The most important thing I have learned as a parent is, "Never say never." This past weekend, I learned that this applies to hockey too.
Matt and I always vowed that none of our kids would be goalies. NEVER. Aside from that astronomical cost of goalie equipment, the experience of seeing the 12th goal slide past a 5 year old Patrick convinced me that neither my heart, nor my stomach could handle being a goalie's mom.
Damon really enjoyed his experiences as a goalie, and to his credit, he was a pretty decent goalie. Still, it was easy enough to convince him that his size and strength as a defenseman were far more valuable to his team.
Back in December, in the middle of a crazy weekend, Campbell had his first turn in net. Matt was accompanying Patrick and his team on a weekend away series. Damon had a tournament near Grandpa Bob's house, so the girls and I were there with Damon. Campbell's coach's family offered to keep him for the weekend so that he wouldn't miss the team Christmas Party and his turn in net. Damon's team lost in the semi-finals, giving me just enough time to get home to see Campbell's game. The photos here are of him on that day.
First a little bit of background, at the beginning of the season, MB, one of our players really started to stand out. By December, he was easily scoring 8 or 10 goals a game. His parents cautiously decided to move him up to the next age level so that he would be challenged a bit more. So when Campbell first played net, MB dominated the play, and Campbell only saw 3 shots on net. 1 went in, but we still won because MB scored a few hat-tricks.
That same week we had an "interlock" game with another arena's team, and no other goalies would have a chance to practice, Campbell got a second chance in net. This time he faced many more shots, and showed some impressive moves, helping his team win the game with a score of 5-2. Campbell won a "Super Sport" award for that game and I heard from all of the other parents how wonderful he was.
After watching everybody on the team took a turn in net, our coach needed to decide who was going to be in net for playoffs. I knew that he was impressed with Campbell, so I told Matt to tell the coach that he could have Campbell in net for alternate games, because I needed a week in between to recover my nerves. So when the coach asked Matt if Campbell would be the goalie for the playoffs, Matt looked down at a beaming Campbell and said, "Sure".
For weeks, Campbell let everybody know that he was going to be the playoff goalie. Family members, classmates, our family doctor, the cashier at the grocery store, they all knew that he, Campbell, would be the goalie for the playoffs. When it came time for a haircut, Campbell decided he needed a goalie haircut. So he asked Patrick who the best goalie in the whole wide world was. Patrick named a few names, and I did some google image searches. No offence to Patrick Roy, Ken Dryden or Dominik Hasek, but when we came across this photo of Martin Brodeur, it was clear to me who the best goalie in the whole wide world was, the one with the haircut that best suited Campbell! The next day we were at the arena all day for Patrick's school hockey tournament. Every hockey acquaintance we ran into at the tournament heard this, "I have da same haiwcut as da best goalie in da whole woild. Mawmmy, what's his name again? Oh yeah Mahtin Brodeu. An' I'm the goalie for da playoffs." At this point I was humouring him, but hoping that this was a phase and that a few tough games between the pipes and he would be singing a different song.
So Sunday rolls around, and we are playing against the top team in the league without MB. This team is used to winning with double digit scores. Campbell made some good saves, and that old feeling of dread in my stomach started to go away. He let a few in, but he got better with each save. By the third period, I found myself hoping that they would get another shot on him so that he could save it again! And I must say that he was just so cute doing it! My stomach was hurting, but that was from all of the cheering and laughing that we were doing watching him hop around in net. He kept his team in it, and the final score was 4-1 for the other team. The shots on net were 31-8 for the other team! He stopped 27. At his age, the goalies normally stop 50% of the shots. The other team's coach came to the bench, where Matt was as an assistant coach, to tell our coaches that the goalie was phenomenal. He asked where the goalie's dad was and Matt raised his hand. And he told Matt that he had a goalie on his hands. Other parents said, "that kid needs to be a goalie." In the hallways, I overheard strangers who had watched the game, "Did you see that kid in net, he was awesome."
When I got to the dressing room, I was surprised to see a teary-eyed Campbell. He was devastated. He wanted nothing less than a shut out. Matt and I reminded him that he played a very good team and then the coach started giving a speech about what an outstanding job Campbell did. Every parent and child from the team came and congratulated Campbell on his performance before they went home. That gave him some comfort.
His brothers gave him respect for the rest of the day. Damon was offering to carry his equipment to the van for him. Patrick was fussing over him all day. And little Campbell just basked in the glory.
So I learned that goalies do happen. And so does shameless bragging. Never say never.