Confessions of an Old Hockey Goalie
By Bruce Valley
About Bruce Valley
Former Navy test pilot Bruce Valley has been an amateur hockey goaltender for almost six decades. A jazz musician and poet, he is chief executive of an aerospace corporation in Alexandria, Virginia, where he lives with his wife of many years, Nancy. They have two children and six grandchildren, several of them hockey players. His poetry volume, Rye Harbor and Other Poems of the Seacoast, has been out of print for three decades.
Daylight still eludes—the cold so pervasive it reaches through clothes and skin to your bones.
A deep silence reigns over the shadowed pond. Stillness everywhere.
No possibility of snow at such temperatures—or of lacing skates unless the job is done quickly.
Taking a first stride as I slip gloves on and reach reflexively for a puck from my pocket,
I see before me in the pre-dawn that magical surface of which all hockey players dream—
an endless expanse of unbroken, untouched, gleaming black ice.
Alone, I poke amiably at the black disk with my old Northland Pro, then begin a circuit,
dodging and weaving to fend off imaginary foes.
The crisp sound of blades cutting ice rasps in the frigid air.
The birches seem to quiver at the noise.
An owl stares down from the height of an old oak.
From the Introduction to Seahawk:
"This book was written for the love of a game. For hockey.
"Most would find a certain incongruity between the speed, violence, and apparent brutishness of hockey and the softness, caring, and intimacy of the emotion we call love. My half-century of playing hockey, however, suggests nothing of the kind. There is no incongruity at all.
"No other contact sport inspires the enduring loyalty and deep love that hockey does—not football, not rugby, not soccer. And while hockey fans are legend, the true believers are those who have actually played the game."