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Because We're A Family

 I recall watching one or two episodes of Sex In The City, I was just flipping channels honest, in the show something would always happen in Carrie Bradshaw’s life that brought meaning to her next column. I would like this blog to be about more than just scores but I will pass on some recent events.  High school hockey games have been cancelled on a regular basis for a variety of reasons so far this year. Our team has not played a league game since January 4th when we lost to Lincoln 4-1.  The team did scrimmage North Kingstown on January 18th losing 5-1. These scores don’t sound so great but like I said in my first blog this is a great team. North Kingstown did not dress a single senior and East Greenwich dressed any player that ever showed up to practice.  At times our players struggled to make plays but they never once showed anything less than a varsity level effort. We lost the games and yet the team still continues on the right track.  On Friday night January 24th the Avengers will play Toll Gate at Thayer Arena in Warwick.  Game time is set for 6:30Pm as long as it is not snowing or we get bumped for an over priced youth tournament.

 

It is not the results of our last two games that have brought me to my latest Carrie Bradshaw like moment of enlightenment; it is what happens in and around the games and practices that I have found myself focusing on.  Recently I have begun watching how high school hockey players interact with their teammates and opponents.  Hockey families have long known that the sport helps teach commitment, teamwork, sportsmanship, discipline, hard work and many other traits that will serve our children well.  Now that so many players that I have known for years have reached the high school level, I am seeing that all of these wonderful traits are taking hold in our young men and are being displayed in the background of games and practices.

 The character of a player that takes the time to skate up to a coach on the opposing team and shake his hand before a game always impresses me. Why would players shake the hand of an opposing teams coach before a game? The answer is because it is Rhode Island and at some point during the players time on the ice that coach played a role in that player’s development and had a positive impact on his game and his life.  Why did the East Greenwich goalie only look up and shake his head as the North Kingstown player that just snowed him skated away smiling? Because it is Rhode Island and these two players started playing hockey together when they were just four years old.  That is not to say that every player should snow their friend the goalie, but given the amount of time these players have spent on the ice together, in hotels together and at each other’s homes, I’m sure the goalie and anyone that knows both players just laughed and thought to themselves, only Stephen could do that and not anger his friend.  As I write this blog I can’t help but think about legendary high school hockey coach Mike Gaffney; it was said that Coach Gaffney’s players would never talk to a player from the other team nor would Coach Gaffney talk to another coach, at the rink at least.  I would sooner stand in front of a train than question the patriarch of one of the great Rhode Island hockey families, however I have to admit watching a South Kingstown player rub a goalies head after a big save or seeing the Alternate Captain for North Kingstown’s team tapping the pads of goalie after a huge breakaway save seems like a good thing to me.  The next time you are at a high school hockey game take note of how many parents applaud outstanding plays that are made by players from the other team.  Take note of how many coaches rub a players head or pull them a little closer as they skate through the line at the end of a game. Before leaving the stands pause for a minute and look at the number of players talking with friends from the other team and count the smiles now that the battle is over. If you take even a few seconds to look around the rink before, during, and after a high school hockey game you will see players, coaches and parents that respect each other and the great sport of hockey.  I’m sure someone reading this is thinking of one or two times something happened at a game that can contradict my view, but what person, team or family is perfect.

My favorite quote from the movie Miracle is “Because we’re a family”.  Rhode Island hockey is a family and it does not matter what color jersey you are wearing, it is always good to be with family. 

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