The Hockey Mysteryby Gertrude Chandler Warner, Hodges Soileau
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Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny used to live alone in a boxcar. Now they have a home with their grandfather and they have become friends with a real pro-hockey player. The Boxcar Children cannot believe it when they meet their favorite hockey star, Kevin Reynolds, while out skating one day. Kevin is coaching a girls’ hockey team and planning to build a huge new skating rink right in Greenfield. Kevin offers Jessie a place on the team and Henry is going to be assistant coach! As soon as practices begin, however, strange things start to happen. Suddenly, equipment is missing and Kevin’s plans for the new rink are almost ruined. Is someone trying to prevent Kevin’s new rink from being finished? The Boxcar Children want to help their new friend and solve this mystery!
Read an Excerpt
The Hockey Mystery
By GERTRUDE CHANDLER WARNER, Hodges Soileau
ALBERT WHITMAN & CompanyCopyright © 2001 Albert Whitman & Company
All rights reserved.
A Hockey Star in Greenfield
"He shoots—he scores!" Benny Alden shouted, racing down the ice. Although only six, he was a strong skater. When he reached the end of the rink, he threw his arms above his head and glided around in a circle, a victorious smile on his face. But a moment later he lost his balance and ended up sitting on the ice. "Ouch!" he said, getting slowly to his feet.
Benny's fourteen-year-old brother, Henry, skated up next to him.
"You okay?" he asked.
"Yeah," Benny said. "I guess I need to practice a little more."
It was open skating time at the Greenfield Rink, and the children were having a great time racing around the ice.
"I'll help you," Henry said, skating beside Benny. After the boys had circled the ice a few times, they decided to take a break. As they stepped off the ice, their twelve-year-old sister, Jessie, skated over. She'd been out in the center of the rink, practicing some turns. Their sister Violet, who was ten, joined them a moment later.
"Benny, I saw you zooming up the ice before," Jessie said. "Who were you pretending to be, Kevin Reynolds?" she asked, naming her little brother's favorite hockey star.
Benny's face broke into a big smile. "I wish! He's only the greatest hockey player ever!"
"I'm glad you think so," said a deep voice next to them. The children turned to see a broad-shouldered blond man standing be- side them. When they realized who he was, their eyes grew wide.
"No way!" Benny said in amazement. "You're—you're—"
"Kevin Reynolds," the man said with a smile. He had friendly brown eyes and was wearing his Scouts jersey with the number fifteen on the back. Until he retired the year before, Kevin Reynolds had been one of the biggest stars in professional hockey. He had helped his team win the Stanley Cup five years in a row. He had been one of the leading goal scorers in the National Hockey League for ten years. And he had been chosen by the fans to play in the All-Star game twelve times.
"I don't believe it!" said Henry.
"And you are ...?" Mr. Reynolds prompted them.
"We're the Aldens," Jessie said. "I'm Jessie and this is Benny, Henry, and Violet."
Kevin Reynolds put out his hand and shook each child's hand firmly.
"What are you doing here, Mr. Reynolds?" Benny asked.
"Call me Kevin," he said, his eyes twinkling. "I'm doing the same thing you are—skating."
Benny looked confused. What was Kevin Reynolds doing at their little town rink? He was usually out on the ice with hockey greats like Wayne Gretzky—not regular people like the Aldens. "But why here?" Benny asked.
Mr. Reynolds laughed a deep hearty laugh. "I grew up in Greenfield," he explained. "I learned to skate right here in this rink when I was just about your age."
"That's right," Jessie recalled. "There are pictures of you and the whole Scouts team on the wall over there." She pointed.
"We were pretty sad when you retired last spring," Henry said.
"I've gotten too old to play professional hockey. Time to let some of the younger guys take over," Mr. Reynolds said. "You kids look like pretty good skaters. Are you going to play in the hockey mini-league?"
"What mini-league?" Benny wanted to know.
"I saw a poster about that in the lobby—it starts next week and goes for about a month, doesn't it?" Henry said.
"Yes," said Kevin Reynolds. "I'm coaching one of the teams—for twelve- year-old girls. My daughter, Catherine, is on it."
"Hey, I could play on that team," Jessie said.
"I thought you only liked figure skating," Benny said to Jessie.
"It's never too late to try something new," said Jessie.
"That's right!" said Mr. Reynolds. "Many of the kids in this league haven't played before. And I'm looking for an assistant coach. Henry, I saw how well you worked with Benny—how about helping out on my team?"
Henry's broad smile answered Kevin's question. "I'd love to," he said.
"Hey, what about me?" asked Benny.
Kevin looked at Benny thoughtfully. Then he squatted down so that his face was on Benny's level. He placed his hand on Benny's shoulder. "There's no team for your age group, but I'd be happy to give you some skating lessons after Jessie's practice is over."
Benny was so excited that he didn't know what to say. The other Aldens laughed, because they'd never seen him speechless before.
"That sounds great," Benny said at last.
"And you, too, Violet, if you'd like," Kevin added.
Violet smiled shyly and nodded.
"Great, then it's all settled," he said. "I'll see you here next week," Kevin called over his shoulder as he skated away. "Six A.M. sharp!"
"Six A.M.?" Jessie repeated. "It's still dark out then!"
"If you're going to play hockey, you have to get used to getting up early for practice," Kevin said. "That's when the rinks let us use the ice."
"Okay," said Jessie. "I guess I'll be getting up early!"
The Aldens couldn't wait to go home and tell their grandfather they'd met Kevin Reynolds that day. They quickly packed up their things and headed back to their house.
After the death of their parents, the Aldens had run away and lived in an old boxcar they'd found. But as soon as they learned that they had a kind grandfather who was looking for them, they came to live with him in his big house in Greenfield. Their grandfather had even moved their old boxcar to the backyard so they could still play in it.
When they got home, Grandfather was sitting in the library in his favorite big leather armchair. He looked up from his book when the children came in. "How was skating?" he asked, putting the book aside.
"It was great!" said Jessie.
"You'll never guess who we saw at the rink!" cried Benny. But without giving Mr. Alden a chance to guess, Benny added, "Kevin Reynolds!"
"He's moving back to Greenfield," Violet explained.
"Yes, I remember reading something about that in the paper," Grandfather said. He picked up the Greenfield News, which was folded on the side table, and looked at the front page. "Here it is," he said, reading a headline aloud, "'Hockey Star to Build New Ice Rink in Greenfield.'"
"He's building a new rink?" Henry said. "He never mentioned that."
"It says here that they're still working on the plans, and then the town council has to approve them." Grandfather's eyes moved quickly down the article. "It also says Kevin Reynolds is coaching a team in the winter mini- league."
"I'm playing on his team," Jessie said.
"And I'm helping coach," Henry added.
"And he's giving Violet and me lessons!" said Benny.
"How exciting!" Mr. Alden said.
A week later, the Aldens got up very early to get ready for skating. Henry had helped Jessie pick out equipment and hockey skates at the pro shop at the rink. She put all of her hockey gear into her skating bag, which already held her figure skates and skating dresses.
"Can't you just wear your figure skates?" Benny asked when he saw Jessie putting her new hockey skates in the bag.
"No, hockey skates are different. They're harder and more padded to protect your feet. Also, the blades on hockey skates don't have teeth at the front, since you don't need to do any jumps or spins," Jessie explained.
Mrs. McGregor, their housekeeper, gave the children a hearty breakfast of eggs, toast with homemade raspberry jam, and orange juice. "You'll need lots of energy for skating," she said.
When the Aldens arrived at the rink, Henry went to find Kevin Reynolds and get ready for the team's first practice. Benny and Violet went up to the bleacher seats to watch. Jessie headed to the locker room to change, her stick in her hand and her large skating bag slung over her shoulder. She stopped at the water fountain, set her bag down, and rested her stick on top of it. Then she bent over to get a drink.
She had just finished getting the drink when she saw a small woman with a bouncy brown ponytail and a cheery smile coming down the hall. It was Tracey Lippert, her figure skating teacher for the past five years.
"Hello, Jessie!" Tracey called out. "Are you here to start working on a new routine?"
"Actually, I'm here to play hockey," Jessie said.
"Hockey?" Tracey repeated. "You're joking, right?" Then she noticed
Jessie's bag with the hockey stick laid across the top and could see that it was not a joke. Suddenly Tracey's face clouded over. "You're playing on that mini-league team? The one Kevin Reynolds is coaching?"
Jessie nodded slowly, wondering why Tracey was upset. "Yes, I thought I'd give it a try."
"Then when are you going to have time for your figure skating?" Tracey asked abruptly.
"You could have won a medal in the All-County Championships this year."
"Do you really think I could have won a medal?" Jessie asked, her voice quavering. She'd never seen her teacher angry like this.
"Yes, you could have," Tracey said. "You're making a big mistake." And with that she walked off, her ponytail swinging behind her.
"Wow, she certainly was upset about something," said Violet, coming up behind Jessie.
Jessie stood stunned, looking after Tracey. "She doesn't want me to play hockey."
"Why not?" asked Violet.
"She says I won't have enough time for my figure skating," Jessie said.
"But I don't know why she was so upset."
Violet looked thoughtfully after Tracey. "I don't know, either," she said. She took a sip of water from the fountain.
Jessie picked up her stick and hoisted her big bag over her shoulder.
"Want some help getting your equipment on?" Violet asked.
"Thanks." Jessie smiled. "That would be great." Together the two girls entered the locker room.
Jessie set her bag and stick down in front of an empty locker and began taking out her various pads and pieces of clothing. There were so many! She was used to wearing just a little dress and tights when she skated. But now she had to wear pads to protect her from being bumped by other players or hit by sticks or the puck. Over the pads, Jessie pulled on her practice jersey. She felt big and awkward. "I hope I'll be able to move in all this stuff!" she said with a laugh.
Henry was on the ice, talking to Mr. Reynolds. Benny stood by the glass, watching. Even though it was so early, several men and women were sitting in the bleacher seats to watch the practice. Some were there to see their daughters skate. Others wanted to see Kevin, the hockey star, up close. A few were members of the town council, there to learn more about the man who intended to build the new rink.
"Coach Reynolds is about to start practice," Benny called to Jessie.
Jessie made her way out to the end of the rink, where several girls had gathered around the coach.
A tall blond girl came up next to Jessie. "Hi, I'm Cathy Reynolds," she said.
"You're the coach's daughter, aren't you?" Jessie said with a friendly smile. "I'm Jessie Alden."
"Yeah, that's my dad," Cathy said.
"Welcome to Greenfield," said Jessie. "Where did you live before?"
"In New York City," Cathy said. "We just moved here last week. Maybe you could show me around."
"I'd love to," said Jessie. "Greenfield is a great town. After practice I'll take you to my favorite ice-cream place, The Scoop."
"Sounds good to me," said Cathy.
One by one, other girls emerged from the locker room with their hockey equipment. At last the whole team was assembled.
"In case you don't know me, I'm Coach Reynolds." His voice was loud and friendly. "The name of our team is the Polar Bears. My assistant, Henry Alden, is going to hand out jerseys and schedules at the end of the practice. We've got a great group of girls here, and we're going to have a great team—right?" He paused, and a couple of girls said, "Right, Coach."
"Come on, where's your spirit?" he asked. Then he repeated his question even louder. "Are we going to have a great team?"
"Yes!" the girls shouted excitedly.
Coach Reynolds laughed. "That's more like it! Before we start, why don't you each tell us your name and how much experience you have with skating and hockey."
Jessie listened as the girls spoke one by one. A petite girl with short black curly hair spoke first. "Hi, I'm Beth, and I don't have a lot of experience playing hockey, but it looks like fun!" She smiled at Jessie.
Some other girls had played on teams before. But many, like Jessie, hadn't even considered hockey until now. It seemed that Kevin Reynolds's return to Greenfield had gotten everyone excited about hockey.
Soon it was Cathy's turn. "I'm the coach's daughter," she said. "I've been playing hockey since I was little. I think I knew how to hold a hockey stick before I could walk."
Everyone laughed. Since Jessie was standing next to Cathy she was next. "I've been skating for a long time, too. But I've only done figure skating. This is my first time trying hockey."
When she'd finished, Jessie turned to Cathy and tried to catch her eye. But Cathy looked troubled. Jessie wondered what was bothering her. But before she could ask, Coach Reynolds was starting the practice.
First he led them in some basic stretches to loosen up their muscles. Then he had them skate around the rink a few times, to warm up and to see how well they skated. Jessie felt good on the ice. She'd been skating since she was little and had gotten to be very good at it.
Jessie noticed that the coach had sent Henry off the ice to get something. She wondered what it was. As she made her last circle around the ice, she saw Henry come back empty-handed. He skated over to Coach Reynolds, and the two stood talking for a moment.
Now all the girls had finished loosening up and were ready for the next activity. But something was wrong. Henry and the coach were still talking off to one side. It looked as if something was bothering them.
"I know, but I put them there just last night," Jessie heard Kevin say. "I just don't understand," he continued. "Why would someone steal them?"
Henry said something quietly to Coach Reynolds.
Kevin thought for a moment, looking down the length of the ice. Then he turned back to Henry. "That's a good idea."
Henry skated quickly off the ice.
Benny was waiting by the glass. He'd heard what Coach Reynolds had said.
"Henry, what's going on? Was something stolen?"
"I can't talk now," Henry said. "I'll explain later."
Henry was gone for just a few moments, but it seemed like forever. A few of Jessie's teammates began to fidget or adjust their laces. Kevin looked up toward the bleachers and shrugged. Jessie suddenly remembered that a group of parents and town council members were watching them practice. One man looked at his watch and frowned.
Finally Henry was back, his arms filled with mittens, gloves, and knitted hats.
"Great!" said Kevin when Henry had reached the center of the rink. "Spread them out the way we discussed."
"Okay!" Henry said. He then skated down the ice, dropping a hat or mitten every few feet.
"What do you think he's doing?" one of the girls said to Jessie.
Jessie shrugged. "I don't know, but I guess we'll find out soon."
Jessie glanced up at the small audience in the bleachers again. They were turning to one another with puzzled looks and pointing toward the rink. A few leaned in together and began whispering. A few others began shaking their heads. They didn't look happy.
The man who had been checking his watch stood up and shouted over to Kevin, "What does making a mess have to do with teaching kids hockey Reynolds?" He pointed at the ice, which was littered with mittens and hats.
"You'll see," Kevin called back.
When Henry was finished, Kevin explained, "We're going to do some skating, stickhandling, and passing drills. I was planning to arrange some orange cones for you guys to skate around. You know, like you'd see on a highway where roadwork is being done. I bought them last night and put them in my office here. But when Henry went to look for them just now, they were gone! At first it looked like I might have to come up with a whole different set of drills! But Henry came to the rescue."
"You mean we're going to use the mittens and hats instead of cones?" Jessie asked.
"That's right," said Kevin. "He got a bunch of stuff out of the lost-and-found bin to use instead of cones." Kevin showed the girls how to skate around the gloves and hats, smoothly weaving in and out. Then the girls tried it.
Excerpted from The Hockey Mystery by GERTRUDE CHANDLER WARNER, Hodges Soileau. Copyright © 2001 Albert Whitman & Company. Excerpted by permission of ALBERT WHITMAN & Company.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Meet the Author
Gertrude Chandler Warner (1890–1979) was an American author of children’s books, most notably the nineteen original titles in the Boxcar Children Mysteries series. Warner was raised in Putnam, Connecticut, across the street from a railroad station, which later inspired her to write about children living in a boxcar. In 1918, she began what would become a thirty-two-year career teaching first and third grade at the Israel Putnam School. She died in Putnam on August 30, 1979, when she was eighty-nine years old. But the Boxcar Children live on: To this day, talented authors contribute new stories to the series, which now includes over one hundred twenty books.
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I think this would be a good book for hockey lovers.
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