Unfortunately, Cody takes Stu, Coach Brackett's son's, spot. Cody is worried that coach is too hard on Stu, and that Stu has as much right to play on the first line as he does. As the pressure to win games mounts, Cody is torn between loyalty to his coach and loyalty to his friend.
Hockey Night in Transcona is a story about the conflicting pressures young hockey players face in their quest to succeed. [Fry Reading Level - 4.0
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Chapter 1 Cody Powell picked up the puck off the boards at centre ice and flew towards the opposing net. His skates pumped hard, shooting ice shavings into the cold air, and his stick handled the puck expertly, as if the puck were somehow magnetized to the blade. Beneath his blue and red Jets jersey, his heart pounded with the excitement of the goal he could sense he was about to score. At the blue line, Cody spied a defender looming tall in a yellow Penguins jersey Ryan Miller. Instantly deciding to try a tricky deke, Cody sliced the blades of his skates sideways into the ice, came to a split-second stop directly in front of Ryan, twirled around in a tight backward arc, the puck still on his stick, and took off in the opposite direction, leaving Ryan with his legs tied up in a knot. This is going to be a play for the highlight tapes, Cody thought, smiling to himself. He swayed his hips from side to side, once again building up momentum, and in a second came face-to-face with the goaltender, Ernie Gaines, who had slid out of his crease to challenge Cody. Cody faked to the left with his shoulders, then poked the puck with his stick to the right, sending Ernie sprawling onto the ice face-first, lifting his glove in a last-ditch effort to make a save. Cody measured up the puck on his backhand and with the force of his powerful wrists raised the puck towards the net. The puck zoomed past Ernie's outstretched glove and crossed the line. A goal! As his teammate, Mitch Porter, patted him on the back, Cody threw up his arms in celebration. Closing his eyes tightly, he could almost feel the applause of the fans wash over his body. Meanwhile, Ernie kicked his goalpost in frustration, sending up a tinny clang that jarred Cody from his reverie. In an instant, Cody was no longer in Winnipeg Arena, having just scored a picture-perfect goal in front of a crowd of thousands of cheering fans. He wasn't even, he admitted to himself, in Lord Strathcona Arena winning a game for the Transcona Sharks in their twelve-year-olds' community club league. Those were mere fantasies. No, he was on a crummy outdoor rink two blocks from his home, and the only sound in the air other than the reverberating clang from the kicked goalpost which was actually an aluminum garbage can dragged onto the ice from the adjacent back lane was the clatter of train cars switching tracks at the nearby CN rail yard. "I'm freezing my butt off," Ernie grunted as he retrieved the puck and slid back to the other boys. Ernie was wearing winter boots. Playing goalie all the time, he'd never learned to skate. "Can we call it quits already?" "Yeah, let's get going," Mitch agreed. His breath turned to vapour in the cold December air. "I have some math homework to do." The four boys were using only half the ice surface of the outdoor rink. They had a net set up along the centre line Cody and Mitch's goal and two garbage cans Ryan and Ernie's goal in front of the rickety boards at the end facing the CN yard. "It is getting kind of late," Cody put in, figuring maybe it was best to just go home. As much as he loved playing hockey, what was the use playing two-on-two pickup games all the time? The Transcona Sharks, in their official turquoise and grey uniforms with the players' numbers and names printed across the backs, were the real thing. They hosted games in their own arena and travelled across the city and even the province to play other community club teams. They had been the City East runners-up last year. If only his mother were willing to put up with the cost of letting him sign up! But she wasn't. She kept reminding Cody that there was only so much money to go around now that she and his dad had divorced. Cody whacked his stick against the ice at the thought. It just wasn't fair. Just then Ryan skated back to the other boys, joining them in a huddle around Ernie and his garbage-can goalpost. "Let's play just a little longer," Ryan begged, even though he lived farthest from the rink, in a new house in the east end of Transcona. "I'm still having fun." His parents wouldn't let him play organized hockey, either. They had a different reason than Cody's mom, though: they were afraid their son might get injured. As a result, Ryan also had to satisfy himself with these after-school pickup games, which, at his parents' insistence, he played wearing all the necessary equipment. "But I can hardly see the puck it's so dark," Mitch whined. "Next goal wins, then," Ryan suggested, readjusting his shoulder pads. Tall and thin as a rail, he was always making sure his equipment was on right. Cody had a feeling Ryan was just as afraid of injuring himself as his parents were. "You've got to be kidding!" Mitch answered. "The score's thirty-three to twenty-six. We're ahead by seven goals." Sometimes it seemed to Cody that what Mitch enjoyed most about these games was keeping score. He'd make a great sportscaster someday, that was for sure. "So what?"