I loved having sleepovers as a child. Obviously, who didn’t? The thought of spending 12 straight hours with your same friend was almost overwhelming to the heart. SO MANY THINGS WE WOULD DO TOGETHER. And then after, we would tell all our other friends how many fun things we did without them. TAKE THAT! We live such eccentric elementary-aged lives. You’d never believe it.
So when I was younger my parents spoiled my brothers & I, and would often get tickets to the local AHL (American Hockey League) games, and since tickets weren’t as expensive as the NHL, they’d let us take our friends with them. This was MAJOR as a child because not only were we having a SLEEPOVER we were priding ourselves in front of the whole class, showing off whom our best friend was. Caitlin always came with me (shout out to my elementary school BF!). When you’re a child having a best friend is the equivalent of having a significant other. You want everyone to know who your best friend is. It’s sort of awkward when you think about it in retrospect as an adult, but seriously when you’re younger it’s really super important to show off your friendship.
So it’s a Friday night and we’re going to the Phantoms game, and Cait and I are PUMPED. The teams are warming up, (I can’t quite recall the other team they were playing at the time seeing as I was in about third grade), the music is blasting, and we’re standing by the ice pounding our little fists on the glass shouting at the players as if they can hear our little prepubescent voices.
Frank the Animal was currently on the roster. If his name doesn’t ring a bell to you, the man was obviously a beast on ice. I’ve always had a soft spot, even at a young age, for the ruthless bad boys, and as he warmed up I hit the glass as hard as I possibly could to get his attention. Much to my surprise, he actually turned around. It was the end of the warm ups, and the man started gathering the pucks on the ice. Then, holy hell, he started skating back to us TO GIVE US THE PUCKS. When you’re 10 years old at an AHL game, and someone is actually paying attention to you, better yet you’re favorite player, this may be the best moment of your life.
He starts throwing the pucks over the glass to us. Now, I’ve always grown up playing sports. I’ll be honest, I’m very athletic. I’ve won awards, trophies, MVPs. Maybe it was an off day. Maybe it was something about being so overwhelmed since my idol saw me. I don’t know what it was, but I. DIDN’T. CATCH IT. Not only did I not catch the first puck Frank threw, it hit me. square. in. the. damn. head. I stammered a bit, I’m a little zonked, he throws the rest of the pucks all in one toss. I cannot make this up, EVERY. SINGLE. PUCK. that man threw over the glass hits me straight in the face. Ten frozen pucks hitting this ten year old girl right in the face, knocking me straight to the ground. My parents, a few rows away, watched laughing hysterically. According to my friend, brothers, and parents, Frank looked absolutely horrified. I actually think the man knocked me unconscious. Oh, & the cherry on top, LITTLE KIDS CAME AND TOOK EVERY SINGLE PUCK & RAN AWAY LEAVING NONE FOR ME.
I don’t remember if the Phantoms won that night. Probably because I had a concussion. But I do know that to this day that was my family’s favorite Phantoms game ever. Oh and I made my parents buy me extra pizza that night to stop my crying. Damn straight.