You know those radio contests where they play a sound and caller number whatever has to guess what the sound is for a fabulous cash prize? I got through once, pretty sure I knew what it was, but then I was crushed as some kind of stock noise of disappointment rang in my ear. I would’ve gotten it right if they played one of my favorite sounds of all time, the crazy cacophony of a hockey game. I’m not really sure how to describe the way a hockey game sounds but it’s unmistakable. There are clicks, clacks, slaps, whooshes, thuds, slices, whistles, cheers, jeers, and one of my personal favorites, the tink of a puck hitting the goal post. (I once tried to find this sound for a notification on my phone.)
In July, even at the tail end of the month, I wouldn’t think I would find myself at a hockey game. There are long months between seasons, and I always get a bit impatient. So, when the boss mentioned there was a puck being dropped at the Rukavina Areana in Silver Bay on Saturday night, I was sure to be there to watch the Minnesota Warriors Hockey Duluth/Iron Range team take on the Silver Bay Adult League.
Most fans on Saturday sat in the upstairs viewing area which provides a great vantage point to watch the games. I chose to sit down in the bleachers so I could hear the game better (see previously mentioned favorite sound). The arena has some of the same things, important things, as others I’ve frequented. The home team’s name was displayed proudly in large bold letters. Colorful signs circle around the arena, representing each team in the league that has hit the ice over the years, and the requisite children running around and around the outside of the rink with endless energy, only to pause when handed a treat from the concession stands.
This game, however, was a bit different than those normally played in the Rukavina Arena. The Silver Bay Adult League is made up of young men to not so young men and everything in between. They are lovers of hockey who, I bet, love every chance they have to play. These things are also true for the Minnesota Warriors team.
The Minnesota Warriors Hockey Program was organized for charitable and educational purposes. According to their website, “Minnesota Warriors is the only USA Hockey Disabled Warrior program in the state of Minnesota. Our focus is on assisting our veterans with reintegration into civilian life.”
I really liked their jerseys.
The game moved quickly, and the score was 4-1, Silver Bay, at the end of the 1st period. During the second, there was a bit of a pause when a potential (I didn’t get the official word) broken nose needed ice and, ironically, it took a bit to find some. It went downhill from there for the Warriors.
The final score was very heavy on one side, the Silver Bay Adult League taking the win. I’m going to venture to guess that the score wasn’t important to most of the athletes. There was a feeling of camaraderie that spilled into each team. When a player was tripped, a fist bump assured everyone that there were no ill feelings. The chirping, gosh I always wish I could hear the chirping better, made both sides grin. Wins were celebrated, even if it was a simple blocked shot, with loud bangs against the boards from the benches. And I don’t think I’ve ever seen refs smile so much.
It was a fun game to watch, I’d like to see them play again. In a brief conversation after the game with Nick Bjerken, organizer of the game and #12, he indicated that the teams would like to play together more. A member of the Minnesota Warriors team skated over and agreed. It would be fun to do it even bigger and better, maybe with events for kids in between periods. I’ll be keeping my eye out for a rematch, and I’ll do my best to let you all know when to come cheer on a great cause and a great game.
I spent a lot of time trying to get a good picture of the game. I am a horrible photographer and have apologized for that fact a few times to my patient editor. I was ready to try from the upper viewer area when I stopped briefly to introduce myself to Silver Bay Mayor Wade Leblanc. We had spoken on the phone previously, and I knew he was an avid hockey fan. The game was winding up and he pointed to Jenny Bjerken down the rink and advised me that she was going to be headed out onto the ice to get a pic and I should follow her.
Easy for him to say! I stepped so carefully, terrified I was going to slip and humiliate myself. But I sacrificed my safety for a pretty good photo. See if you can spot the guy with the nose injury!
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