Open Ice

Open Ice

4.7 4
by Pat Hughes

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All his life, crowds have been cheering for Nick Taglio.
He’s been skating since he could walk, scoring goals since he picked up a hockey stick. He’s only a sophomore but he rules the ice, because Nicky Tag’s a fighter. Which means you have to take some hits; concussions come with the territory. When he gets another head…  See more details below


All his life, crowds have been cheering for Nick Taglio.
He’s been skating since he could walk, scoring goals since he picked up a hockey stick. He’s only a sophomore but he rules the ice, because Nicky Tag’s a fighter. Which means you have to take some hits; concussions come with the territory. When he gets another head injury, his doctor, his parents, and his coach tell him he can never play again. Too dangerous, they say. He can’t risk his future.
But they don’t understand that without hockey, Nick has no future. It’s not a game, it’s his life. And nobody can stop him from playing.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
Hockey was Nick's whole life. From the first time he stepped on the ice until his sophomore year of high school, Nick ate, slept, and breathed hockey. But after a brutal on-ice takedown, Nick is left with both an unfortunate diagnosis (grade-three concussion) and a frustrating prognosis (no more hockey, ever). Still reeling from the brain trauma, Nick struggles to accept his new, hockey-less life. It is time for him to figure out who he is off the ice. He will make some missteps along the way—with his girlfriend Devin, his best friend Griff, his parents, and even his two-year-old brother, Gabriel—but will the famous "Nicky Tag" skate into the sunset in the end? Pat Hughes' novel is a believable account of a teenage boy's frustrations and realizations, but graphic depictions of teen sexuality may make this a controversial choice for some collections. 2005, Wendy Lamb/Random House, Ages 15 to 18.
—Heidi Hauser Green
Nick lives to play hockey, but when he suffers yet another severe concussion on the ice, his doctor, his parents, and his coach agree: his hockey career is over. It's too dangerous for him to play again—but hockey is all Nick really cares about, and what's the point of life without hockey? The hot-tempered 16-year-old is first angry and then depressed as he struggles to cope with this devastating blow. He acts out in dangerous ways, too, inadvertently endangering his baby brother's life, taking the family car without permission, and doing his best to alienate his father. Since Nick's no longer a hot athlete, his shallow girlfriend deserts him, and while his friends and parents do their best to be supportive, he must figure out on his own who he is if he's not a hockey player. Nick is a mouthy, horny, hurting, and altogether believable guy, and readers will root for him in this well-told novel, with plenty of snappy dialog, by the author of Guerilla Season and The Breaker Boys. There's enough hockey action to keep sports fans going—also some underage drinking, marijuana smoking, strong language and talk of sex. An interesting take on YA sports fiction. KLIATT Codes: S—Recommended for senior high school students. 2005, Random House, Wendy Lamb, 288p., and Ages 15 to 18.
—Paula Rohrlick
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up-Hockey is more than Nick's favorite sport-it has become the very framework of his life. His friends are all players, his hot new girlfriend's a huge fan, and his hopes for college hang on securing an athletic scholarship. So when his physician, coach, and family all agree, following his fourth concussion, that the 16-year-old star should stop playing the game, it means major upheaval in his life. Hughes's attention to detail in terms of both head injuries and the sport adds lots of pith and interest to this story, and her accurate portrayal of middle-class teen life (which includes sex, obscenities, and pot smoking) should keep reluctant readers turning pages. The central question shifts from the prospect of whether Nick can return to the rink to the more important matter of whether he can regain control of his roiling emotions.-Jeffrey Hastings, Highlander Way Middle School, Howell, MI Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
After high-school sophomore Nick Taglio suffers another concussion in a hockey game, doctors advise against ever playing hockey again. But Nicky Tag's whole life and good-looking-jock persona are wrapped up in the game. Hockey and sex seem to be the focus of Nick's life. He's a fairly unlikable young man-even more self-absorbed and cranky than the average high-school boy-for a good part of his story, and his character seems purposely overdrawn to make his eventual transformation all the more cheering. The accident has thrown him out of his comfort zone, and he has to find a new life for himself, finding girls who seem to like him, not just the popular sports hero, starting to study and discover he just might be smart, and realizing he cares about his little brother. And yet . . . he realizes he can't leave the game. Somehow he must make it back to the ice. Hughes's first young adult novel ought to find an appreciative audience as surely as a shot by Nicky Tag finds the goal. (Fiction. YA)

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Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
3.24(w) x 6.87(h) x 0.79(d)
Age Range:
14 Years

Read an Excerpt


In the dream there's always open ice, just like that night, and he's skating hard on a breakaway, blades hissing quick! quick! quick! while the crowd's roar echoes in his helmet.
Raising his stick to take the shot, he catches something in the corner of his eye, a glimmer, a shadow . . . and then lights over his head, swimming, flashing, the ER, no, the rafters of the rink.
He tries to swear but the word won't come. He doesn't want to shut his eyes but shuts his eyes.
"What's his name?"
"Nick! Nick!"
Now he was looking at a woman EMT, who smiled: "Here he is."
"I'm okay," he said, trying to sit up.
"Easy, Nicky, easy." Coach was kneeling on the ice, rubbing his arm. "You took a bad hit. You were out, pal."
"No, I wasn't, no . . ."
His teammates milled around, a gliding gold and blue mass of worry. But Nick would prove he was all right, get up, skate away. He lifted his head; the building swirled.
"Griff?" Nick said.
"Right here, dude." Griffin leaned close, resting his blocker glove on Nick's arm.
"My head."
"I know," Griff said, a deep frown folded into his face. "I know."
The EMTs slid Nick onto a stretcher. As they rolled him off the ice, his teammates spoke, patting his shoulders, his chest.
"You'll be okay, Tag."
"Game misconduct. The asshole got game misconduct."
"Goddamn Canucks, come here and pull that dirty shit on our ice . . ."
"He fuckin' blindsided you, Tag."
"I noticed," Nick mumbled, and they laughed nervously.
"He's okay."
"Nicky Tag."
"You my dog."
"Don't miss the penalty shot," Nick warned, and their cheer spurred the crowd to echo it.
The one good thing about getting injured was hearing them cheer for you like that. But it was over in no time, and then you were alone with the EMTs and their stupid questions in the bright ambulance.
Nick shut his eyes as they moved toward the lobby. He didn't want to see anybody or try to talk to anybody, except maybe Devin. But here came his parents, calling his name, clutching at his sleeve.
"I'm all right," he mumbled, but his head was so foggy--he'd never felt this bad before. Maybe it was true, everything Blakeman had said. Maybe all of it was true.
"Does one of you want to ride with us?" the EMT asked.
"I will," Nick's mom said.
Then they all melted into a blur; he felt sick to his stomach.
"Mrs. Tag! Mrs. Tag! Is he okay?" Devin's clogs slapping the concrete floor as she ran--that was the last thing he heard.
"He's in and out."
"I don't like the sound of that."
"What's his name?"
This was the drop pass: his old best friends, the EMTs, leaving him for his new best friends, the ER staff, to pick up.
"Okay, Nick? Nick, do you know where you are?"
He skipped to the next question: "George Dubya Bush."
They laughed.
"Nick, do you know what happened to you?"
"Where's my skates?"
More laughter.
"What'd he say?"
"He's worried about his skates."
"Yeah, so would I, if I had Bauer 5000s . . . You get 'em for Christmas, Nick?"
"What's Christmas?" he asked, and they all laughed again.
Someone rubbed his hair: "Oh, we got a funny guy."
"Your mom has your skates."
"Okay, be serious, now. How many fingers am I holding up?"
"What state are we in?"
"Good boy."
"Any vomiting?" ER asked.
"Couple times," EMT answered.
"All right, let's vent him, get some pictures."
Walkie-talkies crackled. "That's us."
"See you, Nick!"
"Good luck, Nick!"
EMTs yelling "good luck" at you. That was a hopeful sign.


He opened his eyes; sunlight flooded the room. Nurse Janeece stood at the bottom of the bed, hands on her hips. Nick raised his hand in a wave.
"You remember me?" she asked.
"How could I forget you?"
"Awake. Alert," she said, grinning as she checked off his chart. "Headache?"
"Not too bad."
"Dizzy? Nauseated?"
"No," he lied.
"How many?" She held up two fingers.
"Peace," he said out, making the sign.
She sighed. "I thought I told you not to come back here again, boy!"
"This one wasn't my fault."
"Uh-huh." She wrapped the blood pressure cuff around his arm.
He had met her in August, when he stayed over with his first grade-three concussion, a last-day memento of hockey camp. Losing consciousness was the hallmark of a grade-three, the most serious level of concussion. Nick had never been knocked out before, and it had really scared him. Nurse Janeece had spent a lot of time with him, distracting him with stories about her kids.
"So, what do you hear?" he asked her.
"Now, you know I can't discuss your condition with you!"
"Well, how are my 'vitals'?" He used his voice to quote the word. "You can tell me my pulse and 'BP,' can't you? Or is that 'actionable'?"
She had her fingers on his wrist. "BP is fine. Now watch me make your pulse rate jump. There's a young lady down the hall for you."
His free hand darted up to his hair.
"No, fool, you don't want to look good! You want the girl to feel sorry for you, maybe give you a little extra sugar! Rumple up that hair and slide under the blanket, shut your eyes and I'll send her in"
Nick was too proud to take the advice, and besides--he wanted to observe the approach. Devin walking toward him was a sight he never got tired of.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Meet the Author

Pat Hughes is an editor at the Philadelphia Inquirer and lives in Pennsylvania. Pat has published two middle-grade historical novels; Open Ice is Pat’s first novel for young adults.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Open Ice 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Jesse Cureton More than 1 year ago
Found this in my local library looking up reference material for a reasearch paper over hockey. I checked it out just for kicks and was suprised by how deep it was. Hughes does a great job with the characters, and you really feel for Nick. You know how it feels on the ice, how being kept from playing kills him, and all the twists along the way. Highly recommended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
At first reading this i was kinda confused. This is a really good book. I would recommend it to anyone. I think some hockey players could relate to this book because every hockey player has gone through a rough injury. But for this hockey player he had his 3rd Concussion. Which will cause him to have to quit hockey. Which is hard on any hockey player.