Sean-Paul Byrne

The Shift

Sitting on the bench, watching…waiting…thinking, my shift, up next. The puck flies into the opposing zone, icing, and back to our end of the ice. Finally, I’m thinking, a line change, what I’ve been anticipating; a first stride off the bench, towards the face-off. The puck is dropped, eyes peeled for the man I’m covering, the center pulls the puck back to me and I shoot it around the boards like a bat outta hell to the right wing, awaiting my saucer pass. He floats the puck right off his stick, through the defender’s legs and right back to me, two on one, me and my center against one opposing defenseman. The defensemen steps up at the blue line to throw a check, so just like that, the puck is off my stick and into the hands of my center, who is all alone and rifles one top right corner…glove save…denied. Whistle blows halting play. As the play stops, so do the bodies, everyone gliding back to their positions at the face-off or back to the bench for a quick line change. I am back thinking of the next play, where I need to be, who I need to watch, not who is in the stands tonight or what show is on later. My head in the game as though I was in the middle of the most intense game of Super Smash Brothers. Adrenaline pumping, heart thudding, never stopping from the first step on the ice to the last step off. Back once again to the face-off, lined up just outside the circle to the left of my center, eager to get back into play. Once more the puck is dropped and as before is pulled from the face-off to me, only this time BAM…leveled by the opposing defender, my feet fly up over my head and I land flat on my back causing the puck to stray loose for the defender to grab. Scrambling to get back up and into play, just as the defender drops the puck back to the point, who snipes a shot just over the shoulder of my goalie and clashing off the glass behind the net. The puck returns to our possession and we move it to the other end of the ice. The puck being cycled around the net as though our sticks had been put on a spin cycle and the puck just happened to get caught in the middle of everything. Next thing I know, I’m in front of the net, wide open and here comes the puck in s-l-o-w m-o-t-I-o-n right to me and …SNAP…one timer, straight shot, 5-hole. This is it, my heart has never beat faster than this, one-timer right into the net to take the lead with 2 minutes left in the 3rd period. Adrenaline pumping as fast as it will ever be, throwing my hands up into the frigid air of the rink towards my team mates. As I skate back to the bench, nothing but cheers, high fives, congratulations and maybe even the occasional pat on the butt here and there come my way. And back to the bench I am, sitting…waiting…watching…


Copyright 2002-2007 Student Publishing Program (SPP). Poetry and prose 2002-2007 by individual authors. Reprinted with permission. SPP developed and designed by Strong Bat Productions.