Sitting in somewhat sunny Chandler Arizona, having experienced about a thirty degree (C) shift in temperature, it seems appropriate to go to an arena and get cold again. But that raised an interesting question.
Why would a Canadian who loves to ski leave the sunny confines of the hill and travel by “air cattle car” only to land and find the temperature has shifted a meagre amount and then, almost immediately, goes to an arena to watch hockey?
Well it isn’t as complicated as one might think. First of all, as you know, it was still pretty cold on the ski hill. Secondly Air Miles some time ago had threatened to cancel points of some of us who don’t use them very much. Thirdly, the Cactus Cup minor hockey tournament was on during Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend in the Greater Phoenix Area (GPA).
The first reason is pretty spurious so we’ll ignore it right off the bat.
The second turned out to be unnecessary, but once the points were used, they couldn’t be returned. And surprisingly enough there was a round trip ticket to PHX from YYF available. Of course it also turned out to be a pretty humbling moment for a Star Alliance Gold traveler who has flown well over one million miles at Air Canada. This time, thanks to Air Miles, I got to return to the back of the cattle car — the very last row of a long, lean air craft. Luckily I still had access to Air Canada’s Maple Leaf Lounge so I could get all the key newspapers and I already had several ear-bud earphones so I could hear the music and read the news. And at least the planes were run by Air Canada/Rouge flight attendants so the service on board was fine. But boy are those seats small and the leg room designer obviously assumed that I had detachable legs that I could put up on the luggage rack. But enough of this complaining — I got to my destination and AVIS upgraded my car — to a Mustang Convertible…. I guess with all the inclement weather no one was renting them so they could afford to be benificient.
The third reason is the real reason. Grandkids are playing in this tournament on two separate teams….But that then leads to a second question.
What should a person do when two of his Grandsons play on one team and the third plays on another and they are both seeded on the same side of the tournament?
Both teams actually had a good tournament. They won their three games each and played very well. The goalie won his game and the other two were on the score sheets in their victories. While I missed the first round of games, I did get to see the other two rounds and for Bantams, I was quite impressed. I must admit that some kids playing Bantam hockey seem quite big, but I also discovered that the smaller kids seem to be very fast skaters. (Now my memory may be a bit shaky now, but I played in a Bantam league when I was in Grade IX at Woodstock Collegiate Institute and the kids weren’t that big nor were even the fastest that fast… must be the cereals they are now fed!!)
The victories were relatively substantial although one game was decided by a single goal. This turned out to be important because four teams ended up undefeated although one of them did have one tie. To decide the seedings for the semi-finals the tourney uses a goal-differential approach and each victory is scored by the number of goals for minus those against, with a maximum of five in either direction. One team had won each of its games by more than five goals so it had a +15 and was seeded first. The teams of the brothers were then seeded 2nd & 3rd.
This led to a very interesting Sunday evening. For the first time in their young hockey lives, the twins were slated to face-off against their younger brother. Now due to the rotational nature of the goal-tending, it was not the time for Hayden to play so that meant Connor and Brendan would pay against each other but neither could be responsible for goals against Hayden as he was on the bench. But that didn’t lessen the spirit of competition. The game was incredibly close, especially considering that the twins’ team is Bantam AA and Brendan’s Bantam A — with 5 minutes left, 2-1 for Mission. The only real concern I was having was the inconsistency in the officiating. The Jr Sun Devils goalie got run over and had to leave the game — no penalty and now a cold goalie coming in. There already had been a controversial second goal and the teams were both tiring a bit so it was a little chippier. A questionable penalty was assessed and a third goal was scored. Then with the open net (the goalie pulled for a sixth attacker) and a stick thrown into the crease, there was no whistle and a fourth goal scored. It was both a tough win and a tough loss…
Since the tourney did not award bronze medals, there was now only a championship game which was played today. The team from California had beaten all its teams by big margins however in the final there was no such blowout. Although they outshot the Mission team 24-11, Hayden kept them in the game — the final score was 2-1 with the second goal being scored while a California player was laying across Hayden in the crease (no whistle, no penalty!!). It was a great game though and the team did earn silver medals. I was glad I’d come. I just wish that officials would be more consistent and balanced — I know they won’t be perfect, but they can be fair especially on the obvious calls.
What does a Grandpa do when the teams finish playing early in the day and there is a lot of free time available, as was the case on Saturday?
Well, when there is a Coldstone Ice Cream Shoppe nearby the answer becomes a little easier. We all piled into the crew cab pick-up and headed off to have some treats. The ice cream was delicious. So that suggested we should then go see a movie. The boys selected Patriots Day and off we went. It is a great movie, well acted and very well directed. We all enjoyed it immensely. (And I’d recommend it to anyone who wants to go to see a serious subject, treated seriously!!) And that brought us to the end of that day.
And so now here we are near the end of Martin Luther King Jr weekend having watched six enjoyable hockey games, had some great ice cream, watched a great movie and had lots of fun moments. Tomorrow kids will return to school. Parents will return to work. And a plane will return to Canada. It is a real blessing to have Grandkids…they add so much to life…thank you, because there’s no question about that!!