I can’t believe it’s 2019. Seems just like yesterday when I saw Tony Esposito on TV and said to my parents, “That’s me!”
I was five at the time, and right then I knew I wanted to be a goalie. 1971 found me cutting up couch cushions to make street hockey goalie pads. 1972 was the year when I got my first set of actual ice hockey goalie equipment.. It was a Sunday morning in Watertown, MA and my mom and dad were in their room. My dad casually asked me to get him some cookies from the pantry. When I turned the kitchen corner, there on the pantry floor was a complete set of goalie equipment! I ran all over the house shouting, “I’m a real goalie now!” I was so happy. What a journey goaltending has taken me through the years. 1973, and I’m a Pee Wee goalie in the Watertown Youth Hockey league. I blink once, and it’s 1978. I’m the backup goalie for Christopher Columbus High School JV team. I blink again, and a slap shot explodes off my pads–I’m tending goal in 1982 for the South Florida Hockey League. Fast forward to 1986. I look down at my jersey and I’m in goal for the Bunker Hill Community College club team. Time seems to fast-forward from there. I’m looking at my scrapbook at all the groups I’ve skated with. The 90’s, up to 2000 was filled with so many ice rentals, some men’s leagues, and countless stick practice sessions. All that experience, and still it wasn’t enough when I filled in with the Boston Bruins alumni for their practice skates. I found out quick the difference between playing with your friends and the professionals you see on your TV screen at night.
And now it’s 2019. I play with a wonderful group that makes me feel like I did when I played in Watertown.
Life has changed so much over the years. Part of me is sad when the new year rolls in. Perhaps it’s because you have to say goodbye to that time period. True, it’s just one year removed… but funny how fast last year can turn into 30 years ago.
I have a lifetime of memories. I can see all the faces of everyone I’ve ever skated with. Some, I have not seen in ages. Others are still shooting pucks at me. From the first six-year-old kid who’s shot was my first-ever save in 1970, to the puck that beat me over my blocker and under the crossbar two days ago, each moment has shaped me.
To everyone who I’ve ever skated with, I just want to say thank you. I hope when you are reminiscing, that I am part of your hockey memories.
…and now, with 2019 here, time to continue enjoying the game we love so much. Happy New Year, everyone!
Jay… and Small Saves!