All About Ice

Last Saturday, I worked harder than I do at the Globe — from a physical standpoint, anyway — to remove an excess of ice from our sidewalk and driveway at home. It was a job I should have done a couple of days earlier, and ultimately completed for the primary purposes of: a) avoiding an awful fall; and b) clearing things before the next deluge of freezing rain and snow supposedly arriving within the next few hours.

I have never been a huge fan of winter, even though I’ve lived my whole life in places with four distinct seasons. I don’t mind snow too badly, and I can even deal with bitterly cold temperatures, but it’s dealing with excess snow and especially ice removal that’s not enjoyable. My wife, I’m sure, would be quick to point out my ongoing struggles with our snowblower, and I would quickly add that I’d much rather blow snow then chop ice if given the choice.

Naturally, the kids don’t share my lack of enthusiasm for winter, though they are both eager to embrace what the outside promises come springtime. Last weekend, Grace donned her snowpants and essentially rolled around in what little white stuff remained on our lawn. Then, ironically, she got bored with that and — given the lack of snow and ice on most sidewalks — went rollerblading around the neighborhood.

Zach, for his part, seems to like making a game of living as dangerously on the ice as he possibly can. He’s had a couple of good wipeouts this winter (fortunately nothing serious) yet remains undeterred from running and even offering an occasional dance step on slippery surfaces. He, as well as Grace, also seems to have an affinity for hockey — my least favorite of what I’d call the major sports.

Both of the kids had asked off and on for weeks if I’d take them to a hockey game (they apparently knew they’d have a much better chance of that happening with me than with their mom). Finally, a couple of weeks ago, I escorted them to a Saturday afternoon matinee of the Trojan boys’ hockey team, and they both seemed to really enjoy it.
Probably the biggest draw to hockey for both Grace and Zach is that we know one of the Trojan players, backup goalie Alex Purdy. Of course, the kids were a tad disappointed when Alex never got into the game we attended, but they each moved on to other sources of amusement. For Grace, it was hanging out with Alex’s sister, who is her age; Zach, meanwhile, played with a pre-school classmate while occasionally stopping to check out the action.

And the action was definitely attention-grabbing in the intermission between the first and second periods. That’s when the Mini-Mites — I believe these are the youngest kids in Worthington’s youth hockey program — took the ice for a brief exhibition. Even I must admit the “game” was fun to watch, and there was definitely some skating going on. We can only hope those good skaters only get better and better as they move up the ranks and potentially make the WHS program stronger.

A few days later, shortly before the kids’ bedtime, I was looking for something to watch on TV and came across the Minnesota Wild-Nashville Predators game. “Hockey!” each of them yelled delightedly. Do we have a couple of future wingers, goalies or defensemen in our midst?

I don’t know, but it is clear that hockey has a healthy following in Worthington. A few days ago, Tracie Luinenburg, one of my son’s teachers at Hi-Ho, emailed me a photo of her son’s Mites team. I know we’ve had a lot of things about different Worthington youth hockey squads in the sports section (lots of Pee Wee scores, for starters), but Tracie told me these kids would just love to see their team picture — taken last month at a tournament in Brookings, S.D. — in the paper. So I’m putting it in, and I’m guessing Grace will point out which kids she knows when she sees it, and perhaps even ask about playing.

While I have nothing against the sport, there’s one significant obstacle to me becoming a hockey dad: I think I’d really need to learn how to skate. Perhaps I can practice in my driveway.