Featuring Jayne Erickson, Kelsey Knowles and Stephanie Fauquier
Let me start off this edition of the Sports Writer’s Challenge by saying that I have never played hockey. I’m the girl who had to quit figure skating because I couldn’t do a back-crossover, apparently one of the most basic moves on ice. Kelsey’s dad was in the movie Slapshot, so hockey is in the girl’s blood. My dad was a water-polo player, so clearly it’s not in my blood. But having never played hockey before, this challenge against members of the men’s hockey team gave me a new appreciation for the sport. I mean, I go to games, and I watch these guys make it look easy to balance their 180 lb + frames on 1 cm-wide blades. Apparenly, it’s not that easy.
Let’s start with the teams. My teammate was Jason Cassidy, a 4-year OHL vet who plays right wing for the Tommies. Steph was paired with Corey Banfield, a sharp shooting forward from Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. Together, Steph and Corey’s combined weight was about equal to that of one big hockey player, so “pfft”, I was thinking, “I got this.” The last team was Kelsey and her partner Keith Wynn, a strong, agile defenseman from Orleans, Ontario.
The first challenge was a shootout. Jason told me to get in as close as I could to the goalie, newcomer Charlie Lavigne, before I shot. So I went first, skated in at about the pace of Grandma walking to the corner store, and slid the puck right between his legs. “No problem”, I thought. Both girls missed after that. Round two, Steph somehow snuck the puck into a corner of the net, and Kelsey and I went goalless. Kelsey tied it up in the last round with a surprisingly hard shot. But Kelsey showed up to the challenge with full gear and a helmet with a cage, so I shouldn’t have been surprised that she was a bit more legit than Steph or I.
So we were tied with one goal apeice – it was up to the guys to break the tie. Jason and Keith went in hard, but Charlie stopped them both with ease. Corey on the other hand, dangled left and right, and tossed the puck in. Who was this guy – Sidney Crosby? So somehow, Steph and Corey won Round 1. Embarassment was starting to kick in. I mean, Steph celebrated by twirling into a double axel – come on!
The second challenge was a relay race to the other end and back. The girls went and then tagged their partner, who finished it up for the team. As I saw Kelsey zoom out in front of Steph and I, the reality of my losing set in. “Fine,” I thought, and I caught up to Steph’s figure skates by the end of our leg. I tagged Jason’s hand, and off he went. By then, Keith and Kelsey had already won, and Jason beat Corey. So the score was Steph – 1, Kelsey – 1, Jayne – 0.
The last challenge was a circuit. The guys set up their helmets on the ice, and we would be timed puck-handling through them. I went first, and let me just say that I’m about as graceful as a newborn foal out there. Coming in with a time of 30 seconds, I was pretty happy with the fact that I still had all my teeth, and my ankles were intact for volleyball practice later. Kelsey finished in 17 seconds, the clear winner. Steph rounded it out with 30 seconds, just like me. But since she already had a point, she beat me out.
So the final score was Kelsey in first, Steph in second and me, ungraceful and ashamed in last place. So I swallowed by pride and lost politely. But I swear, if I have to lose to Kelsey “all-sport” Knowles one more time, someone is getting a volleyball to the head.