For better or for worse, hockey has always been a huge part of my life. Whether it’s writing and podcasting here at Pensblog, my current job at the Nailers or playing/coaching for several teams and companies around the Greater Pittsburgh area, it’s pretty much been 26 years dedicated to this sport.
When you only get a limited 24 hours with Lord Stanley’s Cup, what do you do with it?
Well, you give back to the game that’s given you everything.
The first stop we’re making is Dick’s (lol) Diner on Route 22 in Murrysville. For 12 years, from the time I was 6 until I was 18, I was on the Allegheny Badgers. As soon as our corps group became old enough to drive? Saturday morning post-practice breakfast and lunch was frequently at DD’s.
Next, what kind of hockey player doesn’t golf? For my Delmont/Murrysville-dwellers, we’re keeping it local. Man of the people kind of stuff. We’ll be playing a quick 18 at Cloverleaf. Much like DD’s, a lot of rounds of golf were played here (still are, see you on the 19th).
Lastly, to the place where it all began (Okay, Pittsburgh youth hockey knowers, it was technically Golden Mile, but it’s a gymnastics academy now, so…) Center Ice Arena. Twelve seasons in the black and grey and days, if not years, were spent at this rink, so it’s fitting we’ll play a little shinny. This time however, rather than a Pittsburgh Amateur Hockey League banner, we’ll be playing for a shinier piece of hardware. Sure it won’t be long before JJ cherry-picks, JB decides getting hit with a puck is ridiculous for a goalie and I miss the net for the thousandth time, it won’t matter. It will be just like high school.
I take that back – there’s one last thing.
When I was five years old, my dad (may he rest in peace) signed me up to play youth soccer at the Penn Hills YMCA. Only a few games into the “season” young Pat decided to take a seat, right in the middle of the pitch, during play no less.
“Dad,” I said. “I know how to skate. This sport is stupid. I want to play hockey.”
I was signed up that week.
So, lastly, we’ll be taking a drive out there. To that same soccer field. Just me, myself and a good cigar.
Dad, you started this love affair and this is the pay off.
This one’s for you.