28 January 2006

Handsome Nils Manitoba

When I pulled into the driveway last night Sonja's brother Henrik was waiting for me. He had just driven down from 69 Mile House to catch a couple of his son Nils' hockey games and catch up with some with old friends. We were going to the fucking hockey game!

First we drank a bottle of whisky. Those rinks can get cold at night. Then Henrik's dad came over and we drank the other half of the bottle. Sonja was driving to the rink in Sliverville where the 69 Mile House Bush Rats were taking on the Sliverville Silver Fish in Junior 'A' action. This hockey is a level above what my hometown Steepleton Cross Checkers play.

This would also be my first chance to see my nephew play hockey since he was 14 or 15. Since then he has played hockey over much of Western Canada, mostly way back in Manitoba, where he was known as Handsome Nils Manitoba to his female fans. Last time the Rats visited my neck of the woods Nils was injured. Tonight Nils was going to be doing the injuring!

Traffic was light and Sonja's foot was heavy so we got to the Sliverville House of Ice in time to get us some good rink food. After tripping up the stairs into the rink I had a couple burgers and a coke and am still alive to write about the burger juices dripping all over my old Nordique's jersey like dog drool. Nils' team of Bush Rats was finishing their warm up on the ice. His team coldly eyed the Silver Fish like the vermin they are. Everybody in the rink was hoping for a fight or two by two teams hopelessly out of the play-off hunt.

When I went to get some napkins to clean off my jersey I stopped by the souvenir booth. I bought a programme and talked to the guy and his wife selling Silver Fish shit. The old guy was a dead ringer for Brent Butt's dad on Corner Gas. I was wondering how long it would take for him to call me a jackass. He eyed my Nordique's jersey with the contempt most people have for politicians.

"So what do you want ya jackass?"

People around Dope City have never forgiven the Nordiques/Avalanche for signing Joe Sakic. They figure the Canucks would have won ten Stanley Cups with a player like that in the line up. I like to wear my Sakic jersey when I am in the heart of Dope City so they can painfully relive the Stanley Cups Joe has won in Colorado. There are not many Avalanche fans around here.

"I'll take one of those Silver Fish caps old timer."

Just then one of my sister's kids walked by. "Give me a hat for the girl too."

My neice and I were wearing the team colours of what would be the winning team. Her mom said "Nice hat," to my neice. My neice beamed, her red hair poking out from under the white hat like moss on Mars.

My other sister and her Canuck fan husband came to the game too. At least neither one of them were wearing their matching Bertuzzi jerseys. Husband Peter was instead decked out in his Team Canada finest. Canada is so going to lay the lumber on the world in Italy next month. Sister Liz snuck in bottle of rye that went good with my coke.

Sonja's other brother Bjorn's family were there too. Bjorn was taking pictures with his fancy digital. His girls gobbled hamburgers, skittles and cokes. Bjorn's wife Lonnie oohed and awed at all the right times as the game unfolded alternately with violence and grace. If you do not think hockey is the greatest team sport ever invented have another fucking beer you loser!

Walking around the rink I noticed there were no police watching out for trouble. I guess the Sliverville police have more important things to do than keep the local hockey crowd under control.

My nephew played well. He straight armed an unwary Silver Fish into the ice and made several nice passes. It was nice to see how the coach increased his ice time as the game wore on.

I had to be controlled by several of my relatives when the referee made bad calls. I am the biggest jackass of a sports fan you ever laid eyes on. At Junior 'A' games you are close enough to the action to hit the referee with a battery or what ever else you have handy. Trouble is you cannot get lost in the crowd like could do back in my soccer match days in England where I learned how to be a jackass sports fan. I have spilled more beer on people at sporting events than is poured onto the grass by the police on a hot summer's night on the beaches around here. Do not sit by Mr. Beer N. Hockey.

The hockey was fast. The Silver Fish jumped out to an early lead. The Bush Rats chewed into the lead until they were tied. Then the Fish swarmed the Rats in overtime for the win. The bundle of teenage girls sitting near us screamed like the ghost of Bobby Sherman had scored the winning goal.

Too bad the score was too close for there to be any punch ups. Tonight may be different as the Bush Rats go up against a team that might just try and run up the score on them.

It sounds like my nephew may be excused from the bus ride home with his team so he can ride home with his dad after he has pounded some beer and whisky with his beer 'n' hockey fan dad and uncle.

My only role in the development of my hockey playing nephew was shooting a ball at his head one summer when he thought maybe he could be a goalie. When old geezer me, who had not shot anything but maybe a little coke since his early twenties, nearly took his head off with my first wrist shot he decided to stick with his defence position.

Just the same I felt real proud for the young man out there smashing bodies and gliding like Rob Blake on the blue line.

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