Friday, March 03, 2006

Give blood - referee hockey

You know those shirts - lots of hockey goofs wear them - pithy sayings meant to evoke Red Cross blood drives - "Give Blood - Play Hockey" - very macho. Players dont get bloody much anymore - USAH frowns upon that - as do the parents - and with adult league everyone (I hope) figures there are too many chances for Officer Johnson to come handcuff your ass to actually do the fist-fight thing. On the other side of the whistle we officials get it, sometimes in the teeth, usually in the hands and legs.

Earlier this season (I've been saving this post for a while) I had the honor of working a Midget AAA major game at a skating rink located in a shopping center - the "Brawl at the Mall" as we call it down here. Not only is the ice smaller than normal, the kids egos are super-sized, and the zebras are just "in the way" to these Jr. Claude Lemiuxs...

So here I am calling the lines - carefully attending to the 'dont watch the puck hit you in the face' rule when play rushes up the boards on my side of the ice when its my blue-line, partner nowhere in sight so I hold out a little while (.000001 seconds to be exact) and still the paired off players are charging right at my soft little unprotected body - so now I look over the shoulder at the neutral zone - and to my suprise theres a white jersey charging my way looking for a puck.

Where can I go? No-mans land might be tempting if I didnt know that its a sure way to get really - really - seriously - E.R. time hurt. Flat-backing it might take the edge off the impending doom, so I get small... and I bend one knee hoping to hold out well enough from the impact to stay upright.

Guess what happened? I managed to stay upright (hey boss, no beer for you this time) but to my suprise a sudden feeling of pain comes from the leg I left straight in contact with the ice - whats wrong with this picture - I have pads on (kneecap to ankle length balistic plastic)...!??!

Turns out my lightweight referees pads which work really well to cusion the blow from face-off stick whacks (a story for another day) will slide around the leg if given the right impact from the side - when I chose to get flat against the boards my straight leg (holding my weight) became exposed - and the player pair with the puck went down before coming my way - an errant player's skate came up and hit my leg, followed almost immediately by the weight of the teammate charing my way from the other side of my body.

After all that I got back to the locker room between 2nd and 3rd to find out my leg was bleeding... OOOWWW. But then I do feel some pride in that I finished the period (with plenty of face-offs risking further assult to my leg) and then the game - of course my partners let me have it for being a dumbass in the first place...


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