Jock Talk with Joel Charron: Gino hard and gino often

 

For many years I’ve stood behind the boards watching players effortlessly glide along the ice like it was second nature.

I’ve watched thousands of pucks zip past the goalie while all the time think in my head ‘That looks easy enough, I can do that.’

So when Midget Major sniper Frank “Sauce” Desjardins texted me on Monday afternoon to get my hands on some ice hockey equipment and join the team on the ice, it was a no brainer.

At age 31, I played my first ice hockey game.

Having never played before first thing was finding someone who would lend me their equipment for a few hours. Little did I know that finding the equipment would be the easiest part of my night.

It took all of five minutes for Zak Parlette to answer a group text sent out by me.

Parlette was kind enough to offer  his equipment so I could make a fool of myself for one night.

With Parlette’s equipment safely sitting in my car, I patiently waited for 8 p.m. to roll around so I could head to the complex, while planning my goal celebration in my head over and over again if I was lucky enough to pop one it.

I was the first to the complex, walking through the sliding glass doors with a hockey back slung over my shoulder for the first time with a big goofy smile slipped around my face.

After a few hellos and plenty of laughs when I revealed what I was doing with a hockey bag, I walked into Room 5, placed the bag on the floor and sat on the bench, once again planning my celebration.

One by one the boys started to arrive, first it was assistant coach Wes Ewer, with a big smile of his own when he saw me sitting in the locker room. Wes had tried getting me on the ice a few months prior but because of work commitments at the time I was unable to fulfill his request, but that would all change in less than an hour.

After an impromptu pregame interview with Nick Keeler (you can see my pregame interview on Facebook) it was time to get dressed.

As I’m putting on the equipment piece by piece, I felt like a medieval knight strapping on his armor as he heads into battle.

With everything in place and a bucket on my dome, I made my way to the ice.

As I stood on the edge of the rink about to take my first step onto the ice my only thought was ‘don’t fall.’

 

Ice time with the Amherstburg Midget Major Stars and friends.

I want to say I stepped on the ice and glided down the ice and took warm-up but in reality, when I took my first steps on the ice, just picture that scene where Bambi took his first steps, it looked an awful lot like that.

Moments before puck drop, Stars head coach Matt Fox gave me a crash course on how to shoot.

“Bend your knees, keep you balance low, keep a wide stance and hold your stick like this,” he instructed me.

Then it was time.

I want to say that in my first shift, I jumped into the rush and lead a charge down the ice and made a contribution to my team, but in reality, I barely got enough momentum to carry me past the opposing teams blue line. When I did make it past the blue line the play was going the other way. When I’d awkwardly turned around and headed the other way, the play would zip past me leaving my head spinning and made my way back to the bench for cheers and jeers.

“Watching you out on the ice is like a dad watching his kid skate for the first time,” joked assistant coach T.J. McWhnnie.

I took a couple shifts and came close to scoring and would have, if I had kept my stick on the ice.

While on the bench, Fox leaned over and gave me some advice, “Just park yourself in front of the net,” he said. “We’ll take care of the rest.”

So I did just that and two shifts later this happened:

Jake Topliffe sent me in the zone on a pass, as I picked it up on the right side and circled around the net before coming around the left side and buried it five hole on Mike Popel for my first gino.

I took a page out of Teemu Selanne’s book, threw up my glove and shot it down.

The rest of the game went well, I got tired quickly and only took a few shifts here and there.

I went two for three in the shootout, two for three in faceoffs, held a +4 rating, named first star and got the big interview from Duncan Scott (you can see that on Facebook as well.)

I have a greater appreciation for hockey players now. Those kids make it look so easy, like anyone can do it…trust me, hockey is not an easy sport and not everyone can do it.

I may never step on the ice again and if I don’t, I’m ok with that, it was a pleasure to share the ice with a group of classy guys like that.

If I take one thing away from this experience it’s this: “If you’re going to gino, gino hard and gino often.”

 

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