Hockey at midnight

I shot down the ice. My blades cut into the smooth surface in steady strokes. Ahead of me, the small black disc slid towards the far end. The referee was probably going to blow his whistle, but that didn't mean the defence shouldn't give chase. It was like flying.

Either that, or the fact our game hadn't started until 11:30 pm was addling my brains.

In my league, there are three time slots for games on Saturday night: 9:15, 10:15 and 11:15 pm. A balance is attempted so that no one team gets landed with all the late games, but those slots that we do get are universally hated. This week was a 'make-up' game, due to us missing a match last month because of a tournament. It resulted in a bizarre ice time and, in a strange twist, playing the exact same team as we did the week before. To top it all, this rival team was the one I was on the previous season so I had only the haziest idea of who was friend or foe out there.

Plus, I was exhausted.

Coming off the ice, I decided that next shift I would simply take a nap in front of the goal and hope this was disconcerting enough to cause the other team's shots to all go wide. I was just falling into a light doze on the bench when someone smacked the puck so hard it shot over the barrier. It ricocheted off the wall behind me with a loud bang and flew over my helmet to land by my skate. I picked it up with narrowed eyes and threw it back onto the ice.

"Are you awake now?" asked my team-mate, grinning, as she exchanged places with me.

Oh yes, this had gone too far. I had been hauled out in the middle of the night to play a confusing game against my old team in a surreal parody of the week before. Then to top it all, someone tries to kill me with a puck. I was tired, shocked and suffering from deja vu in which I played on both sides of this match.


Of course, given the previously listed problems, it wasn't obvious who 'they' were going to be.

The puck shot towards the opposition's net and I hung back to mark their right wing player. He was hanging by the blue line, ready to take the puck back down the rink towards our goal. But I had his number, I was on him like a fly on jam --an appropriate analogy since he was wearing a red helmet-- slamming on that pressure that was bound to cause him to make a mistake. Assuming that was, he noticed: he was the size of a bear. I consoled myself with the fact he'd probably trip over me if he turned.

The puck shot out the other side of the zone and I moved for a more prominent position, skating rings around the pursuing player. Literally so, I should add. He looked unsteady on his feet and I thought it might unsettle him. I then played a few rounds of hockey tennis, bouncing the puck toward the opponent's goal as it came my way three times in a row. I think I wasn't the only person having deja vu.

Then we won.

By 'we' I think I mean my current team. Either way, I credit my own awesome defence for the victory... or attack, if it was the other team that came out on top. That'll learn them for waking me up.