Hockey is a game that’s love/hate. You love it or hate it. I got my start with hockey when I was about six years old. My Dad signed me up and immediately I developed a love for the game and played on through till I was about 14 years old. We played hockey on ponds, in the back yard, in the summer time, winter time, in the basement, backyard rinks, and “real” hockey rinks. Hockey took a back seat for me at about 14 and music became my obsession. When I went to Bible College I started playing again, late at night with the Bible College students and some of the local church groups. I played hockey on outdoor rinks when I was youth pastor in Ottawa, Ontario. Driving through the city at night in the winter time, it was customary, in the subdivisions to come up on an outdoor rink. Many times, I would pull the car into the lot, jump out, grab my stick and skates, (which were always in the trunk or back seat), and hit the ice for a a few minutes with a group of guys I had never met.

For many years, as we were busy starting a new church in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, once again, I was out of the game. Then, a couple of years ago, my son convinced me to join a summer ball hockey league. I did, and loved it, even though I was playing with guys less than half my age. The following winter I purchased all the equipment and started playing shinny hockey at a couple of local rinks.

A few weeks ago, the inevitable happened: I was scrounging for the puck in behind the net and a guy brought his stick right up into the corner of my mouth. Instantly, I knew this was fairly serious. I drove myself to the Kingston General Hospital where I was treated quite quickly and received five stitches on the inside of my mouth. So here’s the scoop. I’ve learned a few things from the game of hockey.

1. Men change when they get into the middle of a game of hockey. Ever heard it said, “he surely must think this is the NHL?” Yep, it’s true. Each game, for many players is their shot are stardom.

2. Be prepared to get hurt when playing hockey. It’s fast, furious, and rough. There’s just no way of getting around it. I could not tell of the number of fights, hateful remarks, jabs with the stick, slashes on the back of the legs, and flared tempers, during a 60 minute game of hockey. And you will get hurt if you play any amount of hockey. It comes with the territory. The ice is hard. The boards are hard. That guys elbow pad in the chin is hard; and you will get hurt. Isn’t this just like life. You can’t get through it without getting hurt. It comes with the territory.

3. Hockey players are born with an innate ability to forgive. I have witnessed some doozy fights and hate filled, curse filled words being slung around in the heat of the game. I’ve also witnessed these same men laugh and carry on like best friends, in the dressing room, after the game. During the game, we don’t seem to realize that it’s “just a game.” But afterwards, once the dust settles, “it’s all good.” Quite a bit like life here too. If we can just realize, each and every day, as we communicate with people that it’s not worth losing your temper and falling headlong into a dungeon of rage. Settle down, be kind, and enjoy the game. Settle down, be kind, and enjoy life.

4. “Go hard.” This is a term that one of our shinny hockey buddies uses often, usually, if you are jumping on the ice to play just before him. He repeats this phrase almost every time he’s at a game. I like it. I like it for a couple of reasons: First, a much better cardio is available and realized if you “go hard.” And second, again, it reminds me of life and what and who I am. Before anything else, I am a christian. I love The Lord and walk with him as a result of his love for me. Jesus went to cross for me. He shed his blood for my sins. His love is incomprehensible, and even though I don’t understand the love of God, I’m so thankful. And that’s why I try to “go hard” for the kingdom of God. I try to walk with him and love him in a big way. I try not to leave my house each day before I get into his presence in prayer. I try to teach others about the incredible love and mercy of God. I try to worship him with all my heart when I attend church. I try to be honest and faithful to him, my family, and others. What a mighty God is Jesus my Lord.

So, these are some of the lessons I’ve learned from hockey. edarbeau