Championship Material?

With thirteen youth hockey tournaments under my belt in the past five years, I finally get the chance to play in one of my own. Tomorrow night my team leaves warm and humid NJ for the hockey mecca of Toronto, where we'll be playing in the Hockey North America 2007 Finals. Hockey North America, is, for all intents and purposes, the life and times chronicled by Bill Gaston in Midnight Hockey. We aren't driving to Toronto because 8 hours in the car, each way, with our own equipment would be cruel and unusual olfactory punishment. We've been warned that the toughest part of the tournament is simply getting to the games, as it will be the first time we've ever played hockey in the afternoon.

The league takes this seriously; there's already a website that tracks game by game and player by player results, similar to what you'd get with the Olympics. Except you'll never find this former math team captain representing any country in the Olympics. In ice hockey, anything is possible.

Three years ago, when a bunch of us left our former HNA team and spun up the Ice Dragons, we set a series of simple goals: inaugural year, play 0.500 hockey. After that: play in Toronto. Last year we made it a round deeper into the division playoffs, and this year we earned an invitation up north. Just like the youth tournaments, win or lose, we'll have a lot of fun, meet some fellow hockey heads, upset random hotel staff, and come home with t-shirts that prove we made the journey.

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