Gav Martell: He’s in the Kitchen


For the Love of the Hockey Game

I love this game. I plan on playing it until it won't have me any more.

While this warm weather means that many households turn their attention to baseball, soccer and other classic summertime sports—in our house ice hockey is always in season. I play twice a week throughout the spring, summer, winter and fall. But if hockey is off your radar this time of year, the amazing contest Dove Men+Care is running should bring it back. A $15,000 backyard rink with a hockey legend dropping the puck at your first game—I'm just mad I don't qualify to win!

Growing up in Canada with two British parents, soccer always held first ranking in our household. "Football" results from the UK were always the topic du jour and as a kid I played seven years of house league soccer. However, from the moment I was old enough to turn on the radio or TV, hockey was my true passion.

Late Saturday nights watching the games on TV or listening over the radio. Hours playing ball hockey on the street or practicing shots against the garage door. Years playing floor hockey in gymnasiums with flimsy red and blue sticks. While I learned how to skate, ice hockey was never an option I was given as a kid. I had friends who played, but the concept was just too foreign for my parents and I never got to play the sport I loved so dearly on skates. Hockey was early mornings and expensive equipment and drives to and from the rink. Soccer was a ball.

Fast forward to university and a couple of friends told me that York University had just completed building a brand new series of ice rinks. Part of the contract included free ice time for students to play shinny. They were all going—did I want to come along? I had skates and quickly wrangled up a pair of gloves and some shin pads from a buddy and raced over to the rink.

What I didn't know then was that I was about to begin a lifelong journey with the sport I had always only admired as a spectator. Every week at York we'd head out to the rink for a couple of hours of shinny and my skating would improve bit by bit. Then I signed up for the York house league and was in awe at the speed and grace of the players around me who had grown up on skates.

Soon I signed up for adult classes at a nearby rink, then a league, then more shinny—I was hooked. By the time I got married 14 years ago I was playing 3 nights a week. In the last decade and a half I figure I've played about 1,500 games of hockey, and I still can't get enough. I organize a game of shinny once a week, I play in leagues, I go for weekend pick-up games and tournaments. I'm a junky. It's as if I'm making up for lost time.

When I'm not at the rink playing, I'm there with my son watching his lessons or games. While marriage, work, kids and a sub-par pro team in my hometown has seen my hockey watching wane over the years—my love of the game has grown by leaps and bounds.

It doesn't matter if a game doesn't starts after midnight, or if I was out late the night before. I don't care if it's raining or snowing or if I've got a cold or achy joints. In fact, I can tell you that despite making my wife a deal that I wouldn't play in a hockey game within 24 hours of any of my kids being born, that I actually played only 23 hours after my son was born.

To me It's not a drag-your-ass off the couch to exercise kind of sport—it's a love of every bone-grinding, muscle-tensing, sweat-enducing, shift of pure enjoyment. I absolutely love this game. I plan on playing it until it won't have me any more.

This past year I even went so far as to put a rink in the backyard for my kids. Again, probably making up for my own childhood.. but what an experience! All winter my three kids get home from school, drop their bags and go skating in our backyard. My heart simply bursts with joy. My eldest daughter Emily is up early on school days to skate before the bus arrives—imagine!

It's taken hockey from being my own passion to a way in which our family can connect and spend time together. Now it's time for you to show your passion for hockey—and enter the Dove Men+Care contest.


YMC is giving you a chance to win a $100 worth of Dove Men+Care® Products!

Just leave a comment below telling me what you and your family loves about hockey.

You have to be a YMC member and you have until August 1, 2012 to enter. Please be sure you've registered your email address in our commenting system so we can contact you if you win.

Good luck!!

Yummy Rules and Regs: You must be a member to win. Click to sign up! It's free and filled with perks. No purchase necessary. Limit of one entry per member. Open only to residents of Canada (excluding Quebec). Must be age of majority. Contest closes August 1, 2012 (11:59 pm ET). Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Mathematical skill-testing question required. Total approximate retail value of the one prize is $100.00 CDN. By entering this contest, you agree to abide by the contest rules, agree to accept any prize as awarded and agree that all decisions made by in regards to this contest are final.

view full rules & regulations


Wanna win a $15,000 backyard hockey rink?

Wanna become a neighbourhood hero by having a legendary player like Wendel Clark or Guy Carbonneau drop the puck at your backyard game?

Show your passion for hockey by uploading your favourite family hockey photo for a chance to win the Dove Men+Care® contest!