What the H-E-double hockey sticks is a Terrorcat?
My freshman year was here. Only problem was I was still at East Windsor with no hockey team. Dave was at Fermi but he ended up getting cut from his high school team mostly for behavior but also because that team was a stacked state champion the year prior. I was Captain of my EHA “A” team and Dave would play as well since being cut. It could be worse. There also was a rumor that East Windsor had a group of parents that were going to try to start a hockey team with 2 other towns. I will tell you this it did not sit well with the players in the beginning. The two other towns were Somers and Ellington, our NCCC Conference arch rivals.
What was a co-op anyway? We had never heard of it. I was all for having a team; I just wasn’t sure about those guys from other towns. After the initial 24 hours of panic the guys started talking and realizing that we were already playing with or had played with/against every one of these other guys. Maybe this could work? So after meetings and pleading to the CIAC, school board or anyone else that would listen we got our team. The players wanted the name Titans but a 3-school contest to create a mascot and a vote led us here. We were the Terrorcats! The first ice hockey co-op in CT. This was just the beginning.
First season success
What an amazing season. It was my sophomore year. The team finished 9 - 10, narrowly missing the state tournament. You needed 10 wins then in 2 divisions. I had a great season myself and was playing on the first line all year long. My goal was to get to play in college or juniors as a post grad and then college. No matter what things were right where I wanted them to be in my hockey bubble. The hockey bubble that was protecting me from the outside world. That bubble would soon burst.
For me I had no idea what this word would mean my junior year. Pre-season was winding down, Dave had gotten his act together, and we both would be playing high school hockey. We planned on watching each other’s games and rooting for one another like brothers.
In my last fall league game of the year it happened. I finally suffered a major injury. I fractured my right femur on a leg trip from an opposing player. It was a dirty and dangerous play. I was devastated. Getting back to hockey this season was an impossibility, but I didn’t care; it was my goal. I wanted so badly to play and needed so badly to have my place to escape the scotch-induced mayhem at home. At this point my step dad had already racked up a few DUI’s; both arrested for and unreported. It was bad and only about to get worse.
Still on crutches and feeling bad for myself I woke up shortly after getting hurt to see my mom at the table crying uncontrollably one morning. This wasn’t the result of my step dad’s usual behavior, I had seen those tears too many times. This was different. I sat down at the kitchen table and listened to my mom tell me Dave died last night. I lost it.
This was the first major death in my young life. I was 15 and Dave was just 16 without his license yet. How could this happen? Dave got into a car with someone who had been drinking. He was an older kid who Dave looked up to and Dave did what he shouldn’t have; he got into a car with someone who had been drinking behind the wheel. The driver survived and, as often the case, Dave, the passenger, was flown by Life Star but did not make it. I couldn’t believe it. I was in shock. The days leading up to and including his funeral were so hard. I was a pall bearer at his funeral and his family requested I be in the receiving line at the wake. I did it but make no mistake it is something I carry with me to this day. I will always miss my friend. You were taken away from us way too soon, David Emrick.
Check back next week for Part III of Confessions of a Co-op Kid by Jesse Peters.