For some minor hockey players, their provincial tournaments are a couple of hours old, while for others, their tournaments are set for later in the week.
© Compass file photo
Compass reporter/photographer Nicholas Mercer.
Provincial tournaments are a special time for young hockey players.
You spend three or four days, depending on where the tournament is being played, with 15 of your best buddies.
There is no school or homework and all players are concerned about is playing the game they love.
Sure these tournaments come every year, but there is a mystic about them that will resonate with players long after their playing days are over.
You will always remember the game-winning goal that got you into the championship, or your teammate scoring that overtime winner.
It doesn’t matter if you were in atom or your last year of midget those memories stay with you.
But, it’s not just hockey memories that stay with a player.
Maybe, it’s playing mini-sticks in the hallway of the hotel with your teammates till midnight, or driving around the streets of Twillingate guided only by the headlights of the car.
It could even be something as simple as hanging out on the bleachers with your teammates, sat down in your bottom gear eating a plate of fries, dressing and gravy while your coach barks at you because you have to play in 15 minutes.
It could be anything.
All of these things play into a player’s provincial tournament manuscript.
That’s why it is important for players to absorb everything they can from the experience.
You’ll often hear about professional players experiencing their first playoff run or going to the Olympics for the first time being told to drink it in.
They’ll be advised to just enjoy the experience.
These tournaments tend to go by in a blur and sometimes you miss those little things that make things complete.
You don’t want to leave minor hockey with only a certificate saying you’ve completed the program.
If I could give any minor hockey player one piece of advice, no matter if they are a bright-eyed atom player en route to their first tourney or a jaded midget player who might not really want to be there, it would be to live the tournament without regret.
Not everyone is going to win a gold medal — or a silver or bronze for that matter — but does not mean there shouldn’t be great memories being brought home from these tournaments.
Live in the moment.
Each tournament will be different, and that should be exciting.
If all a player focuses on are the results, they undoubtedly miss specifics.
Besides, where else do you get to eat takeout all day and still get to play hockey?