Chapter 23

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Abby made her way up the bleachers past other spectators to Caroline and sat next to Andrew.  Caroline offered her a paper sack full of French Fries, and Abby gladly accepted.  She had not eaten any thing since this morning and she thought that could be contributing to her emotional day.

“There doesn’t seem to be more than one team on the ice,” said Abby.

“It’s actually a pickup game tonight.  They all play together.  The real contest comes at the winter carnival when other teams come in,” said Caroline.

“Is that so?”

“The boys say these ongoing games are preparation.”

“Preparation for what exactly?”

“Defending the honor of Willow Lake when the festival rolls around.”

“Have there been any hockey wins like when we were kids?”

“Despite some of the older fellas out there, Willow Lake still manages to hold its own,” said Caroline.

Mitch entered the rink with high fives from some of the nearest skaters.  The thirty-seven year old boy glided into the middle of the other players and immediately fell into play.  What happened next was choosing of sides and three periods of action that involved no high sticking, little checking, and quite a bit of cycling of the players to keep them fresh.  Abby had seen many practice games that had more vigor.  The players tried to hold their youth yet when the steel hit the ice, their age was revealed.  To say that the players were kind to each other would be an overstatement, though they certainly were respectful.  The puck did get a lot of movement though and no one stayed still for long.  Brian and Mitch played against each other and the end score tallied two to one, and not due to lack of play.  Neither side had allowed the other to score, regardless of attempts on the net.

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