At the time of year when Valentine's Day is just around the corner, I thought it would be appropriate that I tell a story of how my love affair with hockey brought me to the love of my life. I'd love to say that our story started on a beach, by the lake, or in a romantically dimmed restaurant, but the truth is that my dating years with my husband were mostly spent in the arena…jealous? I wanted to tell you this story because I think it’s fair to say that the second he skated on the ice something happened to him. In my book, I talked a lot about the affect hockey had on me as a hockey Mom. I always felt like our story made him look so good as a hockey parent because he always remained calm. I knew watching the game for him was much easier than playing, because once he hit the ice, it was another story.
I'm sure everyone has a story of the quiet, well-spoken young player who they loved to have in their home for dinner. They were always the kids with amazing manners. The ones you felt were not capable of bad tempers or bad language. Then, inevitably, there is a moment in the season when you went to a game and were totally shocked to see this gentle soul throwing someone into the boards, yelling words you’ve never heard before with a terrifying look on their face. Does anyone else know this player? In my case, I married him.
I'm not exactly sure what happens to some people when they lace up those skates but it’s fair to say that the game can send people into another version of themselves. My husband is one of those people that will always have youthful eyes and a gentle soul. He is not a man of many words and will often stand in the back of the crowd. He is always friendly to people he meets and, as my brothers have said many times, he’s exactly the kind of guy you want your sister to date. I listened to their advice and decided I would go out with him. We decided to go to dinner after his hockey game so I met him at the rink.
Here is a story from the book that describes that moment when my love of hockey brought me to the love of my life…
I anxiously arrived during game time and walked up to watch him from behind the glass. The game was in a little old arena near my home town. It was the kind of rink where the whole town comes out and everyone knew everyone. If you didn’t get there early enough it was difficult to find a spot to watch. I squeezed into the only free section behind the glass, trying hard to find my knight in shining armour. Although I didn’t see him right away, I did see my brother being pushed towards the glass in a violent fashion. He looked like a cartoon character that gets smashed into a wall and his whole body goes flat. The little sister in me wanted to find the jerk that did this to him and pound him (guess I was protective of them too). But when I looked up, I found that my knight in shining armour was the same jerk that just flattened my brother into wallpaper! It was the first time that I witnessed firsthand how this sport can turn individuals into completely different people once their skates hit the ice. I knew in that moment that I was done with this guy. Who would stay with a man who would do this to their brother?
Needless to say, a few years later, we were married.
I can say that marrying him was the best decision of my life, but if you ever asked me if I wanted to play hockey against him, it would be a hard “NO!” The refreshing part for me is that every time I felt embarrassed about the fact that the passion for the game had turned me inside out, I’d remember that day in a little rink when I saw how passionate he was about the game and I knew it was something we had in common.
Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! Remember, if you spend it in the arena, it might be the beginning of a great love story!
- Written by Allyson Tufts