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Chapter 1It was a wonderful day outside in Bradford, Ontario. Today was probably the most exciting day in the whole town because it was the beginning of hockey season. The people in Bradford have been writing newspaper articles and televison shows have been previewing the upcoming season.
In most major towns and cities professional sports is number one; but in Bradford and other small towns in Ontario youth hockey comes first. A lot of the talk was about my team the Bradford Senators, mainly because of my friend Frankie and me. It's hard to always hear my name on television and to see my name in the newspaper. I am always seeing, "Jimmy Lencer is about to break Greztky's scoring record." This big record I am about to break is for goals scored under the age of twelve.
Wayne Gretzky is from Bradford, Ontario so he comes to visit once in a while. It is neat to see him just walking down the street as if he was a normal person. He and my dad were friends until my dad died in a car accident. The accident happened in Toronto on his way home from work when I was only five. I was just waiting for him to come home so that we could do our favorite thing together, which was to watch the Toronto Maple Leafs while we ate dinner and talk about what trades they should make or which players were injured.
A few months after my dad died, my mom said she needed to talk to me. She had a very serious look on her face.
She took a deep breath and started talking, "Jimmy, I want to talk about this upcoming hockey season."
"Now, I just think it would be hard to play this year, you know, after dad passing away. I want to know if you would like to sit out this season so we can get everything back together."
"Let me just talk to Frankie, but I probably will sit out this season."
I went to Frankie and decided to talk about it. He agreed 100% with me and said that it is the right thing to do. Now I look back on it and I say it was the right decision. It gave me time to get my head back together.
Chapter 2Now it is a new hockey season, time to buy some new equipment, sharpen the skates, and tape the blade of my stick. Today we have practice at six A.M. I just love the way we get into the locker room and listen to friends telling stories about what happened during the week or talk about the Maple Leaf's game last night. I always sit next to my best friend, Frankie, in the locker room. I have known Frankie since I was about five years old and we have been best friends since then.
"Two minutes 'till the Zamboni is done!" yelled coach Carter. That meant we only had two minutes to finish getting our gear on, although most people were almost done, including me.
I walked out of the locker room, jumped onto the ice, and starting skating laps around the rink to loosen up. Then Coach Carter blew the whistle and yelled, "Bring it in!" Okay, men, this year we are on a mission to win the title in this league. We have a great shot at doing so if we work hard during every practice and every game. We also have two of the most talented players in the league, Jimmy Lencer and Frankie Daniels. So let's get in and work hard to get back in the swing of things. Our first game is next Saturday."
Chapter 3The first game of the season is today against our arch rivals, the Central Ontario Monarchs, the defending champions of the league.
They went 8-1-1 in the league. We won the game 6-4. I had two goals and two assists. The next day we played the Toronto Red Wings and we won 4-3. I had one goal and one assist. However, the next day I had practice but I was sick so I couldn't go. I was feeling better on Wednesday and was able to play against the South Shore Dynamo.
We crushed them 12-0. I had five goals and three assists. I just needed six more points to break Wayne Gretzky's record. I got it the next game with three goals and three assists against the Toronto Red Wings. I was happier than anybody could be at that moment. For just a moment, I felt like I was almost as good as him but then I thought about it and said to myself, "That's impossible."
I was also happy because we won that game 6-1 and we were on our way to the championship against the Central Ontario Monarchs in the Maple Leaf Garden. It has always been my dream to play against them in the Maple Leaf Garden. There were so many people in the stands for just a youth hockey game. The P.A. announcer said, "Tonight's game is the first sellout in the league's history."
The referee dropped the puck and the game was on. Frankie had the puck with about two seconds left in the period. He drove down the wing and fired a hard slap shot. The goalie never saw it and we took an early 1 to 0 lead. The period ended with us having a one to nothing lead. The Monarchs' scored on a break away and the second period ended one to one.
In the final minute of the third period, I had the puck coming down the right side. I had one man to beat. I knew it was up to me. The clock was ticking down and there was only 5 seconds to go. I knew there was no time for a pass. The only thing I could do was get as close as I could and fire. That's what I did. I shot, but I couldn't look. All I heard was the puck hit the back of the rippled mesh. It was in the net! We had won the game 2-1. I pointed up toward the sky, "Saying that was for you, Dad."
I got swarmed by the whole team. That night our whole team went out for pizza to celebrate the victory.
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Last revised: 9th June 1999