Hockey Is Family

Ask anyone what the best part about hockey is and they will tell you it’s the people. 

When our kids started playing, my husband and I just hoped they would make friends. Walking into our first Learn To Play Hockey session we never could have imagined the lifelong bonds that not only our kids would make, but us as well.

I have been fortunate to be welcomed into the most selfless and compassionate community for the past 20 years as a hockey mom, and I have witnessed so many genuine acts of kindness and compassion during difficult times. 

Teams, and parents, rally around each other amidst heartache.

A player on my son’s team one year had diabetes, so the moms carried sugary hard candies and bananas in case there was a low blood sugar incident. 

I’ve seen parents huddle together to cheer on an injured player from the opposing team to comfort their tears. 

When a family’s house went up in flames during a winter season, a fundraiser to restore their belongings and well-being was created instantly. 

A mother battling breast cancer never felt alone after a pink the rink tribute and fellow parents made sure her kids always had a ride to and from practice on days she had treatments. 

Hockey teams are extended versions of our families. 

Many of us parents have been lucky enough to find that the camaraderie we had hoped our children would experience on the ice has also extended to us off of it. 

My own appreciation for the hockey community was made especially clear just a few months ago in the most unfortunate circumstances when my husband, John, passed away following a four-year battle with cancer. 

In the eyes of my children, John was the “world’s greatest hockey dad.” His retirement from the Syracuse Police Department following 32 years of service allowed him to fully commit to his second career—being a hockey dad. It was a badge he wore just as proudly as being a cop. His record was impeccable. The kids were never late to a practice, no forgotten gear and never once did he raise his voice in displeasure. John was committed to instilling the value of hard work and being a 

good teammate.

Our world was rocked four years ago with his cancer diagnosis as our daughter was just starting her college hockey career at St. Michaels College. John tried to attend as many games as possible, but eventually the long drives proved too difficult. However, he still found a way to watch, listen or constantly refresh whatever website was providing updates. Sophia’s teammates knew our struggles and while the season can be intense, teammates and parents always went out of their way with all kinds of support and kind words.  

In true hockey fashion, John fought his cancer with dogged determination until he passed away on September 16, 2023. Our heartache remains, but my family has been so comforted by the incredible swell of support and well wishes from hockey families stretching as far back as our earliest years in the game. 

Even though Sophia graduated last year, St. Michaels College held a moment of silence and dedicated a game to John. Cards, calls, texts, flowers, comfort baskets have shown yet again the power of our hockey family. My hockey mom squad even sent a hockey puck wind chime etched with John’s name that now dangles softly outside our back door. The treasured gifts, memories and friendships make up the important parts of life that we’re able to fall back on when feeling broken.

Thanks to all of you for being a part of our USA Hockey family. 

Issue: 
2024-01

Poll

Who is your favorite American player?
Auston Matthews
21%
Jason Robertson
6%
Tage Thompson
10%
Matthew Tkachuk
7%
Patrick Kane
23%
Other
33%
Total votes: 372