Twelve years ago, my brother stepped on the ice for the first time. I was only twelve years old, but I remember it like it was yesterday. He was one of the oldest ones at open skate, and struggled to balance and stop. The kid would literally have to run himself into the boards to stop himself from moving.
I have never seen anybody work as hard as my brother, especially when it comes to hockey. From mites, to his first years of travel, to playing on the highest varsity team in high school, my family has made so many memories through this remarkable sport. Today, this road came to an end.
I spent the weekend in Long Beach, New York watching my brother play his last weekend of hockey. Ever. It does not seem possible, but this is now our reality. These games this weekend were the best games of hockey I have ever seen these last twelve years.
The first game, the boys had 46 shots on goal against the other team’s 13. 46 shots – absolutely unreal. They lost a heartbreaker in OT, but it was one of the best games I’ve seen in years. The second game they beat the #1 team in the state 5 to 1. Again, are you kidding me? Coming off a heartbreaking loss and beating the top team, they were one win away from the next round. Later that night was game three, against another Long Island team, and they won 7 to 1. The comeback was impressive and one of the most thrilling experiences of my life.
Today, day three, we had an 8am semifinal game. Walking into the rink we knew we had to win to make it to the finals, but what mattered more was that we had to win to make my brother’s hockey career longer. Even if it was only by one game. We beat the lone-standing Long Island team in the semifinals 7 to 0. The finals was suddenly down to all Western New York teams.
This was the last game. The buzzer sounded, the score was 3-2, and suddenly it was all over. The book has been written and now it has closed in what seems like the blink of an eye. And they were the NYSAAU Champions.
Hockey ending is a huge part of my life ending. I will miss this just as much, if not more, than my brother will. The last twelve years have been spent at so many rinks, in so many cities, and with so many people. This sport will no longer consume my life, but the memories will forever consume my heart.
I watched my brother grow from a determined little guy to a confident young man, and I feel so blessed not only to have had this opportunity, but to have this kid as my brother. He played his last game ever and he came out as the champion I always knew he was.