The two sides of the novice coin

The Compass - - SPORTS - Ni­cholas Mercer

On the weekend of Jan. 17-19, I had the plea­sure of tak­ing in some elec­tri­fy­ing novice hockey ac­tion at the Bay Arena in Bay Roberts.

It was Bay Arena mi­nor’s an­nual novice jam­boree and fea­tured 17 teams from all over the prov­ince. To say the sta­dium was a bee­hive of ac­tiv­ity — both off and on the ice — would be an un­der­state­ment.

If I could of­fer my hum­ble opin­ion, novice hockey and lower are the purest forms of the game.

Watch­ing the games un­fold, I could not help but smile as the young skaters put ev­ery­thing they had into any par­tic­u­lar two-minute shift.

Whether they are jostling for po­si­tion or try­ing to score that first goal, it’s pure en­joy­ment.

Some were bet­ter than oth­ers, but that is to be ex­pected, but at this level that does not mat­ter.

At this level, the play­ers are still learn­ing the game. They’re still be­com­ing ac­cus­tomed to the nu­ances of off­side and po­si­tional play.

But, that does not de­tract at all from the pure plea­sure that comes with watch­ing this level.

At times, hockey is not about what is hap­pen­ing on the ice. At times, hockey is about what’s hap­pen­ing on the bench, in the dress­ing room or head­ing to the rink.

Once this sea­son, take a look at the bench and see what’s go­ing on there. On one end, play­ers lis­ten in­tently as their coach points out some things they could do bet­ter while on the other, chil­dren are lit­er­ally jump­ing out of their gear in an­tic­i­pa­tion of their next turn on the ice.

If you’ve ever watched the un­der­rated hockey movie Mys­tery, Alaska, you un­doubt­edly know the scene where char­ac­ter Ste­vie Weeks skates a frozen river.

That’s how I per­ceive a novice player on the ice — free.

In that mo­ment, Weeks is with­out con­fine­ment. When he is on the river there are no rules, he just skates.

In novice, there are no rules. They just play.

Chil­dren are free to make hockey what they want at this level. It’s not about sys­tems or be­ing the right fit.

Ev­ery as­pect of the game is new to th­ese play­ers. It might not seem it, but ev­ery novice game is dif­fer­ent.

Un­like what hockey be­comes as they grow older, which is a game so deeply con­trolled it even­tu­ally starts to look the same, no mat­ter the level.

It’s like writer Walt Streight­iff said, “there are no seven won­ders of the world in the eyes of a child. There are seven mil­lion.”

As they say, there are two sides to ev­ery coin and novice is no dif­fer­ent.

While novice is hockey at its finest, the age group is also where par­ents can pick up their worst habits.

For all of the laugh­ter and shrieks of de­light from par­ents as they watch their chil­dren, there are still par­ents that fo­cus on ac­com­plish­ments and per­sonal play.

There are still the shouts of “go, go, go!”

Th­ese three words put em­pha­sis on the player that should be placed on the team. Think about it. You’re scream­ing for your child to take the puck and go, but his coach is telling him to pass the puck.

You’re the par­ent. You’re voice is like a bea­con in the dark­ness for the player. Who do you think he is go­ing to lis­ten to?

It’s a habit par­ents don’t even know they’re pick­ing up. They just want to see their child be the best he or she can.

As in­no­cent as it sounds at this level, it only com­pounds at the next level.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.