Silver Anniversary

Hockey can frequently be a game of bounces. When they go your way, the hockey gods are in your favor, and you feel lucky. Other days, the puck couldn't find the opponent's net even if it was tied to the back twine and reeled in.

Last Saturday I took all matter of literary license with my job as team manager, and taped a note on the locker room door as my son's ice hockey team prepared for the NJ State Squirt "B" (Tier II) playoffs. On the note, in a protective poly sleeve, was one of my prized eBay finds, a Tretiak jersey card, having been saved for just such an occasion. Above it, I wrote "25 years ago the team that could not lose was beaten by a team that believed in itself." And below, "We believe in you." Not quite Herb Brooks in the moment of sending his boys out to skate versus Tretiak, but my best effort at one in the morning the night before.

The bounces went our way, combined with hard skating, preparation, and significant quantities of teamwork. Our goalie came up huge, stopping three breakaways and controlling rebounds behind or to the side of the net. Blend excitement, 50 screaming fans, 15 players, 3 coaches, and one slightly loud timekeeper (yours truly) with ice for 36 minutes, and our little Devils managed a 5-3 win, sending them to the state championship game.

Sunday's game saw the bounces go the other way. No matter how hard or frequently we shot the puck, we couldn't find the net, and we lost 4-1. Net net on the net, though, our team brought home the New Jersey State silver medal for our group, on the silver anniversary weekend of the Miracle on Ice in Lake Placid.

And when the renovations to our beloved South Mountain Arena are done, and the new trophy cases display the pride of the Devils, we have a spot reserved for our team trophy. Among my son, his teammates, and me, I'm not sure who will be most proud of this weekend, but the memories will easily last another twenty five years.

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