March or April 1981
My father and I had to visit Minnesota for a reason that has faded into the grey of my memory. He and I had football interest in common, but he didn't like baseball and he thought hockey was from the planet Mars. He did not like it or, actually, understand why others did like it.
We stayed at my beloved Auntie Joan and Uncle Leo's home for the two overnights. And what I found on television was amazing. It was the final of The High School Boy's Hockey Tournament. Bloomington Jefferson High School versus Irondale. It does not matter who won, what matters was that for the time I watched, every play was of great importance, and the boys on the ice played with every ounce of emotion and courage I'd ever seen. As I've outlined here before, I did like hockey much sooner than 1981. But, there is a difference between liking something, and loving it, and between watching from a distance and becoming deeply involved in the ongoing event.
It would not be true to say I had a stake in the result, hence my not reporting the end result. I simply realized that this sport was of unique beauty, and savage brutality, all at once. I did not know any of the players, but by the end of the game, I felt like they'd all be in the NHL soon. I've tried to watch the Hockey tournaments every year, and this year, to my despair, due to having cancer ongoing treatments, I forgot entirely about them. It is my great loss that I missed them this year.
I realize that everyone who does like it, likes hockey for different reasons. For me, there are many reasons, but watching that awesome game, made me feel like I forgot to breathe during each play.