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08-05-2009, 08:40 PM
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TessiTheHockeyAddict's Avatar
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Montreal
Country: Canada
Posts: 46
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I had only begun to play hockey when I was sixteen years old and in my last year of high school. On the first day of try-outs, I realized that my skating wasn't good enough to be on the team. But the coach saw the desire in me to play. He asked me if I wanted to try out as a goaltender and I accepted.

Why start so late, though? Don't all Canadians start loving hockey from a very young age? Not in my case. I wasn't often exposed to it. I didn't even start learning to skate until I was about 13 years old. Either way, my own, personal love affair with hockey began when I was fourteen years old. My mother was watching the Montreal Canadiens on TV during their 2005-06 playoff run. I ended up watching whole games and that's when my passion began to grow really quickly. I learned the rules of the game fast and I taught myself some basic Habs history. You know, about all the glory of being one of the oldest franchises in the NHL and having 24 Stanley Cups, more than any other team, who were the legendary players...

So, during the 2006-07 season, I religiously watched all 82 Habs games. In high school, the hockey teams (for boys, there were the Pee-Wee, Bantam and Juvenile divisions; for girls, there was one team for the whole school) were called the Sabres and although I felt like joining, I didn't. I don't know why I waited until my last year of high school to start playing, but I accepted my mistake and I regret nothing.

During the 2007-08 season, I watched every single Habs game, once again, and being in my final year at my high school, College Notre-Dame, I went to the try-outs for the girls hockey team, the Sabres Feminin. Like I said before, my coach suggested for me to be a goalie, which I did. I learned very quickly and it wasn't long before I played my first full game. We lost 10-0 against a very good team. But you have to start somewhere. My coach named me first star of the game for "being thrown into the fire for the first time." By the end of the season, I had played half of our games (not including exhibitions and mini-tournaments organized by other schools) and the main goalie, Marie, played the other half. We had made it to the playoffs, but we were eliminated in the semi-final. Only Marie played those games; to make a long story short, she was a lazy goalie and it cost the team quite a bit.

Throughout the year, you could tell that our coach, Sylvain, was getting more and more frustrated with Marie's laziness. Right after the playoffs, the Sabres Feminin were scheduled to go to the Quebec Provincial Hockey Championship, from April 17-20, 2008, a month from our playoff elimination. Sylvain had planned a few practices in wake of the competition, but Marie emailed him, saying that she wouldn't be going to the practices or to the Championship because her parents don't want her going. If that were the case, Sylvain thought, her parents would've called him. But they didn't, and Sylvain had reached the end of his patience. He dismissed Marie from the team. In one day, I went from rookie back-up goalie to the one and only number-one goalie. I'd have all the ice time at the Championship and I felt ready for such a challenge.

So there we were, the Sabres Feminin du College Notre-Dame, playing hockey in various arenas in Sorel. Hockey is pretty much all they have as entertainment there, seeing as it's all farmland, so they build really nice arenas for themselves. They're not comparable to the Bell Centre, but they're really nice and big. One of them even had a decent-looking jumbotron. Anyway, we played a total of four games over 3 days. On the first day, we played one game and won by a score of 4-2. I was named MVP on my team because I had managed to shut out the opponent until the last minute of the game, where the whole team kinda slacked off. I couldn't see one of the shots that got past me, and the other one was coming pretty slowly towards me, but still managed to squeeze past me. I hate those kinds of goals. The next day, we played two games. The first game was another victory, this time the score was 11-2. I wasn't named MVP simply because the other girls had done an excellent job in putting the puck in the net at the other end. Later, we played another game, which would decide who, between the Sabres and the Drakkars de Ste-Therese, would play for the gold medal game. The loser would play for bronze. We lost 5-0 to a very powerful team and because my defencemen abandoned me in the last period. (Each team would play two periods, then they'd pass the Zamboni and then we'd play the last period. I know, it's retarded.) We had met our match. Of course, our team was tired. It was the second game of the day. As the game neared its end, I was so disappointed that I was kneeling on the ice, waiting for the play to start again, and I was close to tears, but I couldn't cry, just because I was happy to have come so far. The team returned to Sorel the next day with the hopes of beating Chateauguay Valley Regional to win the bronze medal. Our team had so many scoring chances, but CVR never really had one on me. Finally, we scored, leading 1-0. The game turned into a nail-biter from then, especially when CVR came millimetres away from tying the game. Everyone was crowded around my net, some trying to clear the puck, others trying to push it past me. Their sticks kept trying to hack at the puck while I tried to freeze it with my glove. All of a sudden, out of the corner of my eye, I saw the puck fly up near my shoulder, which I used to block it. One of the CVR girls saw that and groaned with frustration. It gave me a sick sense of satisfaction, though. One of my teammates cleared the puck after I blocked it and I could hear cheers coming from the Sabres supporters sitting in the stands and from my teammates on the bench. Next thing I know, there's ten seconds left; the girls began to count down. Then the buzzer sounded and I was surrounded by all of them, receiving congratulations in the form of bear hugs, high-fives and head bumps. Then we all lined up on the blue line, facing the other team and waiting for our medals. The referees were standing near me, discussing who they thought would get the MVP on my team. Two of them figured it would be me, since I shut out CVR. They were right; I got my second MVP award of the tournament plus a bronze medal. Not bad for a rookie, not bad at all.

That was the last time I got on the ice with the Sabres. There was still a month and a half of school left. My grandfather (from my mother's side) owns a Greek restaurant called Mythos and I suggested to Sylvain to have a team supper there to hand out trophies. He liked the idea, so we did it on June 3rd, 2008. As we ate, Sylvain and his assistant coach, Genevieve, announced the winners of the trophies. The categories were: best offensive/defensive player, most improved, most perservering, most "Star of the Game" points collected and "Sabres of the year". I won the most-improved category. My coach told me, loud for everyone to hear, that I won by unanimous vote. Every single one of my teammates had chosen me as the first of the three most improved players. You can imagine the shock on my face, and the pride I felt at that moment.

After graduation - well, way before that, actually - I had vowed to continue playing hockey. Of course, since my college has no ice hockey team, I had to sign up with a league. At the end of August, I registered with Hockey Montreal Feminin, obviously an all-girls league. I can play there until I'm 21.

Now for the 2008-2009 season. The Habs weren't too great, but they were better than my Canadiennes de Montreal team. We were the second worst Midget B team of our league. You might think I'm biased when I say this, but we had some good players, but a horrible coach whose idea of a good practice session was skating around the first face-off circle, then the center ice circle, followed by the other face-off circle and shooting on the goalie. No one learned much; I learned to be good in one-on-one situations and the rest of the girls learned to be good in shoot-outs, which we don't even have in our league. Just penalty shots. But what about making good offensive/defensive plays? What about me being good at 2-on-1 or 3-on-2 situations and what not? How are we supposed to become better players? We knew we could've been a better team when one day, the assistant coach was making us practice. He made us do real hockey drills.

And yet, we still went to a tournament in Gatineau, Quebec and came back with a silver medal. I believe we played four games. All of them went well. I was supposed to play the final, but I got pulled after I let in 2 quick goals. One was really bad, but the other one was an unstoppable tip-in (my coach didn't think so... dummy). It hit someone's stick in front of me and flew up over my shoulder. He told me he had hoped that putting Tatiana, the other goalie and my good friend, in would shake up the team and make them play better (because they weren't doing too well, either), but we had to settle for second best. He later admitted I wasn't THAT bad.

Since we only have 8 Midget B teams, our team made it to the playoffs, but, to make a long story short, we didn't last long. Now I'm sitting here, dying for the 2009-10 season to start, as much for my league as for the NHL.

And that's my hockey "career" so far. It's only been a year, but I've already got a silver medal, a bronze medal, two MVP awards and a most-improved trophy. Since I plan to play until my body can't take it anymore, I'm hoping to add to the collection. I've still got a lot to learn, though.

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