I’m not normally a morning person, usually I can’t stand the heat of the sun beaming against my face as the rays sneak through the blinds the ruthlessly wake me up, but today was a different kind of morning. Right from the get go I knew this was no average day, my stomach was turning as my mind wandered. I was freaking out, my nerves were running like a thundering herd because I knew that today was different, today was the Regional Championship against Catholic Central. I woke up facing a harsh reality, win and continue playing hockey, lose and you have played your last meaningful game with all of your friends. That reality came with a crushing truth, my life for the last twelve years would either continue on as normal or it would face a dramatic truth that hockey was no longer going to be my everything. As nervous as I was, I was also anxious, I wanted nothing more than to end CC’s season and live to play another game with my best friends. I knew there was only one way to do this, I had to be a contributing member of the Spartans lineup, and I had to help my teammates bring the Shamrocks crumbling to their knees to suffer the agonizing pain of defeat.
The time on the road has always been one of my favorite things about playing High School hockey with my friends. Those bus trips were filled with shenanigans and irreplaceable memories. After a while you’re able to develop a natural instinct that helps you sense when the ride is coming to an end. Today was no different, as we were turning onto Nick Lidstrom drive I could tell it was time. The bus slowly came to a stop and as I looked up I saw the green and white awning of Novi Ice Arena, the awning read “Welcome to Novi Ice Arena”. I looked at my line mate and nodded as a confident grin appeared on my face, he nodded back as we stood up to make our way out of the bus for the big game.
I grabbed my equipment bag and threw it over my right shoulder, shortly after I put my head phones on and Tom Morello’s electric guitar riffs took my mind to a state of peace. As I took the first steps off the bus I looked up and saw a sea of double blue and white, our fellow classmates had shown up and were decked out in Spartans gear. This no longer felt like a road game, this was a home game away from home. That calm, confident smile arose on my face again as I walked into the arena and sensed the electricity in the air, signs for both teams were plastered all over the walls as I walked down the stairs towards the visitor’s locker room. I felt like a rock star walking into the locker room, the parking lot was full and the crowd was abundant, the only things missing were velvet ropes and the girls pounding on our door trying to get into the locker room. In the locker room I started with stretching, slowly moving my body, avoiding any jerky motions as I tried to warm up my body before putting on my foul smelling gear.
With my gear on I looked around the room and saw 19 other gladiators suited up for battle, all eagerly listening to Coach Mitchell and his game plan, we trusted that he had the perfect game plan to defeat our opponents. Earlier in the season we met the Shamrocks at their home building and even though we walked out of there with a loss we knew we were going to be meeting in the playoffs, but I don’t think anybody expected it to be in the Regional Finals. With game time approaching, I listened to the final seconds of Rage Against the Machine’s hit song “Know Your Enemy”, as Zack De La Rocha let out his thunderous roar I took my head phones off and made that long walk down the corridor to the rink.
As the Zamboni left the ice our goaltender would hit the ice first, after he stepped on the sounds of a thundering herd echoed from the ice throughout the arena. You could hear the sharp cuts being made on the ice as our steel blades carved into the ice. After a great warm-up our team gathered on the goal line for the National Anthem. The young female...