Out­side the lines, we’re all the same

The Compass - - SPORTS - Ni­cholas Mercer is a reporter/pho­tog­ra­pher with The Com­pass in Car­bon­ear. He lives in Bay Roberts and can be reached at nmercer@cb­n­com­pass.ca Ni­cholas Mercer

The Wes­ley Gosse Memo­rial Tour­na­ment play­off game be­tween the host As­cen­sion Col­le­giate Astros and the Holy Heart High­landers had barely ended when the Astros gath­ered at their blue-line and started to­wards the High­landers goal.

No one stood in their way as they crossed cen­tre ice and then en­tered the zone.

Cap­tain Cameron Simms was the first to drape his arm around the op­pos­ing goal­tender and of­fer a few words of so­lace. Ear­lier in the week he had lost his fa­ther.

One-by-one As­cen­sion play­ers took turns hug­ging the be­lea­guered ath­lete and of­fer­ing their con­do­lences. No one wants to lose some­one they are close with at such a young age.

Last to meet the griev­ing player was his coun­ter­part at the other end of the rink. Whether it was by de­sign or not, Astros’ goal­tender Aaron Os­borne pat­ted him on the back with his blocker in one of those uni­ver­sal ‘keep your head up’ ac­tions.

Both teams agreed to the large sign of re­spect be­fore­hand. Prior to the start of the third pe­riod, coaches from both teams — Josh Hur­ley (Heart) and Fred Simms (AC) — let the of­fi­cials know.

The ges­ture from the Bay Roberts-based school surely won’t be for­got­ten by ei­ther the player or the team as it be­comes one of those things that lives on in hockey lore.

Re­ally, it should be a story that lives on re­gard­less.

Hockey is a bru­tal sport. At the high school level, full con­tact can take on a new mean­ing, as teenagers with a height­ened tem­per might feel more in­clined to ex­press them­selves phys­i­cally when the bod­ies start fly­ing.

It’s easy to for­get that the guys on the other side could be a good friend or an all right fella off the ice.

Like­wise, it’s easy to for­get young ath­letes could be deal­ing with any­thing in their per­sonal lives.

Is­sues like bad grades, bro­ken re­la­tion­ships or the loss of a par­ent, as in this sit­u­a­tion, are all things that take prece­dent over hockey.

Sports are an out­let. It’s a grand form of es­capism for peo­ple who have is­sues larger than the game.

For at least three pe­ri­ods, ev­ery­thing else melts away.

When the game is over, life starts again.

Out­side the lines, op­po­nents be­come friends and noth­ing else re­ally mat­ters more than that. We need each other to get through the rough patches.

Win­ning is great. Be­ing a great per­son is bet­ter.

A sim­ple show of re­spect on the ice is proof of that.

Out­side the lines, op­po­nents be­come friends and noth­ing else re­ally mat­ters more than that. We need each other to get through the rough patches.

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