Cleat Geeks

FEELGOOD FRIDAY; A CHILD’S FIRST NHL EXPERIENCE

Hockey is the world’s fastest paced game in professional team sports. The matchups for the most part, are as cold as the ice itself; hardnosed, in your face, and full of intrigue until the end. Daily, players are scrutinized for what they do, and do not do, on the ice. When a team is on a winning streak, they are seen as the current team to emulate for consistent play. One loss can result in a 180 degree downward spiral for a team’s fan base bashing them and questioning whether they’re as stable as thought; previous to the nights’ event. Fans scrutinize stats, overall game play, scoring, goaltending and many other aspects. This is what fans do, and it is the overall consensus for those that watch the games and teams they love. For those new generational children growing up into the sport, it is a much different experience.

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For a child who begins watching hockey and ultimately loving it, it’s hard to differ from what shines more. Is it the players on the ice, or the look of a child’s eyes witnessing the experience? These newly solidified little fans are not worried about stats, specific players and in their first few experiences, not even the end score. They can only barely begin rationalizing a love for the team they begin watching, whom their parents express so much enigmatic energy in supporting.

CAPTAIN DAVID BACKES

DAVID BACKES FLIPPING MY SON A PRE-GAME PUCK

This enjoyment also comes from watching the game unfold. From the sound of the skates on the ice, to the crisp sound a stick makes receiving a puck. A further culmination of a brilliant well placed hit along the boards or open ice. The cheers from the fans on a great play, or the sound of the horn when the puck finds the back of the net. These are but a few instances that keep these new fans interested. They cannot conceive of the actual concept to the game. They only begin to understand the basic concept that one set of colored jerseys are supposed to put the puck into the net of the opposing colored jersey’s. My son has explained this to me many times at age 4, as if he’s the teacher and I’m the student.

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My son’s first game was definitely a memorable one for him. Captain David Backes of the St. Louis Blues, did something for my son that outweighed the rest of the nights performance’s. It was a very humbling act that shows just how much David Backes cares about more than the game itself. He graciously flipped my son a pregame practice puck, leaving my son without words. Defenseman Barrett Jackman also came up during the pregame and gave him a smile, before ultimately giving him an out of body experience. After smiling at my son, he took his stick and smacked the glass right at my son’s face and chuckled as he went back to taking pregame shots against Jake Allen. The pictures taken, will stand as memories that he can someday look back to from a night he will always remember. The look of amazement on his face, however; will forever mean more than any picture can replicate. This was the night that the St. Louis Blues became his undisputed favorite team.

BARRETT JACKMAN

D-MAN: BARRETT JACKMAN

The night ended with the St. Louis Blues defeating the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 in the shootout. We left with the little guy hiding his exhaustion from the game, covered by the still fresh excitement on his face. As soon as we were able to leave the PNC Arena and find our car, he passed out no more than ten minutes after buckling him in. I then drove the four hour trek back home, knowing the happiness that I had just gotten to experience with my son. One that I never got to enjoy with my own father. This is further proof, that it isn’t the games that make the events so important. It’s the memories that we’re able to make while we enjoy them.

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