As you may have heard, Thunder Bay is playing host to the Telus Cup this week. The Telus Cup brings together the best Major Midget hockey teams from across Canada to compete for the national championship. The Thunder Bay Kings, as the host team, were granted the privilege of a secured spot in this tournament. They proved they are worthy a few weeks ago in Tisdale, Saskatchewan, when they came very close to winning the Western Regionals. Being both a hockey mom and an avid reader, I have expanded both my understanding of the game, and scope of literary interest after reading some really good books about hockey. These are some of them.
This is my favourite hockey story. You may remember it as the 2008 Canada Reads winner. MacLean’s magazine noted it is “a dazzling display of fictional footwork….the author has not written just another hockey novel; he has turned hockey into a metaphor for magic.” I think that says it all. Quarrington artfully weaves the story of a kid who grows from a delinquent sent to reform school into a hockey super star. You may find yourself trying to prefect the “St. Louis Whirlygig” on this ice after reading this book.
Local history expert David Nicholson chronicles the life of his cousin, Thunder Bay’s Bruce Gamble, and provides a look at the tough life of players in the early years of the NHL. Through this book I learned that the West End Bruins, a team that is still active in Thunder Bay minor hockey, used to be a farm team for the Boston Bruins. Nicholson includes some great photos, including one of the 1950 West End Bantam Bruins sporting buzz cuts and shiny gold and black jackets.
Saul Indian Horse is a gifted hockey player faced with seemingly insurmountable oppression — including residential school and deep-seated racism — coming of age in northern Ontario in the 1960s. This is a book that can open minds, but at its core is about the love of the game. Richard Wagamese is a gifted storyteller, and this book is written beautifully. Indian Horse was a finalist in Canada Reads 2013.
I was excited to learn Angie Abdou, one of my favourite fiction writers, had written a hockey mom book this year. This one is deeply personal, and really should be required reading for hockey parents, coaches, managers, and organizers. Abdou questions the established framework and culture of minor hockey as she chronicles a season at the rink with her son.
This Canadian classic children’s book tells the tragic story of a young boy in Quebec who suffers the humiliation of having to wear a Toronto Maple Leafs hockey sweater. This quote from the story is on the back of old five dollar bills: “The winters of my childhood were long, long seasons. We lived in three places – the school, the church and the skating rink – but our real life was on the skating rink.” Enchanting for both children and adults.
Best of luck to the teams in the Telus Cup! Today at the Fort William Gardens you can take in the semifinal games, at 2 pm and 6 pm. Tomorrow at 1 pm two teams will play for 3rd place, and at 6:30 pm the final game will start. Don’t forget your hot chocolate, warm blanket, and a good book to read while the zamboni is on the ice!
Joanna Aegard – www.tbpl.ca. If you have a comment about today’s column, we would love to hear from you. Please comment below!