Family: Heroes come in all shapes and sizes

It sure is cold out!

But, hockey fans, particularly those of us who live in Alberta, home to wild roses, barbed wire fences and copious amounts of snow, are feeling toasty warm at the moment.

We have a new hero. A new Alberta born hockey hero.

Tyler Steenbergen was on the ice for a total of seven minutes during the World Junior Championship Game against Sweden when he scored the game-winning goal. The shot came off a deflection from defenceman Connor Timmins with less than two minutes left in the game.

I’m sure that in living rooms everywhere, their eyes focused on the game, people were yelling, waving their arms and being generally very excited when that puck went in.

As for me, I was absolutely thrilled.

“Hey, that guy is from Sylvan,” I yelled, feeling ever so proud, almost like I knew the guy personally.

A few weeks before the game, I had been sitting in church and the minister announced that Tyler Steenbergen, whose parents were also in church, had been selected to play for the world juniors. I casually mentioned that fact to my husband later, as we sat down to a Sunday morning breakfast of scrambled eggs and coffee.

And now, even as we shiver and freeze through another Alberta winter, we have that one shining moment in time when Canada won the world juniors to remember.

And more specifically, we have that one shining moment in time when the goal was scored by a hometown kid bringing Canada to a gold medal win.

Scoring the goal made Tyler Steenbergen a hero in the eyes of hockey fans everywhere.

And that is a good thing.

The world needs heroes, whether they are hockey heroes, or simply every day heroes. I truly believe that.

I think heroes serve to remind us that despite broken dreams and sadness, all that is excellent and worthwhile in this old world does very much exist and is worth pursuing.

Last weekend, my husband and I watched a couple of other young hockey heroes in the making.

Two of our grandsons were in a three-day hockey tournament.

We soon learned it was a cold arena that the boys played in. Apparently the overhead heaters did not come on unless spectators could see their breath and were willing to stamp their feet for a very long time, an action that seemed to jar the heaters into action.

I looked up at the heaters, which were obviously not running; resolutely wrapped my fingers around the comforting warmth of the Styrofoam coffee cup and searched the ice for No. 7.

No. 7 is a little guy, He is incredibly cute, and along with his hockey jersey, he wears a grin that melts your heart, on and off the ice.

No. 7 played hard, got the puck some, fell down some and kept on smiling. At the end of the game he received the third star award. His grandpa and I were proud, but quietly so, only nodding and smiling discretely at each other the way grandparents do when their grandson receives a third star award.

“I was third best,” grandma, he said to me later. “Oh sweetheart,” I said, gently correcting him, “in grandma’s eyes you were first best.”

His brother’s game was next. And, I’m not sure if the spirit of competition (knowing his younger sibling had won third star) that prompted him to try just a little harder than he may have tried otherwise. All we do know is when the game ended, he skated off the ice with the third star and the heart and hustle award.

Once again, the boys’ grandpa and I looked at each other and smiled broadly.

Later, I flashed a big happy grin to everyone in the arena, secretly hoping they would know that I was the grandma of No. 7 and No. 20.

Many years ago, I perched my little snowsuit clad self on the frozen snow banks that flanked the rough boards of a tiny outdoor rink so I could watch my brothers play hockey.

They played for the Condor Comets. I thought they were the best hockey players the world had ever known. The rink is no longer part of the landscape of that tiny town, but, oh, I remember it well, and I remember hockey and the way we were.

And I think about heroes; hockey heroes and every day heroes who, without warning, show up to make our lives and our world a better place.

And the thought makes me smile one more time!

Treena Mielke is the editor of the Rimbey Review.

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