Hockey in the Desert (Part Two) June 10, 2017

I may have mentioned that our hockey team met Toronto Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock at the luggage carousel at the airport in Phoenix, Arizona. Perhaps once or twice. Maybe attached a selfie.

But that was only part of the team experience at our third international hockey tournament, which recently took our twelve skaters, goalie and two bench coaches (concussions) to Arizona, ready to follow-up on our glorious non-victories in Las Vegas last year and Iceland in 2014. The Beaver Dames, we call ourselves. Red jerseys with maple leaves and the titular animal.

One night in Arizona, our very strange waiter asked me, “Where are you from?”

“Toronto,” I replied.

Puzzled silence.

“Canada?”

He thought about this for a while before saying, “So what are you doing here?”

“We’re a hockey team.”

Another puzzled silence.

“There’s a hockey tournament in town, hundreds of people here to play recreational hockey, and we’re part of it.”

A third puzzled silence, after which he said, “That’s weird.”

It was something like 34 degrees when we landed (along with Mike Babcock), so maybe there was something a little weird about playing hockey in Arizona, our second desert tournament after Vegas.

There was something even weirder about the waiter, whom I wrote about in a blog for Open Book, where I’m the writer in residence for the month of June. (They ask me not to duplicate posts, so you’ll have to read about the waiter here and here.)

A photo of our team with Leafs coach Mike Babcock, which I may have run before

Yet in the way that counter-intuitive experiences can be more fun, because surprising, we ended up having a great time. This despite the fact (spoiler alert) that we chalked up another glorious non-victory at the tournament itself.

Like most writers, I’m a bit of a loner. I’m not usually part of an amoeba, as we call ourselves—a group of women splitting and re-forming into larger and smaller groups over a five- or six-day trip. Simply going along, giving into the group, can feel strange when you’re used to charging off on your own. But of course you also end up doing things you’d never do by yourself.

These can include playing hockey from 2 to 3 a.m. at a rink God knows where in Phoenix. For a start.