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THE WAY WE PLAY THE GAME
KAREN S. SCHNEIDER
February 27, 2012
After the hit that left Jack Jablonski paralyzed, the state of Minnesota rewrote its high school rules, but one hockey mom still agonizes over the choices she—and every parent in her position—has to make
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February 27, 2012

The Way We Play The Game

After the hit that left Jack Jablonski paralyzed, the state of Minnesota rewrote its high school rules, but one hockey mom still agonizes over the choices she—and every parent in her position—has to make

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My husband and I have an understanding about attending our son Cade's hockey games: Sometimes he has to sit with me. He prefers to stand alone at the glass behind the net. There Peter can focus on the game, which is why he comes. I come to watch Cade. And talk to the other moms. But mostly I shiver in freezing rinks across Minnesota to be with Peter. "You know, we have no life," I tell him. And he looks me in the eye and promises me one night out a week, just the two of us. But then the life we do have with Cade, 14, and our daughter, Raye, 13, gets in the way. And he'll gaze at me apologetically and say, "Next week."

Still, the real trouble comes from the things Peter tells me when he is not looking at me, and they always start like this: I forgot to tell you....

"I forgot to tell you, Cade was asked to play in the Elite tournament next weekend."

"I forgot to tell you, I told one of the Texas dads that his kid can stay with us while he's in town for tryouts. Actually, the dad, too."

And so he knows: At games, he has to put in his time. An ex-goalie who grew up playing here, he leans in close and explains, "Do you see how their wings open up? They have room to cycle the puck. We don't. We're too high. Do you see?" Now it's my turn to look him in the eyes. "Yes," I tell him.

I have no idea what he's talking about.

If I focus, I can follow the puck. Everything else is a blur. What I pay attention to is the energy. Every time someone goes into the boards, I flinch. Every time the whistle blows, it's the same. "What happened?" I ask Peter.

"Cross-checking," he'll say.

"What happened?" I ask.

"Interference," he'll tell me.

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