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The hockey action heats up again today and tomorrow with a pair of games, but we enjoyed the quiet days out here playing tourists, watching Pad’s team practice (me anyway) and poking around.

Thursday we went to Salt Spring Island, a 20-minute ferry ride across the strait to what seems to be a haven for the rich, the eccentric and everyone from 1967 who didn’t know where else to go.

Salt Spring is sort of like Muskoka is to Toronto in some ways — the real estate is stupidly expensive and the locals like to regale you with tales of Oprah eating here or Robin Williams having a place on this beach or whatever. With an off season population of about 12,500 that swells to close to 50,000 in the summer, you get the idea. Lots of yachts, lots of chi-chi shops, lots of hippies, man.

But it is undeniably a very nice place and the ferry creates a sense of isolation — which can be good or bad, depending on your perspective. If you have to have your Jag serviced at the dealer, it’s bad. If you are trying to create a little distance between you and Hollywood, it’s good (one supposes.)

Salt Spring has a golf course and tennis clubs and marinas and docks and backcountry hiking and lots of shops to sell you the coolest, hippest things to wear in the hills while you hike.

But one thing it doesn’t have is a rink.

Late Thursday afternoon we were on the ferry back to Vancouver Island. The ferry takes both cars and pedestrians and the bipeds get off the boat first.

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As we sat there, first one, then another little boy — no more than eight or nine by my estimate — walked past our car and up the ramp to the dock, pulling one of those big hockey bags on wheels.

Talk about love of the game.

Their moms walked along behind them, barely keeping up. Presumably there was a car waiting to drive them the 15 minutes down the Transcanada to Duncan and the only available rink for a considerable distance.

Laura just shook her head, trying to comprehend the logistics. We used to feel challenged getting the boys home from school, feeding them and then driving five minutes to Kinoak or Glen Abbey. Just imagine trying to coordinate that with a ferry schedule — not to mention the ferry ride home. The car pooling. Being a walk–on passenger in winter. And then there’s the expense. Assuming on weekends you might actually take your car across to Duncan, or maybe you have a tournament in Victoria or Nanaimo, the costs and inconvenience really pile up. (It cost the three of us and our car $68 for the return fare. We had lunch with a dad who says his family has to do that several times a week for high school sports.)

Yikes.

It was another glimpse into the soul of hockey-loving kids in Canada — not to mention the devotion of hockey moms like those on Salt Spring Island who have to go the extra step so their kids can chase the elusive dream. It gives me more respect for all of them.

Canada is a great place. Hockey is a great game. And it is because of people like them who think nothing of it.
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The local radio station here in Duncan broadcasts all of the home and away games of the Capitals and runs a blog on the team at capitalscorner.wordpress.com . And it also interviews players and posts those interviews online. Patrick was featured between periods last week and this link should let you hear his words of wisdom. Especially the part about the best hockey advice coming from his dad.

http://www.divshare.com/download/24632984-be
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The Caps host Port Alberni tonight and then we finish tomorrow where we started back in Nanaimo. No pressure boys but you could really use four points this weekend.

I doubt many of my readers will be boarding a ferry this weekend, let alone walking onto to one with an eight year old pulling a hockey bag.

But I do know that the dreams in Oakville burn just as bright as they do on remote Salt Spring Island. Keep that in mind as you cheer on the teams this weekend.

Whether on the road to Nanaimo or Boston or Joshua Creek, drive safely. Hug the kids.