The Big Hockey PostEli 9.7 had an anniversary last weekend.
One year ago, at spring break, he decided that he wanted to learn how to skate. When I skated today at that same rink, I saw this year's version of his learn to skate class, and my mind could not wrap itself around the difference.
One year. How is that possible?
On Saturday, Eli's team played its last game of the season, and he was in goal. He was sharp right from the open, and so was his team. It was quite a game, because they were outshot 25 to 9, but Eli stood on his head and made 22 saves, and 5 of the 9 shots his team did take wound up scoring. So they won 5-3, which was a nice end to the season.
Only it wasn't the end of the season, at least for Eli, because he always wants to play in the second game, too, and it seems like one of the teams is always short a skater. So he played in the second game, but much to my surprise, he played two full periods at center.
And, without a hint of fatherly exaggeration, he tore it up.
He was a complete pain in the ass. He scored once and almost scored twice more, had some excellent passes (including one that should have led to a goal), and always seemed to be around the puck.
And, much to your surprise, I have video.
I finally remembered to bring the Flip, so if you choose, you can watch him in goal in the first game, then see him score in the second. And if you get bored, but still want to see him score, then go to 4:15 to see the post-first game celebration, and the second game highlights start at 4:30 (they last about a minute, and he's in the silver helmet). Oh, and if you have the bandwidth, it's better in HD (720P).
By the way, it only took me about ten minutes to make the video--Flip has some very nice tools to make simple videos, including that very nice transition between clips.
Surely, that's it for hockey and spring break, right? Nope. Not even close.
On Sunday, we drove to Dallas for the Stars game--our first NHL game. And it was fantastic. Then we drove home. All in all, a considerable day trip.
Then on Monday throught Wednesday (today), there were spring break stick and pucks.
In this case, though, there was a bonus.
For some reason, the Texas Stars were practicing at our local ice rink yesterday and today, so Eli got to watch two practices. And the players were unbelievably generous with their time--after they finished practice, every single player signed anything and everything the kids had for them. Eli had his goalie mask signed by at least a dozen different players.
Then there was Tyler Beskorowany.
Tyler is a 20-year-old phenom, a second round draft pick who played only ten games for the Idaho Steelheads before being moved up to the AHL. He's been identified as the top goaltending prospect of the Dallas Stars, and it looks like he has a very bright future in the NHL.
He was one of the last players to come off the ice, and since Eli is a goalie, he really wanted to talk to him. Which he did, for a few moments, and then Tyler handed Eli his backup stick.
That made Eli's month. Or year. Mine, too.
Then Tyler hung around so that we could take pictures of the kids with him. Here's the Gang Of Four (goalies), only with Tyler, it's the Gang Of Five:
The stick has Tyler's name on it, and when he makes it to the NHL, Eli will have the stick of an NHL goalie. Here's Eli in a very proud pose:
What a year.