Knee vs. Knee
The puck slid across the ice behind their net into the corner and I went after it like any other normal offensive zone fore-check, unaware that those next few moments could potentially be the last time I ever stepped foot onto the ice in my entire high school hockey career. It was my senior year at Wall High School and we weren’t even at midseason yet; I was simply excited to be playing Toms River that night. They were one of the better teams in our league at the time and didn’t exactly have much defensive organization. Being an offense team, I couldn’t wait to play them; we were literally going to skate circles around them.
“I got it, I got it,” I yelled, skating to the corner. “Kyle stay up high.”
He shook his head and took place in front of the net. I got the puck, skated back around behind their net and looked up for Kyle’s eager open stance. However, there was a blue Toms River jersey trucking right at me. Okay, I thought, I’ll just dangle around him and pass to Kyle for the goal, no big deal. Wrong.
As I tried to skate to the left around him I banked the puck off the boards on the right. The Toms River kid was coming at me full speed trying to mutilate my body whether or not I had the puck on my stick. But because he was taller and slower than me, I faked him out. By the time he had realized that I had just dangled and beaten him by bouncing the puck off the boards it was near impossible for him to put a full body check on me. Therefore, the only other option he had was to stick his knee out and try to put some interference between me and the puck, which is a blatant penalty in any hockey league.
I was about halfway around him when his right knee directly collided with mine, immediately forcing the ACL tendon to stretch the wrong way and tear as wet paper would. We both fell to the ice but I was the only one with any sort of injury.
“You asshole,” I indirectly screamed at the kid as I rolled over onto my back.
He got up, grabbed the puck and skated away as if it was nothing. Meanwhile, I laid there like a fourth grader having a seizure, ripping off my helmet and gloves trying to keep my right leg as still as possible in the process. The whistle soon blew and my coach hustled over to help me.
One of the refs skated up, “Is everything alright?”
“Are you kidding,” I got louder, “the kid kneed me!”
I was on my back trying to bite my tongue to take my mind off the pain so I wouldn’t spew curse words coated in saliva and spit.
“Nah, it was a clean hit.”
“Are you serious,” my voice grew vile as I rolled back and forth in the bloodless stabbing that was my knee. “The dirty mother fu--”
“Glen! Can you move your toes,” my coach quickly cut in.
“Yeah, I don’t think anything’s broken I just think something’s torn.”
He shook his head and lowered it almost as if he knew I was going to be out the rest of the season. “Yeah.”
I knew it, too.
Kyle skated over, picked me up and threw my arm around his shoulder. He skated me off the ice, making sure I didn’t put any pressure on the knee. I hobbled to the locker room and slowly removed the top half of gear off my sweaty, miserable body. I sat there aimlessly staring at the floor. My senior year season was done. Just like that. In maybe a five minute span I went from being captain, one of the leading scorers on the team, to the guy on crutches who has to stand with the coaches behind the bench. I was empty. I felt the pain and stiffness and fire filter through my knee. I felt hatred and depression devour my life as an athlete. But the absolute worst of it all: I felt my future in ice hockey melt in less than nothing but a few flattened desolate minutes.