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Authors: Matt Christopher

Ice Magic (7 page)

BOOK: Ice Magic
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The face-off. Then a Hawk was dribbling the puck up the ice, stickhandling it as if the pellet was magnetized to his stick.
My man!
Pie realized, and sprinted after him.

The Hawk swept by Frog, weaved around Chuck, and reached the side of the Penguins’ net.
Snap!
There were only inches between Ed Courtney’s padded legs and the side of the net, but the puck sailed through for a Hawks’
score.

“That was your man, Pie!” Terry snapped as the first line skated off the ice and the second line skated on.

“I can see,” Pie replied indignantly. “But these skates are —”

He caught himself and met Terry’s flashing eyes.

“Skates are what?” Terry asked, smiling. “Too small? Too big? I was wondering when you were going to blame
something.”

“Fact is, they are big,” Pie said as they climbed over the wall and sat down. “They belonged to my brother. And his feet are
bigger than mine. Lots bigger.”

Terry’s lips parted as if he were going to say something, then closed again. The reaction surprised Pie. It wasn’t like Terry
to shut up like a clam.
Something that I said,
Pie thought,
made him change his mind.

What?

Pie remembered that Bob, Terry’s older brother and a former hockey player here at Deep Gorge, was also attending State College.
“What do you hear from Bob?” he asked, hoping that a little dialogue might help Terry forget his differences with him.

“Nothing,” Terry said.

“He’s playing, isn’t he?”

“Yeah. Yeah, sure.”

He didn’t seem to want to talk any more about Bob, and Pie didn’t push him. But it sure was funny how he had clammed up so
fast.

The score remained 1 to 0 going into the second period. Line 1 was back on the ice.
This is the period,
Pie thought — a shiver racing up his spine —
when something is supposed to happen to me.

But after a few moments on the ice he forgot the incident, forgot last night, forgot everything except what was happening
now.

Twice he took shots at the goal and missed. Each time he expected a yell from Terry, but the center was keeping silent. Pie
couldn’t believe it. Had mentioning Pat’s skates to him really made that much difference?

A Hawk was dribbling the puck past Pie.
Pie sped after him, bodychecked him near the defensive blue line, grabbed the puck, and bolted up the ice with it. Ten feet
from the Hawks’ net he met the oncoming Hawk defensemen and considered taking a shot. Suddenly he saw one of his own men skating
in from the left side of the net. It was Terry. Instinctively, Pie shot the puck to him. Terry caught it, and
snap!
Into the net for a goal!

Terry glided by Pie, and was instantly smothered by the other Penguins. “Nice going, Terry!” “Great shot, man!” they shouted.

Pie skated around the net, a spark of pride kindled in his heart. Terry was getting the praise, but it was Pie who had passed
him the puck. And an assist, like a score, counted as a point, too.

The clock was ticking off the seconds toward the ten-minute mark when Pie intercepted a Hawk rebound off the boards and sprinted
down center ice with it. As Pie
breezed over the blue line into Hawk territory, a Hawk rammed into him with a neat bodycheck and knocked him down. The Hawk
wingman quickly stretched out his stick, hooked its blade around the puck, and yanked it toward him.

Scrambling to his feet, Pie maneuvered himself between the Hawk and the puck, then shifted quickly and sped around the Hawk
toward the opponents’ net. The rink was open in front of him, and he was about to swat the puck for a shot at the goal, when
both the goalie and a Hawk defenseman got in the line of fire.

Just then Pie saw a Penguin sweeping in from the left. It was Terry. Pie snapped the puck to him. The pass was perfect. Terry
stopped it, and with a quick snap, scored.

Again Terry received the plaudits from his teammates. This time he skated up to Pie,
puffing hard. “Thanks, Pie,” he said. “And also for the first one.”

Pie, dead tired, only smiled.

“Nice passwork, Pie,” Coach Hayes said to him as Line 1 came off the ice and Line 2 went on. “By the way, I heard you asking
Terry about his brother, Bob.”

“Yes.”

“Did you know that Bob didn’t make the team?”

Pie stared. “No, I didn’t.”

“Of course Pat did and is doing real well,” said the coach. “Come to think of it, Pie, maybe that’s why Terry’s been bugging
you. He’s hurt that Bob isn’t playing and Pat is, and has been taking it out on you.”

Like a bombshell Pie realized the logic of that reasoning. Terry was a kid who would do exactly that.

“That must be it, Coach,” he said. “It can’t be anything else.”

Line 2 couldn’t score, but they held the Hawks from scoring, too. Line 3 did well until 6:23, when a Hawk drove in a shot
to tie up the score, 2 to 2.

Meanwhile, Pie rested and tried to remember what had happened in the game he had played with Jody Byrd last night. But he
was so tired he gave up.

Coach Hayes’s yell, “Okay, Line 1, on the ice!” came too quickly

The Hawks grabbed the puck from face-off and worked it toward the Penguins’ goal with expert stickhandling before Frog managed
to steal it and drive it back up the ice. Just before it reached the blue line, and to prevent an icing charge, Pie snared
it. He started to dribble it through the neutral zone into Hawk territory when a man bumped into him with a hard bodycheck
and sent him sprawling.

Pie clambered to his feet and a sudden
discovery reeled him. Something was wrong with his right skate!

He looked and his heart sank.

The front part of the skate had broken loose from the shoe!

13

P
ie left the ice, bone-tired and sick at heart. He’d have to watch the rest of the game from the bench, but what about afterward?
Was he finished with skating? Would his father buy him a new pair?

The coach sent Jim Stanton in to replace him. Jim was a wing on Line 2.

“Too bad, Pie,” Coach Hayes said. “But those skates looked too big for you in the first place. Were they?”

Pie nodded.

“Thought so. Skates should fit tighter than your regular shoes,” Coach Hayes advised.
“When you get your new pair, make sure they’re a tight fit.” He grinned and squeezed Pie’s knee. “You’ll find that you’ll
skate a lot better.”

Seconds later someone tapped him on the shoulder. He looked around. It was Jody.

“That’s what that trouble meant!” Jody whispered.

Pie frowned. “What trouble?”

Suddenly he knew what Jody was referring to. The hockey figure representing him on the toy hockey game coming loose on the
rod last night! It had forecast today’s incident as closely as anything possibly could!

“That’s right!” Pie said breathlessly. “That’s really right! And it happened in the second period, too! Just like it did here!”

Just then laughter exploded from the fans, and a whistle shrilled.

“Hey, look!” Jody shouted, pointing.

Pie looked, and there on the ice — running and slipping and sliding on its haunches near the Hawks’ goal — was a calico cat!

“It’s Tipper! Terry’s cat!”

“Tipper!” Terry shouted and skated after it. He scooped it up and carried it gingerly to a little blond-haired girl behind
the boards. The girl, Pie saw, was Terry’s sister, Pam.

The laughter changed to applause as Pam sat down with the cat on her lap, and Terry returned to the ice, shaking his head
and smiling.

The game resumed. Seconds before Line 1 left the ice Terry knocked in his third score of the game with an assist by Jim Stanton,
the kid who had replaced Pie.

“A hat trick!” Pie cried, applauding. “Nice shot, Terry! Nice pass, Jim!”

“Thought you didn’t like him,” Jody said from behind him.

Pie shrugged. “Oh, he’s really not as terrible as he pretends to be.”

The game went into the third period and finally ended, 3 to 2, in the Penguins’ favor. Terry Mason had scored every goal for
the Penguins.

As Pie was leaving the rink with the twins, Terry ran up beside them, grinning broadly and proudly. At his heels was Pam,
carrying Tipper.

“Hi,” he said.

“Hi,” they greeted him.

“Going to play with your hockey game this afternoon?”

The twins looked at Pie, their eyes carrying a secret message. “Shall we, Pie?”

Pie shrugged. “Why not?”

Terry chuckled. “I wonder if … well, mind if I come over and play, too?”

Again the twins and Pie exchanged a look. Then Pie winked.

“Of course, you know why he wants to come over and play, don’t you?” he said.

“Of course,” said Jody. “He wants to see whether the game is really magic.”

“Right. Okay, Terry. If it’s all right with the twins, it’s all right with me.”

“Oh, it’s all right with us!” replied the twins.

“Thanks!” said Terry, his teeth flashing white as he grinned. “See you guys later! Oh, one more thing. Sorry about your skate,
Pie. I hope you’ll get a new pair.”

“Me, too,” Pie replied.

He really wasn’t surprised when his father saw the broken skate and said, “No doubt about it now, son. You’ve got to have
a new pair. We’ll go to a store together after lunch.”

At 1:00 they walked to a store, and Mr. Pennelli bought Pie a new pair of skates,
one that fit tighter than his regular shoes. Pie was sure that he would never again make a quick turn with his feet moving
before his skates did.

At 3:00 Terry showed up at the twins’ house. They called Pie over, and all four of them went down to the basement. Terry had
his cat with him, which didn’t surprise Pie. Those two were practically inseparable.

They reached the table on which the hockey game was set and started to sit down, when suddenly the cat cried,
“Meow!”
and leaped off Terry’s shoulder directly onto the game.

He sat there, gazing big-eyed at the miniature hockey figures, until Terry yelled, “Git, Tipper! Where are your manners?”

The cat jumped off.

At the same time something clicked in Pie’s mind as he stared at the cat. He looked
at the twins, and from their expressions he knew that the same thing had clicked in their minds, too.

Beware what happens on a real rink first

Repeats here not, for fate

Promises that, as true as bubbles burst,

The magic will dissipate.

The cat had done it. He had jumped onto the ice at the rink, and now onto the toy hockey game.

The magic was gone, and deep within him, Pie knew he was glad.

Matt Christopher
®

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