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After The Game

© 2010 Felix_P

Chapter Sixty-eight

Jake was ever the curious boy and he was looking up information on some of the places we went during our time in Naples and Disney the next day after we got back. He did some research on the theme parks and the history of Walt Disney, as well as some of the restaurant chains we ate in.

"Dad, I found some stuff when I did a Google search, about the Cracker Barrel restaurants," Jake said, as he came into the Living room with some printouts from the Internet.

He told Dana and me that in the past they had a written corporate policy against hiring Gays that was only rewritten in 2002 after great pressure from some shareholder groups. He also said that management were being very slow in really adopting the change in policy, according to some other sources he found.

"Are they allowed to do that?" Sean asked, as he had now joined us.

"Laws are different in the US and Canada. A blatantly discriminatory policy like that is forbidden here," Dana said.

She told them that the Canadian Human Rights act and the Ontario Human Rights code prohibit something like that, whether it was written or unwritten.

"That's not fair," Sean said.

"Let's go send them an email to tell them that we don't think it's right," Jake said, as the two of them turned and went off to Jake's computer.

"That is rather disturbing, Al. It'll be interesting to see what sort of reply they get," Dana said.

We then talked about how we were very proud of the two of them for their concern and their willingness to do something about it.

"I'm pleased that they're developing a social conscience. I guess that's another sign that our two young boys are becoming men," I said, with a smile.

"Boys do finally grow up, don't they dear," Dana said with a big smile, as she leaned over and gave me a kiss.

We moved John Webster into a retirement home nearby because it was more convenient than the options presented by the hospital for his continuing rehabilitation. The home had a respite suite available and we had arranged for all his care. He would be getting daily therapy from the travelling physiotherapists working for the Community Care Access System as well as nursing care from the home's staff. John didn't mind his elderly neighbours, as they kept referring to him as the young one.

"Some of the people here move faster than I do some days," he said, as he chuckled.

The boys were pleased that their father would be much closer, as they could make more frequent visits than they had been able to make up to this point. Dana and I were pleased as well, as it would cut down on the driving we had been doing. Garth in particular was much happier, now that his 'daddy' was feeling better and there was hope that they would be together once again as a family.

He had also become quite the little comedian and had discovered how much fun it was to tell jokes. We had heard his repertoire numerous times and he wanted to show off to his father.

"I heard this funny yesterday. When I say knock knock, you have to say who's there," he said to John, as he sat forward on the edge of his seat with a big smile.

John went along with his joke and Garth replied, "Abe."

"Abe who?" John asked.

"Abe C D.... ," he said, as he broke out in a big giggle. John laughed as he ruffled Garth's hair.

Both Garth and Glen went on at length at how much fun they had in Disney and Naples. It was very nice to see Glen get excited about something, as he was so reserved about most things. His father picked up on the change and remarked at how pleased he was, when the boys left the room to go get a drink from the kitchen in the lounge.

"Both boys look like they're much more settled, especially Glen. I can't thank you two enough for what you're doing for them and for me," he said, as he started to get emotional.

"All of us are enjoying having their company, John. They are more settled, but a lot of that's because they know you're getting better," Dana said, with a big smile.

I had a chance to talk to John a little bit about finances, the settlement and his future and I once again emphasized the fact that his life would change for the better, notwithstanding whatever physical limitations he would have. He seemed to be coming to that realization and was much more upbeat about his future. When we got home after getting him settled into his room, Dana was curious as to what I thought the chances were of him being able to work again.

"The doctors are much more confident that he will be able to function as a chef in the future," I said.

She was pleased and once again I asked what she was 'cooking' up with her Daughter Susan and her catering business.

"You know the old fire hall on the main street, a couple of blocks from here. The town is finally going to put it up for sale," she said, as she chuckled at my culinary reference.

I was still puzzled and she finally filled me in on what she was thinking.

"Susan and I have been talking about setting up a gourmet food and gift store and me running the catering business out of the back part of the shop," she said.

She was convinced the old fire hall would serve their purpose, as it had visibility on the main street, as well as the room she needed for setting up a kitchen for her catering business. Her idea was to have the catering kitchen serve a dual purpose. The specialty meats, salads, ready-to-eat dishes and baking would be prepared daily for sale in the front shop, while the rest of the time the kitchen would be used for catering preparation. Susan would own and run the front shop while Dana's catering business worked out of the back. John would be the head chef.

"That's still a pretty big facility. More than you need. The whole upstairs would be wasted space."

She smiled and said, "With a little renovation it would make a wonderful apartment for a family you and I know and they'd be very close by."

She had been in touch with the town realty department as to the price and conditions of sale and she had her accountant prepare a business plan. It included joint ownership between John, Dana and Susan and when I looked at it I was impressed, as it was certainly workable. Then she showed me a set of working drawings she had commissioned for the upstairs apartment. It would make a wonderful home for John, Garth and Glen. There was more than ample room, as it was over 2500 sq. ft. of loft space with a separate entrance, complete with an elevator, if John needed it.

"I've been in touch with the contractor you used to renovate the house and he's looked at the drawings and infrastructure and he's confident he can come in on budget," she said.

"I guess we need to be having a conversation with John in the next little while. This will certainly go a long way to making him feel even more settled about his future," I said, as we both smiled.

Both Dana and I looked forward to picking up Garth from school. He was such a happy kid and frequently provided us with our daily chuckle. It was my turn to pick him up the next day and as usual he came out the front door with a number of his friends, as he was a popular kid. When he saw me, he said goodbye to them and bounced on over to the LX.

"We learned about dolphins today," Garth said, as he wiggled into the front seat with his Mickey Mouse backpack still on his back.

"So tell me what you learned about them," I said.

"I can't tell you everything," he said, as he looked at me with a very serious look on his face.

I asked him why not and he said there was something that was a bad word and he was sure I wouldn't want him to use it.

"Was this something your teacher taught you?"

He said that he thought so, but he wasn't sure, as Miguel was asking him a question when she was talking about that part of the lesson.

"Miguel told me what she said though. He found out from Jawinder."

He told me it was about how dolphins breathed, which still didn't explain the secrecy. I finally asked him to tell me everything he learned, including the controversial part.

"Miguel told me Ms. Boyter said a dolphin breathes through an asshole on the top of his head," he said, as he looked down and wouldn't make eye contact. I had to look away so I wouldn't burst out laughing.

Finally I composed myself and said, "I think she said airhole, Garth. Maybe you and Miguel should pay a little more attention when the teacher's speaking," I said, as I gave him a big smile.

When we got home, Glen, Sean and Jake were busy preparing dinner. Sean and Jake had that responsibility every Wednesday and we suggested that Glen join them. He was happy to as he had frequently helped his father on the nights that he was home to cook for them. Dana helped them plan the menu and they decided who would do what. We involved Garth and it was his job to set the table and put the bread in the bread basket. Dana also showed him how to fold the napkins like they did in the restaurants, which kept him occupied for some minutes. He looked so serious as he kneeled on the chair and carefully folded and placed the napkins by the sides of the plates.

When I had a chance, I told Dana about Garth's dolphin lesson and she started to laugh.

"Can you tell me the joke?" he asked, as he was nearby.

I just smiled and said, "It's an adult joke, Garth. We can't tell you."

Jake was preparing Linguine Primavera with blush sauce, Sean was making a mixed greens salad and Glen was making Tiramisu for dessert.

"That's quite an undertaking, making Tiramisu, Glen," I said as I watched him assembling the different layers in the bowl.

"It's my dad's recipe. It's a quick version he used to make for us some nights," he said, with a big smile.

"My, doesn't the table look nice with those expertly folded napkins," Dana said to Garth as we sat down to eat. He had a big smile on his face as he was lapping up the praise.

It was a wonderful meal and even Garth liked everything. We also had an interesting revelation when Garth ate his first bite which was very hot. He had finished his chocolate milk, as he was in the habit of gulping it down before he ate and then asking for more. We were on to his game and made him eat at least half of his meal before he got a refill. Since he didn't have something to drink, he grabbed Glen's glass of white milk in desperation and took a big gulp. We all were silent, as we waited for his reaction when he realized what he had done. However, we were shocked as he swallowed, paused and then took another big gulp and then smiled.

"Can I have some milk like Glen's?" he asked.

"I thought you didn't like white milk," Dana said, as she poured him a glass.

He couldn't explain why, but he told us it tasted good. I strongly suspected that it had something to do with the sore throat infections he had in the past and that had now been cleared up with the antibiotics Scott had prescribed.

"Well, maybe we should try brussel sprouts again," I said. That suggestion, however, didn't meet with a very enthusiastic response.

"I guess that painful expression means no," Dana said, as we all laughed.

Another painful experience happened later that evening as I had my last playoff game of the round robin in my league. If we won, we would be in the championship round, but even though the team was essentially the same as last year, we had not fared as well. We were tied for last place with two other teams.

This was the first time Garth had seen me play, as we were making an exception and letting him stay up later than his bedtime. He had been bugging us all week to come and we gave in.

"Don't expect too much, Garth. Dad's team sucks," Sean said.

"Dad doesn't. That's why they've still got a chance," Jake said, with a smile.

"We goalies have to stick together," I said, as I put my arm around Jake and laughed.

Garth had fun at the game, as he found the grandson of one of my team mates and they bonded very quickly. I'm not sure how much of the game he actually saw, but he certainly enjoyed the snack bar, which he visited a few times with the boys and Dana. As I expected, we lost the game 1-0 which meant we were finished for the year.

"Did you play in the NHL?" Garth asked after the game.

"If I did, would you want my autograph," I said as I put my arm around him, as everyone chuckled.

I took Glen the next day for another session with Phil to work on his anger management. Phil had made a great deal of progress with Glen and had given him some strategies that were helping, particularly on the hockey rink. Phil had told both of us at the end of the last session that he wanted to explore some of his past, which I knew would get into the tough territory with him.

When Phil asked me to come in after they were finished I noticed that Glen was sitting there with puffy red eyes and was trying to put on a brave face.

"We've explored some of Glen's family's past and we've made some headway getting to the root of some of his anger," Phil said, in his clinical voice.

He went on to say that they specifically went over the events that led to his mother abandoning the family and how that impacted Glen.

"He's been a brave young man as he's opened up about how he feels about the whole situation," he said, as he turned to Glen and gave him a big smile.

I knew they had made significant headway, as he let Phil put his arm around him as we exited the office to the waiting room.

"Good luck on your hockey game this weekend, Glen. I'm so glad you've got a good coach, not like the one your foster brothers have," Phil said, as he laughed.

I put my arm around him as we walked across the parking lot, and said, "I'll say the same thing to you as I did to Sean. I won't ask you anything specific that went on in your sessions. It's up to you what you want to share, if anything. You know Dana and I are good listeners." He just gave me a smile and didn't say anything.

When we got to the house I told him to go clean up and if he wanted to be alone we'd let him have his dinner in his room. By the time dinner was ready he had composed himself and joined us.

After supper he took me aside and said, "Thanks. I'm not ready to share yet, but I think I'll get there soon." I gave him a quick squeeze, which brought a smile to his face.

The city hockey league had what they called Super Saturday when they held their championships at the various rinks. Glen and Garth's teams both made it to the finals in their divisions. We were going to make it a family day and go out after the games for a celebration dinner, regardless of the outcomes.

We had watched a few of Glen's game over the weeks, after his 'privates' healed, as Garth called them, and his suspension had been served. He was a good hockey player, when he was on the ice, but he had a bad temper. His team mates called him 'volcano' for good reason. He was making progress between Dana and my influences at home and Phil's sessions with him and his coach noticed a difference.

"Over the last two games his temper has been much more under control. It's nice to see him playing hockey rather than sitting in the penalty box," he said, after Glen had taken off for the dressing room to drop off his equipment.

"Remember, Glen, your little brother looks up to you and we expect that you'll be the good role model for him that we know you're capable of being," I said, as he came back out into the hallway before he joined Sean and Jake to help with Garth's team.

Sean, Jake and Glen were looking forward to Garth's game, as they had been helping the coach of the team for the last few games, as he only had one other parent to assist him. The coach was reluctant at first to accept Glen, as he knew his reputation on the ice all too well. His older son was on Glen's team so he had witnessed first-hand how volatile Glen could be on the ice. He wasn't keen on having him near the younger boys and it took all my persuasive powers to convince him that Glen was turning over a new leaf.

After the coach addressed the boys, Sean and Jake took over the role of giving the boys a pep talk using some of Rickie's tactics that he used with their team. Glen was a little more reserved and didn't want to get into the 'rah rah stuff' as he put it.

Garth's game was very entertaining, as were all the games in the Novice division. Most of the kids spent a lot of time chasing the puck around the rink in packs, much like greyhounds chasing the mechanical rabbit as they raced. There were a few very good hockey players that tended to dominate the play as they took the puck and skated away from all the other players.... however Garth was not one of them. He had got much better though, now that he had some decent equipment and someone who took him to all his games. I had also let him come to Sean and Jake's practices, as well as Glen, to get them some extra time on the ice.

I was also getting used to Dana, who had now turned into a rabid hockey mother. I hadn't realized how rabid, until I started to watch Garth and Glen's games in the stands. She was quite loud and was not afraid to voice her opinion at the top of her lungs if she felt there was a transgression against one of the boys.

"Don't let him take the puck away from you, Garth. Go check him into the boards and get it back," she yelled, at the top of her lungs during Garth's first shift on the ice.

I had to remind her that there was no checking in Garth's division and that the whole rink was now looking at her, which didn't faze her.

"He has to be more forceful out there. He's a very placid little boy and he has to play the game more aggressively. I'm just reminding him," she said, as she had now sat back down in her seat.

"I think it might be a good idea if we let the coaches coach, dear," I said, as I smiled. "I'm sure his brothers on the bench are doing a good job guiding him."

My comments weren't well received and I got an icy glare for some moments. Finally she calmed down... until Garth got the puck on his next shift and skated down the ice. She was again yelling at him to skate hard. At least this time it was more positive encouragement and legal. I hadn't talked to Sean, Jake and Glen whether this was one of reasons they decided to coach, but I knew that the three of them were embarrassed when they used to sit in the stands and Dana went on one of her rants.

We hadn't seen Garth score a goal in the games we had watched, but he had come very close a number of times. Halfway through the last period Garth had the puck and started to skate down the ice with one of his team mates beside him, but slightly behind. The defenceman on the other team fell down and now they had a two-man breakaway on the goalie. All the parents from our team were cheering very loudly... and then groaned as Garth passed the puck to the boy behind, putting the play offside. When he got back to the bench, Sean, Jake and Glen were on him very quickly before the coach could speak to him. I knew they would be patient with him, as I had observed how positively they dealt with the boys in past games. I was also shaking my head at why he passed the puck, as was Dana.

"I'm sure he had a very logical reason why. He always does," I said, as the two of us chuckled after Dana had calmed down.

We had a surprise for the boys that we didn't tell them about, as we weren't sure that it would happen, so we didn't want to get their hopes up.

"John's just arrived outside in the parking lot," I said to Dana as I looked at the message on my Blackberry.

We had arranged with the disabled transit system to pick John up at the home and come and get him afterwards. The two of us brought him in his wheelchair into the arena to watch as much of the boys' games as he could. A few minutes after we got him settled in the stands, Glen glanced back to find us and was very surprised to see his father. He waved with a big smile and then told Garth when he came to the bench after his shift. He also waved and we were guessing that he had a big smile on his face as well, under his face mask.

"Thank you for arranging this. This means so much to me, seeing my boys play hockey again," John said.

Garth's next shift near the end of the game was more successful. He was standing all alone at the side of the other team's net when the puck came to him. He took a big swat at it and missed, but as he was falling down he managed to hit the puck into the net before he crashed to the ice. This is what I was told, as Dana had jumped up in front of me blocking my view as she yelled at Garth to shoot the puck. John was on the other side of her and he got an unobstructed view.

"I guess I'll have to wait for the replay tonight on the sports news," I said to them, with a big smile.

Garth's team lost the game, but it didn't seem to dampen the boys' spirits as they had big smiles as they skated to the bench to give their small runner-up trophies to their parents and skate back to centre ice to have a team picture taken.

We didn't need to ask him if he had fun, when he skated back to the bench after the picture, before he went to the dressing room to get changed. The matted hair, sweat pouring down his face and the big smile said it all. Glen had taken numerous pictures during the game, but that was the best one of all. Even better than the picture I took of John in between his two boys.

Before Glen went to the dressing room to get ready, I had a quiet talk with him out of site from his father.

"We all are really looking forward to seeing you play hockey today, Glen. You've made great strides in the last week or so controlling your temper, so I'm sure you're going to be just fine today," I said as I patted him on the back and sent him on his way.

When Garth joined us in the stands to watch Glen's game, I was very curious as to why he had passed the puck on the two-man breakaway.

"Marty hadn't had the puck very much in the game, so I let him take a turn carrying it," he said, as he took a big drink of his pop that we bought for him at the snack bar.

Dana and I were going to say something, but we both looked at each other and smiled. That was Garth.

Glen's game was a well played contest, as the two teams were very evenly matched. Glen had made great strides over the last couple of games, partly because of the new equipment, but also because he was doing a much better job of controlling his temper. He was concentrating on playing hockey and the success he was having surprised him, even though he was too cool to admit it.

Part way through the game, I happened to notice Scary Larry and some of his loser friends walking through the stands and when they saw me they made their way to the exit. I followed them and opened the door to see if they were hanging around the parking lot but they had gone. I was hoping that this was just a case of them wanting to hang out because they had nothing better to do and not a case of them looking for us.

Glen wasn't perfect as he got a little frisky at one point and was a little too rough taking one of the opposition players into the boards. He was called for roughing, but he restrained himself when the other boy pushed back and he went to the penalty box and served his time without incident. He managed to play pretty well otherwise and ended up scoring a goal as his team won the championship in their division.

John was pretty tired when the game was finished and he met Glen coming off the ice to say goodbye and congratulate him. Both Glen and Garth were very happy he was there and Dana and I were very happy at the family dynamic between the three of them.

"I think with some help from us, John is going to be a much better father to those two boys," Dana said.

We were also very pleased at the bond that had formed between Glen, Garth, Sean and Jake. They were very animated in the LX as they recounted the many plays that happened during the games.

We were all pretty tired after we came home from our celebration dinner. When we went in to say goodnight to Garth, while Glen was getting ready, he had Pooh under his arm as well as his trophy.

"How about we put the trophy on the dresser. You don't want Pooh to get bopped on the head in the middle of the night," Dana said, as she gave him a kiss.

We had managed to make it to the Championship game with Sean and Jake's team and everyone was excited, including Garth and Glen, even though they weren't competing. Jake was reasonably calm, but Sean was wound up tighter than a drum.

"If you don't relax I think every muscle you have in your body's going to seize up, son," I said, as I came up behind Sean and gave his neck muscles a gentle squeeze as we were having breakfast.

This was going to be more than a family affair, as Scott, Phil and Rick were coming to watch the game as well. The girls and their significant others, weren't in town as they were at the house in Naples. They sent their best wishes the night before as they logged onto Skype and had a chat with the boys as they cut short their nightly conversations with Melissa and Rachel.

We were playing Carson's team and all our boys were looking forward to the game to avenge the loss at the Collingwood tournament. The dressing room was rockin' as Rickie had brought his iPod dock and iPod, which were blaring away selected tunes at close to full volume.

Our resident jokester, Darren, was up to his old tricks and he had a whoopee cushion that he delighted in using on the unsuspecting boys as they came into the dressing room. Shortly after his friend who had roomed with him in Collingwood arrived, we heard a bunch of laughter and the door to the dressing room flew open and the cushion landed at Mark's feet.

"I don't need a cushion to fart," he yelled.

"Someone else is a little on edge besides Sean and Charles," Mark said, with a big smile.

Shortly after the door closed, we heard Darren say, "Eww! That stinks and it was right in my face." There was a great deal of laughter and we didn't need to go in to see what had happened.

I told Rickie to download 'The Hockey Song' by Stompin Tom Connors which was a classic that was played at most Maple Leaf games. He played it when we came into the room to get ready for the chalk talk, before we hit the ice for the warmup.

After the first verse Sean said, "That's a pretty lame song. Whose idea was that?"

"Blame your dad," Rickie said with a big smile.

He gave me a look like I had two heads, but the other boys started to join in the second time the chorus played:

The good old hockey game

Is the best game you can name

And the best game you can name

Is the good old hockey game

When it was finished, all the boys were loose, including Sean and Charles. Mark and I went over strategy with the boys and then it was Rickie's turn to get them fired up.

"Ok, ladies. Just remember what those losers did to us in Collingwood. We're a better team than they are, so let's go show them," he said.

After he was finished with his pep talk the boys took to the ice. Rickie took his iPod dock as he had one more song he wanted to play as they warmed up. The other coach, Randy Biggar, wasn't too pleased as he had Bryan Adams' 'We're Gonna Win' blaring at full volume.

It was obvious Charles was still really uptight as he was very erratic as he took warmup shots at Jake. Most of his shots were too high as he was going back to old habits. Mark called him over to the bench to settle him down.

"For gosh sakes. You're going to put Jake out of the game before we even start. Relax and remember what Ray's dad taught you about keeping your shots down," he said.

His next two shots were much better and the only one I was concerned about now was Sean. He was supposed to be running the warmup with Ray, but he was at centre ice having a heated discussion with Carson and his friend. Rickie noticed what was going on and called him over.

"Burger, ignore Mr. Superstar. You're one of our leaders, so lead," Rickie said to him as he grabbed his sweater and pushed him to our end of the ice.

The game was a rough one, as we knew it would be, since both teams had built up quite a bit of animosity over the season. Sean had two penalties early in the first period as he got sucked into retaliating against Carson's dirty tactics.

We were down 2-0 halfway through the first period and some of the boys' bad habits started to creep into their play. If it hadn't been for Jake's stellar goaltending, we would have been down even more.

"Brandon, what colour are our sweaters?" Rickie asked, as he came off after one of his shifts in the first period, where the other team had scored.

"Black," he said.

"Then why did you pass to number 19, who was wearing a white sweater?" Rickie asked, very agitated.

"I thought he was Sean."

"Sean was in the penalty box!"

Mark calmed Rickie down as Brandon took his seat next to Ray on the bench. I was wishing that Mark could've gone into the stands and calm Dana, as she was starting to get wound up.

We managed to get one back shortly afterwards and it was now 2-1. Sean was still being very undisciplined and he got another penalty for roughing Carson's friend against the boards which resulted in another goal. At the end of the period, both Mark and I tried to calm him down, as he was really angry at Carson and himself.

"We need you playing hockey, not roller derby, son. You're letting Carson get under your skin," I said.

He got control of himself in the second period, but he really wasn't playing up to his ability. About halfway through the last period, I heard Carson and him threatening each other as they came to the bench after a shift. When it was his line's turn to go on the ice, I called out Darren to take Centre rather than Sean. He wasn't happy and he slammed his stick against the inside of the boards on the bench. I decided I'd let him blow off steam and didn't say anything to him and let him stew for a couple of shifts.

Finally I went behind him and leaned over his shoulder and said, "Are you ready to play hockey, or are you still more interested in settling a score?"

"I'm ready," he said, very curtly.

It was obvious Bulldog stepped on the ice, as he was finally focussed and started to take control of the play. Near the end of the shift he picked off a pass that Carson was making to his friend and raced down the ice with Ray. As he came into their zone, he faked a slapshot, which pulled the goalie out of position and then passed to Ray who scored making it 3-2.

I could hear Dana behind us cheering her heart out, as well as Garth who was jumping up and down beside her.

"I'm glad Bulldog finally arrived," I said as I leaned over his shoulder. He just took a swig from the water bottle and didn't turn his head or acknowledge my comment.

He had picked up the other boys on the team and we were now dominating the play. With about five minutes left Ray took the puck away from Carson's friend as he slammed him into the boards and passed it to Brandon who raced down the ice with Sean. He gave Sean a beautiful pass and he shot the puck into the top of the net over the goalie's blocking glove, and now the game was tied. Our bench went crazy and was now really excited, but the other team's was not. Randy Biggar was barking at them in a loud voice and using some very questionable language.

With a minute left in the game it appeared that neither team wanted to take any chances on losing and were playing it very cautious... except for Sean. The fire was still lit underneath him and when he was over at the bench during our last timeout with his helmet off, I could see that determined look in his eyes.

"Don't get reckless, son. Be patient and wait for the chances," I said. "There's always overtime."

He didn't listen and he decided he would make his own chances. He went out on the last shift as if he was possessed and knocked one of their players hard against the boards and he took off down the ice with the puck with Ray catching up to him at centre ice. They crossed over the centre line and the two boys were coming closer to their defencemen, who were backing up quickly so Sean and Ray couldn't get by them. Sean was looking to pass to Ray but he was covered, so he cut to the boards to go around the left defenceman. We were yelling from the bench, as we knew that he couldn't see that Carson had just about caught up to him and was making a beeline for him to rub him out on the boards. The defenceman saw that Carson was there and he stopped backing up and made a lunge to help Carson sandwich him. Carson had his elbow up and we couldn't really see exactly what was going on, but there was quite a noise as all three collided. The referee immediately put up his hand to call a penalty on Carson.

Mark and I were really concerned as we saw Sean's helmet come off and he slumped to the ice, however Rickie wasn't. He was cheering at the top of his lungs and jumping up and down as the puck was in our opponent's net. Our whole bench was going nuts.

"What happened?" I asked Rickie, who was now high-fiving me.

"Sean dropped a backpass, before he got hit, to Charles who was following behind them and he shot a missile into the bottom left corner of their net. Their goalie still hasn't seen it," he said, with a huge smile on his face.

My elation was tempered by my concern for Sean, as he was making his way to the bench with blood streaming down from his forehead. When he got to the bench, Scott had made his way down from the stands along with the St. John ambulance attendant assigned to the game. The boys were ecstatic when we scored, but now they were quiet as they were very concerned about Sean.

"Let me take a look," Scott said, as he sat down on the bench and put a towel against Sean's head to stop the bleeding.

It appeared that he had a compression cut on his forehead from Carson's elbow hitting his helmet. Dana had now come down from the stands and she was frantic. She had left Glen with Garth in the stands.

We still had thirty seconds left in the game and I had to focus and make sure we were prepared to defend the onslaught from Carson's team as they tried to tie up the game. I had to rearrange my line combinations as Sean went with Scott and the attendant to the dressing room, followed by Dana. I had Darren fill in for Sean with Ray and Brandon.

"No shots from the middle of the ice and make sure they don't get any rebounds in front of our net," Rickie said to the boys as they huddled around him before they took their positions.

As I suspected, when the puck was dropped at centre ice their goalie rushed to the bench. The penalty on Carson because of his dirty hit was nullified when Charles scored, so they had six attackers. They tried in vain to get the equalizer, but between Jake in goal and Pieter and Charles on defence they were unsuccessful. When the buzzer went our boys went crazy, as did Rickie.

We were about to line up to shake hands when Sean appeared, followed by the attendant, Scott and Dana. Glen and Garth had now made their way down to the bench.

"Glen, leave it. Cool down. I don't want you going anywhere near Carson," Dana said, as she firmly grasped his shoulder.

"He's a dirty fu.... kid. He deserves to get his lights punched out," he said, as he verbally restrained himself. I was happy that he was able to control himself and that he was sticking up for his friend. We had made progress as he would have been on the ice in a obscenity laced dust-up with Carson by now if this had been a few weeks ago.

"Losing the game is worse for Carson than any physical harm you could do to him. Sean'll be alright," I said.

"I don't think Sean's got a concussion, but I have a butterfly bandage on the cut. Bring him over to my office after he dresses and I'll put a couple of stitches in it. Your son has the same pain tolerance as you. He wasn't going to miss the ceremony for anything," Scott said as he patted Sean on the back.

Sean and Jake were co-recipients of the game MVP award and even many of the other team's players banged their sticks on the ice at the announcement. When we got the boys back to the dressing room after the presentations we told them how very proud we were of their play and reminded them that we were having a celebration dinner at Montana's after they got dressed.

Phil and Rick had now joined Scott as we waited outside the dressing room for the boys. Rickie, Mark and I were on cloud nine and were very satisfied at the effort and progress the boys had made over the season. Rick had his arm around Rickie and I could see that he was very proud of his son and his son was very appreciative of his dad's praise. Stéphane's dad, Dénis, joined us to once again congratulate us, as he had run the ceremonies after the game in his capacity as convenor.

"I hear you want to take your own team next year in the younger division with the two MVPs of the game as your assistant coaches. I think I can fast-track that application without hesitation," Dénis said with a big smile to Rickie.

I was very happy as I had my arm around both boys as we walked out of the rink.

"You two have made your mother and I very proud, not just because you won, but because you played hard and clean. You two have come a long way in a year and not just on the hockey rink."

"We had a great coach," Sean said.

"And a great dad," Jake said, as the two of them had big smiles on their faces.

We packed the equipment into the LX and made our way out of the parking lot to drop in at Scott's office before we headed off to Montana's. Sean's head was a little sore, but the cut had stopped bleeding. The winner's trophy helped a lot with the pain.

As we turned onto the road we saw a very disturbing scene and we stopped.

'We're Gonna Win' by Bryan Adams

'The Hockey Song' by Stompin Tom Connors

The Ontario Human Rights Code

The Canadian Human Rights Act

The Community Care Access Centre

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