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Smell leaned forward from the bench, gripping his stick in his gloves. "Come on, Dan! Aw, manhe lost the puck!" He turned to me. "Did you see that? A two-year-old could've made that pass."
"Relax, Smell. It's only the first game of the season." I was watching the action on the ice intently.
"I can't relax. Ridgewood PeeWees have lost the city championships for three years in a row to the same team. It's not going to happen this year, Zach. We're a bunch of new guys to this division, but we're gonna fight."
"Southglen won't have a chance, eh?" I tensed, ready for the shift change. "You and I can whip 'em, even if they are ten times bigger than us."
"Speak for yourself." Smell tried to look offended. His real name was Justin, but with a last name like Mellingwell, that practically begged for a nickname like Smell. I was shorter than Smell by a couple of inches, but he was no giant, that's a fact. "The Rebels are a bunch of losers anyway. They play the dirtiest hockey I've ever seen."
"We can take them," I said confidently. I'd heard that the Southglen Rebels were a tough team, but I was so glad to be playing hockey again after the summer break, anything seemed possible.
"If you're scoring, we can." Smell stood up as Coach gave the gate a quick rattle, the signal for a line change. Smell and I scrambled out on the ice, along with our defencemen and Colby Swanson, who was playing centre today. Coach had me on left wing, a position I don't like as much as centre, but that's okay. Hockey is still hockey, no matter where you play. I've played hockey since I was seven. I love the action, the strategy, and the speed. But scoring is the ultimate rush. You feel like you can conquer the world.
Cole won the faceoff and snapped the puck to me.
"Get in there, Zach!" The guys yelled from the bench.
I swept the puck between the opposing defencemen, cut sideways, and was doing some fancy stickhandling when one of them tried to swipe the puck. I was showing off. I knew it. But most of the time, I can skate circles around these big guys. Being small has some advantages. I shifted to the outside to avoid the cluster of players in front of the net. I wanted to get a clear shot. The first goal of the PeeWee season had my name written all over it.
My blades whirred against the ice and I squinted at the goalie, judging the best place to fire the puck and dodging a defenceman at the same time. I focused on the lower right corner, where the goalie had left a gap between himself and the netreadyand
Something that felt like a semi-truck hit me and I flew sideways, my stick and glove wrenched from my hand. I saw the boards moving toward me with blurring speed, then I heard a sickening crunch when I hit. At first I thought the sound was my helmet or pads, but a white-hot pain exploded in my wristthe one without the gloveand I knew something was seriously wrong. The arena lights wavered above me as I tried to get up, but the pain streaked up my arm, and I couldn't do anything but lie there gasping, stranded on the ice. I blinked when Dan kneeled down beside me.
"Zach, are you okay?" I could hear the concern in his voice.
I was trying to remember to breathe. "No. My arm," I managed to say. Things got a bit fuzzy after that. The coaches were kneeling beside me, and the trainer brought out the stretcher. The next thing I knew, I was on my way to the hospital, still in full hockey gear.
What a great way to start the season.