That other different perspective

Last night Jay scored his first goal to help his hockey team, the Rangers, improve their record to 4 – 1 with a win over the Devils.

Normally the second line center, Jay was splitting his time between the wing and center positions because some of the players were out of town. For a good part of the game Jay got time with some experienced players – especially the team’s All-Star center, Maverick.

Midway through the third quarter, Maverick (playing center) found Jay (at left wing) in perfect position just left of the goal. Jay received the pass and took a beautiful shot: hard, on target, but the Devil’s goalie deflected it. Less than five minutes later, Maverick and Jay connected for essentially the same one-timer opportunity. This time Jay put it high on the stick side, and found the net.

His teammates, coaches, and the other parents all cheered – acknowledging the significance of his goal even though the score was now 10 – 2.

I was especially proud (and yes, I did tell him so, many times) because his goal came as the result of doing exactly what he was supposed to do.  It wasn’t a flukey, accidental, “wow, did that go in?” goal.  Jay was in the exact location he’d been coached to be for the pass, with his stick down and his attention focused.

The crowd had given a collective “awwww” when his first shot was stopped, but I know there were a number of good things that came from that first attempt. By getting a solid shot off  of Maverick’s pass, Jay earned the confidence of his teammate. You could tell Jay felt denied by the goalie and wanted another chance too.  What’s more, after having been coached to play the position a certain way, Jay now understood why he was given those instructions and what could come from doing that.

When he scored a few minutes later, the sequence looked the same (pass, one-timer, shot) with only a different outcome, but I saw that there was a different expectation and resolve in Jay – he wanted and expected to score on that shot.

In the final minutes of the game, Jay was pulled and two other “rookies” were playing the wings. They played well, and it looked as if Maverick might be able to set them up for similar success.

Nick (playing right wing instead of his usual defenseman spot) just missed on one attempt that had as good a chance of going in as any. It hit the post and ricocheted out. Jay’s other teammate, Jimmy (playing left wing) did score a goal with a shot from the point on an empty net – it was his first goal, and a confidence builder for him I’m sure.

When the game was over and the coach had dismissed the team, Jay and I headed to meet Mom and Jackie for our ritual Five Guys post-game dinner. In the car, Jay was beaming about… the team’s win. I kept bringing up his goal and how it was just like Coach Steve had said things would go when he learned how to play his position, … and Jay kept talking about the team’s 4 – 1 record, their rematch against the 4- 0 Flyers on Saturday, and Jimmy’s goal.

Wanting to hear him gloat a little bit about his well deserved success, I suggested he call Grandma and Grandpa and tell them about the game and his goal. He called, and the first thing he said? We won.  It was …. team won, team’s record, team’s score, team’s pending rematch and the results of their previous meetings in the preseason and Game 1 of the season. I prompted Jay to tell Grandma why he was calling… “Jimmy and I each scored a goal – Jimmy scored all the way from the point, ‘cuz the other team pulled their goalie.”

Eventually, some details got out about Jay’s own goal, we got to Five Guys, and just had a nice relaxing dinner with the girls. But, it’s funny… Jay didn’t really talk about his goal much at all.

I’m not complaining.  We’d been preaching through all the other games that we were proud of him even though he didn’t score a goal: his hustle and emerging leadership is really something special to see. And, I’m very glad to see him put the team before himself even though it’s his first real organized team activity. He’s very proud to be a Ranger, and he already understands the “know your role” component of being on a team.

I just find it funny, that while the gleam in his eye an the smile he was straining to hold in let me know he was very proud of himself, he chose to focus on Jimmy and his teammates.

I’m very proud of him for that – as proud as I am of his goal and overall play/improvment. I do hope that inside he’s given himself a pat on the back (as his coach, mom, sister, grandparents, teammates, and I all did).

Contributed by: Scott Copperman (Guest Author)


Leave a Reply