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Authors: Matt Christopher

Ice Magic (5 page)

BOOK: Ice Magic
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And it’s a good thing it doesn’t,
Pie thought grimly.

The teams’ third lines scrambled onto the ice and then off again without scoring.

“Let’s have some teamwork this period,” Coach Hayes prompted as Line 1 got on the ice to start off the second period. “Terry,
quit yelling at Pie out there or you might be watching the rest of the game from the bench.”

“Who’s yelling at him?” Terry snorted and zipped onto the ice without waiting for a reply.

The men skated to their positions. The face-off. The fight to control the puck.
Bang!
Terry socked it to Bud. Bud dribbled it into Seal territory and was suddenly body-checked, but not before he drove the puck
against the boards. It bounced back onto the ice and skittered toward the Seals’ goal, where Pie and the two Seals’ defensemen
charged after it. Pie, feeling his oversize skates hampering his speed, kicked the ice accidentally with the toe of his skate
and fell flat on his stomach.

The Seals got the puck, passed it back up the ice, and shot it to a wingman. Pie felt a hand grab his arm and help him to
his feet.

He didn’t see who his benefactor was until the guy had sped away on his skates. It was Terry.

Pie bolted after him, ignoring the powdery ice that covered the entire front of his uniform. He sped alongside the boards,
this time trying not to stumble. It would be awful if Terry had to pick him up again.

Frog Alexander stole the puck away from a Seal and belted it up the ice to Terry. Terry swerved in a half circle, the puck
hooked in the curve of the blade of his stick, and started back up the ice with it. Two Seals charged after him from his left
and right sides, and he passed to Pie.

Pie stickhandled the puck across the blue line, then across the neutral zone into Seal territory. Now the Seals’ defensemen
were after him, arms and legs churning as they swept upon him like vultures. Far ahead he saw the Seals’ goalie crouched in
front of the net, wide open spaces around him.

Pie glanced at the puck — taking just enough time to make certain that the blade of his stick would strike it exactly right
— and swung.

Smack!
The puck lifted off the ice and sailed through the air like a miniature flying saucer. It headed for the upper right-hand
corner of the net, just over the goalie’s left shoulder. The goalie reached for it, and for a second his huge glove obscured
the flying missile. It looked as if he had caught the puck, and Pie’s heart sank.

Then he heard the exploding yell from the fans, and saw the goalie’s arm dropping, and there in the corner of the net was
the black disk falling to the ice.

“Nice shot, Pie!” Bud yelled, slapping him on the shoulder.

From the bench came the resounding thunder of Penguin sticks banging against the boards.

“All right, Line 1!” Coach Hayes shouted. “Off the ice! Line 2, take over!
Do
something!”

Pie took his time skating off. His legs ached. His body was hot and sweaty.
I could go for a shower right now,
he thought.

“Nice shooting, Pie,” Coach Hayes praised him as he stepped through the gate and sat down. “It was perfect.”

He looked at the scoreboard. HOME 3, VISITORS 2. The VISITORS were the Penguins.

Line 2 held the Seals. Then Line 3 scored, tying it up.

It was still 3 to 3 when the second period ended.

As Pie waited for the whistle that would signal the first lines to get back on the ice for the start of the third period,
someone touched him on the shoulder.

“Pie!” a voice whispered into his ear.

He looked around. It was Jody Byrd, looking wide-eyed as ever.

“Yeah, what?” Pie asked.

Jody hesitated. “I don’t know whether I should tell you this,” he said reluctantly.

“Tell me what?” asked Pie.

“This last period is going to be bad,” Jody replied. “Real bad.”

Pie looked him straight in the eyes. “I’m sorry you told me,” he said.

9

T
he whistle blew for the start of the third period, and Pie went onto the ice, his knees feeling like rubber.

He skated to his position opposite the Seals’ wing and carefully watched the puck as the referee dropped it and the centers
fought for its control. The pellet shot on edge toward the left side of the rink, where both Bud Rooney and a Seals’ defenseman
pounced on it with their sticks.

Then the Seal whacked it against the boards. Pie, quickly determining where he might intercept the puck, sprinted to the
spot as the rubber pellet bounced back. He hooked it with the blade of his stick and charged up the ice, skating parallel
with the boards, stickhandling the puck with perfect ease. But his legs felt weak, and he knew he wasn’t skating as fast as
he normally could.

A Seal defenseman bolted up behind him and whisked the puck away from him before he realized what happened. Back up the ice
the Seal swept the puck in the opposite direction. Pie watched, half stunned.

“C’mon, Pie!” Terry yelled. “Look alive!”

Pie pulled himself together and sprinted after the puck. He saw the Seal pass to a wingman who had swept in from the left
side of the net. A quick snap sent the puck flying past Ed Courtney before the goalie could lift his arm. A goal!

Pie, head bowed, slowed down, turned, and coasted toward his position. He was bone-tired, and he dreaded the thought that
he had to come onto the ice once again after this session.

“C’mon, Pie. Wake up,” Terry said as he skated up beside the weary wingman. “If you’re tired, why don’t you get off the ice?
Let somebody else take over.”

Pie wanted to do that desperately, but he wouldn’t go voluntarily. He preferred to have the coach call him off. It wouldn’t
look so bad if Coach Hayes yanked him.

The whistle shrilled, sending a shock wave through his head that made him squinch.

The face-off. Suddenly he saw the puck skittering past his left skate. He caught it with his stick and carried it swiftly
across the blue line and then the red line into Seal territory. A Seal charged at him. He saw no one to pass to, so he shot
the puck against the boards. Then he bolted forward to catch the rebound. But a Seal defenseman reached it first and belted
it across the ice to a
wingman. Two passes and the puck was down near the Penguin goal. Ed Courtney was protecting the net with all the ability and
agility he had, but he didn’t have enough of either one.

The puck sailed past his padded left leg for the Seals’ fifth goal.

The first lines went off the ice, replaced by the second lines, and Pie sat on the bench, his chest heaving.

“You’re bushed, Pie,” the coach said. “Didn’t you get enough rest last night?”

Pie shrugged. He didn’t answer.

The Penguins’ second line had control of the puck during most of the time they were on the ice, but the Seals’ goaltender
matched every shot made at the net. He had five saves before the second lines skated off the ice and the third lines skated
on.

At 6:23 Butch Morrison, the Penguins’
center for Line 3, scored, bringing them up within a goal of the leading Seals, 5 to 4.

Terry looked at Pie as they skated toward their positions.

“I suppose you’re playing this last time because of that toy hockey game,” Terry said.

Pie glanced at him. “What do you mean by that?”

Terry’s lips curved in a half smile. “You know what I mean. That toy hockey game the Byrd twins found in their attic is supposed
to be magic, isn’t it?”

“Oh.” Pie shrugged. “Yeah. I suppose it is. Real genuine magic.”

They skated past the center spot and were heading for the right forward position, yet Terry had made no attempt to stop.

“So now you’re sure you know our secret,” Pie said, stopping at his position. Terry remained silent, and Pie knew that the
center
was only guessing. Terry really wasn’t sure whether or not to believe Pie about the toy hockey game’s being endowed with magical
powers.

The whistle shrilled. “C’mon, Terry,” the ref snapped. “Let’s go.”

Terry shot Pie a final questioning look, then skated to his position at center. A trace of a smile flickered over Pie’s face.

The ref dropped the puck, and the clock started up again for Line 1’s last time on the ice.
Maybe Terry was still thinking of the toy hockey game,
Pie thought,
because Corky Jones, the Seals’ center, got the drop on him.
He slapped the puck away, sprinted after it himself, then shot it to a wingman heading up the ice alongside the boards.

Pie bolted down the rink on the opposite side, staying in the clear in case either Bud or Frog managed to intercept the puck.
Near the corner Frog bodychecked the
speeding Seal wingman, who passed the puck to a teammate sprinting up center ice toward the Penguins’ goal.

Slap!
A beautiful drive directly at the net! Ed Courtney got in front of it and stopped it expertly with his padded chest. A save.
The puck dropped in front of him, and he covered it with his glove.

The whistle blew. Calmly, Ed picked up the puck and tossed it to the ref.

Again the face-off, and the black pellet skittered to Pie. He pushed it gently ahead of him, heading toward the right corner
of the Seals’ net.

At the back of his mind echoed Jody Byrd’s whispered warning.
This last period is going to be bad. Real bad.

How bad could it be?
Pie wondered.

Suddenly blue and white uniforms converged on him, with sticks looking like the tentacles of a ruffled octopus. Pie glanced
quickly behind and saw both Bud and Terry approaching from the other side of the net, waiting for him to pass.

He struck the puck. It hit the skate of one of the Seals and bounced back, and he found himself scrambling for it with the
two Seals. His face was hot and his arms and legs felt like iron weights.

Suddenly his vision got hazy. His head swam, and his legs became like jelly. Someone collided with him and down he went, hitting
the ice hard. He lay there in a sea of blackness, while far away a whistle shrilled in short, sharp blasts.

He was tired and sleepy. So tired and sleepy.

After a while his head cleared. His vision became normal, and he heard Coach Hayes’ voice. “Feel better, Pie? Can you get
up?”

He nodded, and the coach helped him to his feet and off the ice.

It wasn’t until he was sitting on the bench that he noticed a Seal sitting in the penalty box across the rink.

“What’s he in for?” Pie asked.

“Illegal bodychecking,” Coach Hayes said.

“On me?”

“Yes.”

Pie frowned. “But it wasn’t his fault. It was mine. I’ve been bushed. Real bushed. I — I just passed out, that’s all.”

“That’s what I thought, too,” Coach Hayes said. “I shouldn’t have let you go out there this last time.”

He watched the rest of the game from the bench. There was no more scoring, and the Seals won, 5 to 4.

The Byrd twins met Pie outside and walked home with him. Pie noticed that Terry was trailing behind them, trying to get within
earshot of what they were saying. He warned them not to say anything
about the toy hockey game until Terry was gone.

“Well, did the game come out like the toy game did?” he asked, when Terry was no longer trailing.

“It sure did,” Jody said. “Except that we didn’t know what happened to you in our game. Our hockey players don’t get knocked
down, you know!”

Pie laughed. “How did that part show up in your game?”

“Simple. You and two Seals kept scrambling for the puck. Suddenly you stopped moving.”

“I did?”

“Yes. Just long enough for Jolie — I mean one of the Seals — to grab the puck and pass it on.”

“But why did I stop moving? Or how?” Pie wanted to know, staring wide-eyed from one twin to the other.

Jody shrugged. “You just jammed, that’s all. You didn’t move.” His cheeks dimpled. “I suppose that’s when you were knocked
out!”

Pie grinned. “I suppose,” he said.

He saw the twins off and on during the next few days. But it wasn’t until Friday that Jody called and told him some shocking
news.

“Something’s happened to our hockey game, Pie! Jolie and I looked high and low for it, but we can’t find it anywhere!”

Pie frowned. “You have no idea what’s happened to it?” he asked.

“No! We just know it’s missing!”

10

P
ie went over to the twins’ house to help look for the game. Immediately he noticed a difference in the basement from the last
time he had visited it. The tiled floor was polished and the furniture dusted. Something else seemed different about it, but
he couldn’t quite figure out what it was.

“Has the furniture been changed around?” he asked the twins. “Something looks different.”

“Dad moved the sofa from that wall to that one,” Joliette explained, pointing to a
paneled wall and then to the sofa underneath the basement window.

A look at the window drew a double take from Pie.

“I don’t remember seeing that window open before,” he said.

“Dad must’ve opened it when he cleaned here last night,” Jody said. “He does that to air the basement out.”

“No one could’ve come in through there, if that’s what you’re thinking,” said Joliette. “There’s a screen behind it. Anyway,
who would do a thing like that?”

“Terry ‘the terrible’ Mason, maybe?” Jody said, his eyebrows arching as he glanced at Pie.

Pie shrugged. “Well, we saw him peeking in that window. He knows where you kept the game.”

He looked at the table at the far side of
the room on which the twins had kept the game always ready for play. The regular four chairs were grouped around it.

“Are you sure your father didn’t put it somewhere?”

“Why should he?” Jody said. “He knows that Jolie and I play with it a lot.”

“Have you asked him?”

“He isn’t home. He won’t be till tomorrow afternoon,” replied Jody.

“He’s a salesman,” Joliette explained.

“I suppose you’ve asked your mother about it?”

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