even for a fleeting second, the other guys on the ice were dumbfounded. They could only shake their heads over the fact that the new kid on the ice had tasted the satisfaction of scoring.
I joked with the guy who was matched up opposite me on the following face-off — a guy from Calgary who had never played hockey until just recently — that I had done that to defend the honor of the United States, in light of the fact that the U.S. team had been sidelined by the Canadian team in the semi-final game of the recent Olympics.
Dan Langille, 37, the hockey rookie from Calgary, got involved in this Adult Beginning Hockey class because his six-year-old son, Luc, plays for the Everett Youth Hockey Mighty Mites. And one time when Dan sat in the stands with another Mighty Mite dad, Derrick Lease, the two of them made a deal that if one signed up for the beginners class, the other one would, as well.
Neither Langille nor Lease regrets the decision to get on the ice. They do both get grief from their boys that they still have plenty to learn. Ah, the beauty of being young with a low center of gravity.
Luc Langille, the six-year-old wiz, was in the pre-practice locker room meeting recently as Renny Huot, the head coach of the program, was going over the technical emphasis for the session. Every time there was a question about positioning, Coach Huot would turn to little Luc to ask it. Without missing a beat, Luc would blurt out a high-pitched, accurate answer. And dad would beam.
With guys like Dan Langille on the ice, one can only try to keep pace. Sure, he may be new to hockey, but the guy is still a Canadian, after all. The respect factor alone is enough to earn Dan the same acknowledgement that Tom always must give to Jerry at the end of every episode. Or even better, the respect afforded Spike the Dog.
If only Hanna-Barbera were still around to write a script for the action on Sundays at 4:00 p.m. at the Comcast Community Ice Rink. I’d probably be cast as Meathead, the brown, mangy alley cat who wears a red toupee.
In this episode, though, Meathead gets to place just one shot in the upper right corner of the goal.