Saturday, June 21, 2008


The Pens played their first game of the season in Carolina, on October 5th. Uncle Mario and Aunt Nathalie had invited me to join them for the game, but I had opted to stay in Pittsburgh and watch the game with the kids. It was a frustrating game to watch, with the Pens scoring only one goal and losing four to one.

I woke up the next morning at six o’clock, two hours earlier than usual. I groaned and rolled over. I tried to fall back asleep, but eventually I gave up and took a shower. I went to the kitchen to make some coffee and found Aunt Nathalie pouring milk into four cereal bowls for the kids.

Bon matin!” she greeted me. Lauren entered the kitchen with the skirt of her school uniform pinned up, making it two inches shorter than usual. “No, Lauren. Roll it down,” Aunt Nathalie said sternly, pushing her out of the kitchen.

Lauren groaned and stomped to her bedroom. “You realize she’ll just re-pin it when she gets to school,” I said, taking a sip of coffee.

“Don’t tell me this, Karine,” she sighed. I helped her place the cereal on the kitchen island and she called for the kids.

Sidney entered the kitchen with Austen slung over his shoulder. He grunted and plopped Austen down on one of the chairs at the kitchen island. “You’re getting too big for that, buddy,” he joked, fluffing his hair.

“Morning, Sid. You’re up early,” Aunt Nathalie placed a gallon of milk on the island and asked what he would like for breakfast.

“Cereal is fine,” he replied, retrieving a bowl from the cupboard. “I want to get to the arena early.”

“Mario said practice isn’t until ten,” Aunt Nathalie replied.

Sid shrugged. “After last night, I feel like I have some work to do before the game.”

Aunt Nathalie shook her head. “You’re going to overwork yourself.”

“Nah,” Sid grinned. “You coming to the game tonight?” he asked me.

“Of course.” The Ducks were playing Pittsburgh tonight at Mellon Arena. It was the first home game of the season, and after last night’s loss I was sure the guys wanted to bounce back and win big tonight.

“My parents left me a voicemail,” he said to Aunt Nathalie. “They said they’ll be here around noon.” Sid’s parents, Troy and Trina, and his little sister, Taylor, were coming for the game tonight. They were staying at Uncle Mario and Aunt Nathalie’s for the night and then going back to Nova Scotia on Sunday.

“Okay, kids, in the car!” Uncle Mario came into the kitchen and poured coffee into his travel mug. “Morning Sid, Karine.”

“Morning,” we replied in unison. Uncle Mario steered the four children out of the kitchen and gave Aunt Nathalie a kiss.

“Hey,” Sid said to me with a mouth full of cereal, “if you’re not doing anything you should come with me.”

“Why? So you can beat up on me again?” I pouted.

“I need a goalie.”

“I’m not a goalie.”

Sid shrugged. “I’ll find you some extra pads and we can make you a goalie.”

I poured myself another cup of coffee and narrowed my eyes. “I think you just want to pay me back for winning yesterday.”

“You beat Sid?” Aunt Nathalie asked as she loaded the dishwasher.

“No,” Sid replied loudly. “She got a goal because she took a cheap shot. And I decided to end the game after she tried to check me and fell on her ass.”

I rolled my eyes. “He’s just embarrassed he lost to a girl,” I teased.

“You’re coming with me.”

I raised my eyebrows. “Don’t tell me what to do. Besides, having me in the goal would be useless. You might as well be shooting at an empty net.”

“You used to play goalie when you were little,” Aunt Nathalie interjected quietly.

“Fine,” I sighed. “Let me go get ready.” I ran up the stairs and pulled on a pair of sweatpants and a Montreal Canadiens tee shirt. I packed my gear into a duffle bag and hurried back downstairs.

“Seriously? You don’t have any Penguins stuff?” Sid asked as I returned to the kitchen.

“Nope,” I replied with a mischievous grin. I was glad Sid was feeling more relaxed around me. It looked like I was right about Marc-AndrĂ© reading too far into it.


We arrived at the arena about an hour later. Sid led me into a crowded equipment room and tossed a tattered pair of goalie pads to me. I held them up and laughed, seeing that they went to my chest.

“Marc-AndrĂ© is, like, six four. I’m five eight. This isn’t going to work.”

Sid laughed and took the pads. “Alright. We can just play some one-on-one. But no cheap shots. And you need to play hard,” he said seriously. “I need practice. And I need you to take off that shirt.” I raised my eyebrows and crossed my arms across my chest as he blushed furiously. “No, I mean…here.” He threw a jersey to me and hurried out of the room. I held it up and saw a golden “C” in the top left corner of the black home jersey.

I returned to the locker room, where Sid was pulling his practice jersey over his pads. “Are you sure it’s okay for me to have this?” I asked.

“Yeah. They give me tons. You brought your pads, right?”

“Yep,” I replied, pulling them out of my duffle bag. Sid left the room and I got suited up. I smiled as I pulled his jersey over my head.

I walked through the hallway and stood on the concrete pad that led onto the ice, not even noticing Sid was waiting for me at center ice. My eyes scanned the arena and I was overtaken by its size. I had been in professional arenas before, but never when they were empty. My mind flashed back to all those years ago when I told people I was going to be the first girl to go pro.

“You alright?” Sid asked, leaning on his stick.

“Yeah,” I replied, snapping back to reality. “You’re really lucky, you know?”

Sid smiled. “Yeah, I do.”

“When I was six, I was convinced I would be the female Wayne Gretzky,” I told Sidney, still gazing at the thousands of empty seats around us.

A playful smile fluttered across Sid’s face. “You still have time.” I rolled my eyes. “Did you play in college?”

I shook my head. “No. But I lived and breathed hockey in high school. I was obsessed.”

Sid dropped the puck on the ice and bent his knees. “Let’s see what you got, Blondie.”

We played real, intense, competitive hockey for the next hour. Sid didn’t go easy on me just because I was a girl, which I respected. At one point, he shoved me against the boards so hard I fell and had a hard time getting back up.

“Did I hurt you?” he asked, skidding to a stop beside me. His face was full of concern.

“No,” I lied through gritted teeth. As I inhaled I felt a sharp pain shoot through my body. “My ribs.”

He pulled me up and helped me over to the bench.

“Here,” he said, handing me a water bottle. “Try to take deep breaths.”

After a while, it didn’t hurt to breathe anymore. I stood up and stepped onto the ice. “So, what was it? You had three, right? And I made two.”

“No, we’re done,” Sid replied.

“I’m fine.” I stubbornly skated to center ice and got ready for a face off. “Get over here, Crosby.”

Sid grinned and joined me. “I don’t want to hear you whining if you can’t breathe later.”

We played until 9:30. I was drenched in sweat and absolutely exhausted, and despite playing my absolute best I still lost by two goals. Sid, on the other hand, was just getting started. If I hadn’t been on the ice, I wouldn’t have believed he’d just played two and a half hours of hockey. “Just a warning, you might see some naked Penguins,” he said as he opened the locker room door.

“Nothing I haven’t seen before,” I joked with a smirk as I followed him into the locker room. About half the team was there, getting ready for practice.

“Woah.” Ryan Malone’s eyes darted from Sid to me. “What have you two been doing?”

A few guys laughed as Sid blushed. I flicked my hair out of my sweaty face and pulled off Sid’s jersey, revealing my Canadiens tee-shirt.

“The Canadiens? Why?” Malone teased.

Je suis Quebecois. J’adore le Canadiens,” I replied. I handed the jersey to Sid.

“No, keep it,” he replied, pushing it back to me. “Wear it tonight.”

“Ooooohhh,” Colby teased quietly. Sid turned around and glared at him.

“Thanks,” I replied with a huge smile. I told everyone goodbye and went into the away team’s locker room to change out of my pads and sweaty clothes. I walked to my car and noticed I had a silly grin plastered on my face. I half-wished Sid didn’t have practice so I could spend the rest of the day with him.

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