Slap Shot! Three Hockey Stories
Slap Shot! Three Hockey Stories
“PSST. We won our game because I stuck NHL Band-Aids on my blisters,” said Stuart proudly. “They always bring me good luck,” he flashed a toothy smile.
“I eat lucky pizza on game day,” said Mark. “Because a pizza that’s cheesy makes scoring easy!” He reached into his hockey bag and found a slice of pepperoni pizza left over from breakfast. “I am not joking, guys. If I eat pizza, I get a goal. It’s like magic!”
“I get dressed in a special order for good luck,” added Harty. He explained his routine: I put on my elbow pads first, jock second and gloves last. Then, I tuck the left side of my jersey into my hockey pants- just like Wayne Gretzky did.”
“Nope,” Jordan shook his head. “We won because I wore my stinkiest socks. I hide them in my hockey helmet so they never get washed.” He pulled off his goalie skates. “Smell these! Once they were white and now they are bluish grey brown!”
It was after a game at the beginning of the season in early October. In the dressing room, everyone on the Glendale Hawks Hockey Team was sharing their ideas about good luck helping them win. All of Tom’s friends, Stuart, Mark, Harty, and Jordan were there, but Tom did not join in the discussion. He did not feel that he was having any good luck, because now he was wearing jersey #5. #15, his lucky jersey had stayed behind with last year’s team. So far this year, Tom had not scored any goals and was in a slump.
One afternoon, when Tom went to meet his friends for a game of street hockey, he found them instead huddled inside Harty’s garage. It was an intervention! They were there to brainstorm a solution to ending Tom’s slump. They were looking for some good luck hockey superstitions that he could use. Using Harty’s mom’s tablet, they researched NHL superstitions. One by one, Tom listened and even tried a couple. He swirled his hockey stick in the toilet and stood on his head, but in the end, he rejected them all. The day ended with a rousing game of street hockey.
At school the next day, Tom and his friends talked to Mrs. Wong, their teacher about borrowing a lucky penny. She didn’t have one, but gave Tom a calendar with 365 proverbs and the advice that, “most of the time we make our own luck!”
Tom remembered this advice when he is given an assignment in English class. The assignment is to write a list. Tom decides to make two lists. One is “How to Have Bad Hockey Luck” and the other is “How to Have Good Hockey Luck” which included the following:
Listen to your coach
Eat healthy foods
Be on time
Get a good night’s sleep
Check your equipment bag so you don’t forget your gear
Get your skates sharpened
Go to the correct areas
Check the schedule
Wear your mouthguard
Follow the rules
Be a team player
Thank the coach and parent helpers
Brush your teeth
Don’t pick your nose
Leave your pet snake at home
If you have to wear #5 jersey, try your best anyway
Before the next game, Tom and his father went to the hockey store to buy new hockey pants for Tom. While he was there, he met Butch Barter from the Calgary Mustangs. They talked about scoring goals and Butch impressed upon Tom that making assists was every bit as important as scoring. This made Tom feel better, because even though he had yet to score a goal, he had assisted in many.
When getting ready for the next game, Tom found a piece of hockey tape in his hockey bag. He knew it had come from Butch’s stick. Butch had been taping up his stick at the hockey store. He decided to use the piece of tape. He stuck it on the back of his jersey to make the #5 into a #15. The tape wasn’t easy to see, but Tom knew it was there.
At the next game, Tom’s teammates all went through their pregame rituals, but Tom kept his secret lucky charm to himself. The Glendale Hawks won the game and Tom had scored a goal! It was only when he returned to the dressing room that he saw the tape stuck to the door. It had never made it to the game. Tom’s luck was his own making. (From Slap Shot!)
Slap Shot! is a compilation of the three books that were previously published between 2010-2015: The Rink Rats, Tryout Trouble and Hockey Luck. In The Rink Rats the Glendale Hawks hockey team is building and maintaining an outdoor hockey rink while Tryout Trouble describes the challenges for Tom and his team when they go through a hockey tryout. The last of the books in the collection, Hockey Luck, explored the culture of hockey superstitions, and many facts about NHL player superstitions were described.
The characters in these stories are not fully developed, and they show no character development from book to book. The plot lines are also very thin, but these stories are used as a way to delve into the sport and culture of hockey. Any student who plays hockey will easily identify with the books’ hockey situations and the players. Students who do not play hockey may still enjoy reading Slap Shot! Three Hockey Stories, but the collection is really for an audience of ardent hockey players.
Elizabeth Brown, who lives in Headingley, Manitoba, is a retired Winnipeg School Division teacher-librarian.