Sunday, August 28, 2016

WORLD WIDE HOCKEY TOUR - SOUTHERN EUROPE (B)

He figured this environment would not have been so if the Selects were facing off against a team in one of the larger cities, would it? But, in Mekkar’s intellect and reasoning, once again thanks to the idiotic organizers of this tour the squad was stuck in a small town. As well as performing in this partially constructed building as he pointed out. Mekkar was about to change his perspective to further prepare himself for the upcoming matchup.

In the first period when the winter wind blew through the arena Mekkar could have swore he heard the crowd make a shivering noise in unison. The Native from the North decided to treat this match as if they were outdoors. Similar to, when he was younger, playing on the frozen lake back home in the arctic. That way he could play his normal style with boldness despite the elemental effects on his team as a whole.

Lasse, Mekkar, and Alf all had a huge advantage over most of their spoiled squad members who were used to more modern game conditions. The arctic three had played hockey in much colder weather outdoors and had better adapted to chilly breezes back in the village. Mekkar spoke up and said that, “This was nothing you babies!” Still some of traveler teammates were quite miserable throughout this game. The coaching staff gave more playing minutes to some of the Selects’ team members that were less used to the colder climates. So that to keep their body temperatures warmer and not let it drop too far.

Alf, Lasse, and Mekkar always came prepared and had packed, in their minimal hand carry luggage, beanie caps or toques to put on under their helmets. Growing up in the colder regions teaches one that the top of the head is where the most body heat escapes. They all had extra mittens to put fit under the gloves also. Mekkar’s hand was heavily taped so he was unable to use the gloves or had no need for them. He loaned them to a team member who needed them badly, but charged him to wash them thoroughly before return them back to him. Otherwise, a butt kicking would be in store.

Mekkar also saw during his own quick rink inspection and observation that the glass at the far ends of that rink was shorter than normal. He realized that the home club must prefer puck possession, thus it was a priority in this game. During this match Mekkar also noticed that children would stand right up against the glass to watch the game. Furthermore they would be protected from the crisp wind gusts that whipped through the rink every so often. There was a set of stands on each side of the rink. Even though there wasn’t a large crowd to view the festivities, the sound from the voices would carry. It was much louder than it should have been for the small number of fans in attendance. Most of the Selects were motivated through efforts to retain their body heat and desire to feel warmth on the day. Subsequently, the visitors completely dominated their competition that afternoon by a score of fourteen to one. Mekkar quipped, “This time the shoe is on the other foot and we get to enjoy a blowout for a change.”

If Mekkar thought the last place was an odd environment to have a hockey game, the next match in Italy topped it. After the last tilt, the Selects left by way of a charter airplane along with other modes of transportation. The squad arrived at their destination the next evening.

After checking into their meager accommodations and getting settled Mekkar, Lasse, Alf and Johan headed out on the hunt to find any nightlife. Well, at the very least round up some of the local talent. They all had drinks in their hands during the search. The club they wandered into was not the greatest but Mekkar replied, “The chicks are just okay here but they will look a lot better when we are drunk.”

Those four opportunistic guys all were hooked for the rest of the crisp night. It was tough to get going the next morning when the whole team met together at the hotel a couple of hours before the one o’clock afternoon match. Mekkar felt in the course of the pre-game preparation session that these early game starting times were beginning to cut into his regular party time. He was hoping and embarked on lobbying team management for evening matchups. Favorably for Mekkar, he still had some strong medications for his injuries to help him cope with the unexpected changes.

The native from the north had a sense that something was going to be peculiar for this match. Ever since he became aware that it was going to start earlier than the previous one. When the team arrived at the rink, if one wanted to call it that, Mekkar’s nagging intuition was right on the money.        

In Mekkar’s view this match was about to take the form similar to an outdoor pond hockey game. There were boards with very short glass around the ice surface. However, the boards did not completely surround the rink as they were supplemented by a few huge boulders without any plexiglass on top of them in some spots. The big stones appeared to have been there previously or specifically laid in place by large machinery, thought Mekkar.

Promptly at 1pm the match began. It took full advantage of the daylight since there was no roof, building walls of any kind ringing the area, and only a few light poles existent. Sort of like one would find at your local tennis courts. There were older fans sitting in the portable metal stands on one side of the rink. The rest were standing all around and singing songs, chanting, and making noise in support of their local club.

The Selects skated their rear-ends off as prodded by the coaches and turned in a masterful performance. They had possession of the puck more than eighty percent of the game. It was even more of a dominant performance than the last time out. The drawback was that the home team began to play the body more than the puck. A couple of the Selects were hammered into the big rocks that were part of the rink. Mekkar was involved in one of those incidents too and paid the price. He stated as he was coming to the bench after the hit, “At least the boards have some give, but those rocks are sturdy with no leeway.” Mekkar, unlike a couple of his other fallen and injured teammates, finished the match. Although, not without some discomfort on his part.