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Authors: Sigmund Brouwer

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Rebel Glory

BOOK: Rebel Glory
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Rebel Glory

Sigmund
Brouwer

orca sports

Copyright © Sigmund Brouwer 2006
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced
or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical,
including photocopying, recording or by any information storage
and retrieval system now known or to be invented, without permission
in writing from the publisher.
Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication
Brouwer, Sigmund, 1959-
Rebel glory / Sigmund Brouwer.
(Orca sports)
ISBN 1-55143-631-0
I. Title. II. Series.
PS8553.R68467R42 2006           jC813’.54         C2006-903488-5
Summary
: A string of accidents threatens to knock the team out
of the playoffs.
First published in the United States, 2006
Library of Congress Control Number:
2006929010
Orca Book Publishers gratefully acknowledges the support for its publishing
programs provided by the following agencies: the Government of Canada
through the Book Publishing Industry Development Program and the Canada
Council for the Arts, and the Province of British Columbia through the BC Arts
Council and the Book Publishing Tax Credit.
Cover design: Doug McCaffry
Cover photography: Getty Images

Orca Book Publishers                              Orca Book Publishers

PO Box 5626, Stn.                                   B PO Box 468

Victoria, BC Canada                              Custer, WA USA

V8R 6S4                                        98240-0468

www.orcabook.com
Printed and bound in Canada
09  08  07  06  •  4  3  2  1

Other books by Sigmund Brouwer

All-Star Pride, Tiger Threat,
Timberwolf Chase, Timberwolf Revenge,
Sewer Rats, Wired

 

Sigmund Brouwer
is a prolific, best-selling author of books in a number of genres. He lives in Red Deer, Alberta, and Nashville, Tennessee.

Sigmund enjoys visiting schools to talk about his books. Interested teachers can find out more by e-mailing [email protected].

chapter one

With the referee dropping the puck at center ice to start the game, my defense partner, Jason Mulridge, decided to lose not only his mind but also much of his hockey equipment.

Only two months had passed since I had been traded to play defense for the Red Deer Rebels. In that time I had learned to expect great hockey moves from Jason. I had watched him stickhandle while sliding on his knees. I had admired the way he hip-checked
guys from out of nowhere. And I had been dazzled once to see him score with two guys wrapped around his shoulders. In my twenty-five games since joining this team in January, I had learned to expect nearly anything from number 33.

But nothing in those twenty-five games had prepared me for the hockey move Jason was now making on the blue line beside me.

The ref had his back to Jason and had just dropped the puck. As I glanced sideways to see if my defense partner was ready, Jason threw his gloves and stick high into the air.

“Are you nuts?” I yelled to be heard above the screaming of five thousand unfriendly fans. Was he pulling off his gloves to fight? But who did he want to fight with?

Jason didn’t reply. His glove did though. It landed on my helmet and bounced to the ice. The other glove thunked down beside Jason. His stick slid across the ice toward me.

“Are you nuts?” I yelled again. The fans roared louder at Jason’s actions. We were in Lethbridge to play the Hurricanes, and their crowd was always tough on us. We didn’t need
this to make it worse. Not when it was one of the most important games left in the season.

Jason ignored me. He threw his helmet off and yanked his sweater over his head. It exposed his shoulder pads, the white skin of his thick arms and a torn black T-shirt.

Ahead of us, the two center-ice men were fighting for control. The Hurricane center managed to kick the puck ahead, and it slid toward Jason.

Jason? He was still dancing at the blue line.

It all seemed to happen at once. Jason threw his sweater toward me. It flew into my face like a blanket in the wind. I pulled it away from my eyes just in time to see the Hurricane right winger move in on the puck and sweep past Jason. The Hurricane center was close behind and skating around me. I took a step forward to stop them, but my skate landed on Jason’s stick, and I skidded to my knees. The rest of our guys were too far away to catch up.

Jason was still on the blue line, grabbing at the nylon belt that held up his hockey pants.
Great. Two guys around us and swooping down on our goalie, and Jason is still undressing.

The crowd’s roar thundered. Maybe at the breakaway on our goalie. Maybe at Jason. Probably at both.

On my knees, I was too stunned to stand, too stunned to yell at Jason again. A couple of our guys had stopped. The referee’s whistle had fallen from his mouth, and he stared at Jason.

Jason had finally gotten the belt strap undone and pulled his belt loose.

At the same time, the Hurricane winger went left to pull our goalie out of position and slid the puck across to the center. He snapped a shot into the open right side of our net.

Jason rammed his pants down to his ankles.

I couldn’t believe it. We were down 1–0 less than ten seconds into the game. In the same time, my partner was down to his red long johns and his hockey socks.

Jason didn’t stop there either.

He leaned over and pulled at the garters of his right sock. He tugged until the garters
finally slipped loose. He peeled his sock down and pulled his plastic shin pad from the sock.

By then, no one on the ice was moving. The fans were so loud I wondered if the fillings in my teeth would shake loose. And Coach Blair was standing on top of the boards at our bench, shaking his fist at Jason.

Jason had the right shin pad loose and in his hands. He straightened and threw the shin pad as far as he could.

We all watched that pad sail through the air. It sailed so long that everyone at the ice rink had time to stare and wonder. It sailed so long that the crowd’s roar became silence.

What seemed like minutes later, the shin pad fell to the ice, almost at the other blue line. And when it landed, we understood why Jason had gone crazy.

Four or five cockroaches exploded from the inside of his shin pad, scurrying in all directions on the ice. Cockroaches. Those big, black, ugly bugs so gross they make beetles look cuddly. Cockroaches. Trying to find someplace to hide on the ice around them.

One of the Hurricane defensemen slammed his stick down and nailed two of them. With the crowd still silent, we heard the crunch as the stick broke the hard shells. Bug guts sprayed like tobacco juice.

Jason struggled to roll his other sock down. When he did, same result: a high-flying shin pad, and cockroaches scattering in all directions when it hit the ice.

As if someone had punched the play button on a
CD
player, the crowd’s roar returned, louder than before.

I noticed a few cockroaches crawling near Jason’s skates. These must have spilled out from inside his hockey pants. As Jason tore at his shoulder pads, he stepped on one of the cockroaches, popping it like a cherry tomato. More bug juice sprayed.

The crowd kept roaring, and Jason now had his shoulder pads off. A single cockroach dropped from the shoulder pads and landed between his skates.

Jason threw the shoulder pads and, without waiting for them to land, peeled off his torn black T-shirt.

I nearly lost the hamburgers I had eaten a couple of hours earlier. At least three cockroaches were crawling on Jason’s belly, their antennae quivering in all directions.

Jason looked down, saw the cockroaches on him, screamed and fainted. It put him flat on his back on the ice. He lay there as the trainer came running from the players’ bench.

Those of us on the ice leaned on our sticks as we watched the trainer prop Jason into a sitting position. The trainer waved smelling salts beneath Jason’s nose.

“McElhaney,” I heard a voice say beside me. I turned my head to look into the eyes of the Hurricane center who had just scored on us.

“Yeah?” I shouted above the crowd.

“Bad scene with these cockroaches, McElhaney,” he said. He shook his head sadly from side to side. “Don’t you guys ever shower?”

chapter two

We were down three goals by the end of the first period, something Coach Blair did not find amusing.

“Three to nothing!” he shouted as we filed into the dressing room at the end of the period. “Three to nothing! This game is worth four points and all of you are skating like ballerinas out there!”

Coach Blair was right about the four points—and about skating like ballerinas.

Two months ago we had been in last place in the league and seventeen points out of the playoffs. Right now we were only seven points out and chasing the Hurricanes hard for the final playoff position in our division. If we could win this game, we would stop the Hurricanes from taking two points, and we would gain those two points for ourselves. Four very big points. Winning would put us only five points behind them. But losing would mean we’d be nine points back. There wasn’t much time left in the season to recover.

I looked around the dressing room at the nineteen other guys sitting on the benches. I didn’t know many of them too well. It takes me a while to make friends. I did know, though, that they could have played better. Much better.

“Burnell!” Coach Blair shouted at the guy beside me. “What’s your excuse?”

Hog Burnell lifted his head. He had been staring at the floor, hoping not to be noticed. But it’s pretty tough not to notice someone like Hog. Big, wide and with a squashed nose that had been broken at least three times, he
had a crew cut so short his skull reflected the lights. The program listed his first name as Timothy, but I had never heard anyone call him that.

“Aw, Coach,” Hog said, “I kept thinking cockroaches were crawling through my equipment.”

At any other time, we might have found Hog’s excuse funny.

Not now, though. Coach Blair—all six feet two inches of him—was red-faced with anger. But if the guys were thinking what I was thinking, we all shared Hog’s fear.

“What?” Coach Blair has a face that looks like it was carved from the side of a mountain. When he glares, you want to take cover. “Explain yourself!”

Hog gulped. “Well, Coach, every time I felt sweat trickle down my back, I wondered if it was a cockroach. I mean, Jason—”

I looked across at Jason. He was dressed in his equipment again, but he hadn’t played a good first period. All three goals had been scored on his side of the defense. His eyes were wide as Hog mentioned the cockroaches.

“Mac!” Coach Blair yelled. “How about you?”

Mac meant me. Craig McElhany. Number 3. Seventeen years old and an all-star defenseman here in the Western Hockey League. I was traded from the Brandon Wheat Kings to the Red Deer Rebels. And I hoped to be a high draft pick into the National Hockey League, a dream that filled my sleep nearly every night.

“Coach,” I said, “I kept wondering if I had bugs in my equipment too.”

Coach Blair kicked the garbage can in the center of the dressing room.

“All of you,” he shouted, “peel down! Shake out your equipment. Prove to yourselves there are no cockroaches on you. You’ve got ten minutes before the next period starts.”

Even though I’d never seen him lose his temper like this, I guessed why it was happening now—newspapers.

Coach Blair’s job was on the line. At least that’s what the newspapers said. His only chance to keep his job was to get the Red Deer Rebels into the playoffs. That was the
main reason I was here—to help a shaky defense system.

“Coach, why didn’t the ref blow the whistle during the first play?” I asked as the team stripped. “I mean, any time the gloves are off, the ref’s supposed to stop play.”

“I asked him about that,” Coach Blair said. His face was still red with anger. “He said he didn’t see Jason’s gloves on the ice until the breakaway was already happening. By then it was too late. He couldn’t take the breakaway from them.”

He glared as the team shook out its gear. “When this game’s over, we will discuss what happened to Jason. I can promise you right now, if one of you was behind it, you’re off the team.”

That had crossed my mind too. How could so many cockroaches have gotten into Jason’s equipment? How could they have stayed hidden while he was dressing? And why just Jason? This was as weird as anything I’d heard of in hockey.

“Hey, bud,” I whispered to Jason as Coach Blair stomped out of the dressing room,
“didn’t you feel those cockroaches during warm-up?”

He shook his head. “Coach Blair asked me that too. I was skating and shooting during warm-up, and I didn’t notice anything. I itched a little when we stood during the national anthem. Then I felt something moving all over me and—”

BOOK: Rebel Glory
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