Sunday, April 05, 2020

Clear as Ice - #Hockey Fiction Prompt Thirteen

Today's prompt is penalty shot.  

Note: The top of this post has been edited to reflect counting by prompts.

Previous entries: Prompt one, prompt two, prompt three, prompt four, prompt five, prompt six, prompt seven, prompt eight, prompt nine, prompt ten, prompt eleven, prompt twelve

Al loved a good penalty shot.  They were more fun in his opinion than overtime shootouts, where you faced off against three different players in quick succession.  However, here, hanging with the junior league team today, he had not planned on facing a penalty shot. 

But the teen acting as ref in today's practice called for one after one of the players in desperation used her stick on the other's skates to stop a breakaway and here they were. 

Penalty shots with players you didn't know, certainly hadn't had time to study beyond the ten minutes of the scrimmage, were always a little more wild.  Al also had way less padding than normal today, since he and Sienna were supposed to be observing this scrimmage and then one goalie had been late, and they had found skates and a stick for him, but had nothing else in his size. 

Pucks were made of dense rubber.  It didn't take a lot of power or strength to make them hurt like hell, but junior league or no, he was also not going to let this puck go by him just to avoid a bruise. 

The skater moved towards him, swishing the puck back and forth with her stick.  Al spread himself wide and tried to watch her eyes.  The cage style masks the team wore were a little different, as far as his visibility on her expression. He saw her glance to his left, and he tensed.  He didn't move yet, waited for her to skate just a smidge closer before she paused infinitesimally and took the shot.  He slid left managing to catch the puck with his shoulder, something he might really regret later today. 

Her teammates gathered around her, and patted her back, telling her what a good shot it was. 

The coach, blew her whistle.  "Hey folks, out goalie has arrived, so let's thank Mr. Tseu." 

He had tried telling the coach they could all call him Al, but she was had shook her head at that.  "Thanks, Mr. Tseu." 

"Thanks to you all for letting me join in.  And now I get to just watch you all, which will be fun."  He waved and accepted some high fives, before striding off the ice to the bench, where he removed the skates. 

Sienna slid onto the bench with him and offered up a gel pack.  "For your shoulder," she said. 

"Thanks.  Where'd you get this?" he asked.  He didn't normally carry around gel packs, the trainers took care of all that for them. 

"I asked the coach if they had some.  They did,"  Sienna shrugged, like it was a normal thing for someone to think of. 

"I appreciate it," he said.  "Ooof."  On the ice there was a pileup of players as one of them had lost her edge and taken down a few fellow players with her.  "I hope they have more of these." 

"They have tons," Sienna said.  "Thanks for coming out here with me today." 

"No worries," Al said.  It was fun to hang out with junior teams.  They still thought literally everything about hockey was the coolest.  He still loved hockey, but the enthusiasm dulled every once in a while, it was easy to spend too much time worrying about stats and trades ad salaries.  Hanging out with teams that just cherished every chance to get on the ice was fun. 

"Well, anyway, I'm sure your busy, so I appreciate it.  And well, I hope you're good at playing through bruises, because if your bruised shoulder keeps you out against the Oaks, I'm not sure the fandom will ever forgive me." 

"Mulvenna is playing against the Oaks," Al said.  "That was already planned.  Although I can't remember if it was announced yet, so shh. But my shoulder's fine. I've been bruised before." 

"Good," Sienna said.  "Well not good that you're bruised obviously.  But you know what I mean." 

The coach blew the whistle, and waved the players to come off the ice.  "That's my cue," Sienna said.  "Can you stick around a bit.  I'd love to talk to you after I talk to the team. 

Al was curious what she had in mind, so he nodded. 

She smiled and left the bench.  He removed the cold pack from his shoulder and looked around at the now empty ice arena.  He was a goalie though.  He was good at being patient.