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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
Unlike baseball, hockey is a sport that rarely elicits written sentiment. Yet Jay Atkinson's Ice Time shows that hockey, like America's Pastime, is a lifelong passion that cements the bonds between father and son. Tracking the progress of the Methuen High Rangers, Atkinson pays tribute to the rugged sport in which "if you don't shovel, you can't play."
The 42-year-old author volunteers as assistant coach for the Methuen (Massachusetts) High hockey team. He is unsure of his role, certain only that he wants to give something back to his school and the sport he loves. During the season the author lives vicariously through his charges -- and on occasion laces up the skates and fires a few slap shots himself. As is often the case in these mentoring roles, Atkinson gets as much from the adolescents as they do from him. Between coaching and playing, Atkinson monitors the progress of his five-year-old son, Liam, who skates for the Little Rangers.
Characters on the Methuen Rangers include a goaltender, Dan Bonfiglio, with a pacemaker and a heartache for a girl named Emily. Chris Cagliuso and bad-boy Ryan Fontaine are the team's stars. The extent to which Ryan's slip-ups are policed indicates how seriously the Rangers take their team. The Rangers improve upon their 6-12-2 record of the prior season, and Atkinson captures their climactic run with the skill of an experienced (if somewhat biased) play-by-play announcer.
Ice Time conveys the author's passion for hockey, and his equally fervent desire for Liam to develop that same fire. A feeling of imminent mortality pervades the text, but what the author cannot leave on the ice he can leave for his son. "What could I pass onto Liam," Atkinson asks, "that's more valuable than joy?" (Brenn Jones)