The Forgotten, News (Napanee District Minor Hockey)

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The Forgotten
Submitted By Dan Dowling on Thursday, December 28, 2017
It’s the big day!  Everyone has been waiting in eager anticipation for this special event.  The players arrived early to warm themselves up.  Get the legs going, the blood flowing, and mentally prepare for this once in a lifetime opportunity.  The coaches, not far behind, arrive on time to make sure they’re ready, too.  Get the game sheet filled out, set up the lines for the forwards and defence and decide on the starting goalie.  Much discussion to be had and healthy debate to partake in to narrow the focus for the game plan.  

The officials arrive in style, walk with a swagger and a waning confidence; knowing this may be the last time this evening anyone will notice them in a favourable light.  Parents, grandparents, siblings and a whole host of other fans fill the arena with the expectation of seeing their child, their favourite player, compete for the championship.  Hope resides in all who are present on this special evening. 

But wait, there’s something missing.  Or rather, someone is missing.  It’s nothing new; this certain someone is always forgotten.  We praise and revere all the other participants, yet this individual is rarely mentioned in the annals of games long past.  Strange how this could come to be as they are as essential as any other cog in the wheel.  In fact, so necessary, a game has yet to be played without one or more of these vitally important contributors. 

So, who is this person?  Is it the concession stand operator?  The person who feeds the passionate turned hungry at a frenzied pace during each intermission.  The one who warms us with hot drinks to aid our cheers. No.  Is it the arena operator to prepare our hockey cathedral for an exquisite viewing experience?  The person who is responsible for resurfacing the pristine sheet, erasing the game before so that we may witness hockey anew.  The one who stays behind after the bustle has vanished from the rink to clean, scrub, sweep, mop, scrape and repeat.  No again.  Then who is this indispensable being with which we cannot go without?  The person who holds power over the 4th dimension.  The one who always knows the score.  Perhaps, we need to ask a separate set of questions.  Such as, how much time on the clock?  What is the score?  What period are we in?  These and many other questions like them can only be answered by this mystery position. 

I’m referring to the Timekeeper, of course.  That’s right, the Timekeeper.  The tireless, relentless worker who is always forgotten when its time for a list of mentions, but is always there so that we may enjoy our pastime with the standard of managed time frames and scores kept and communicated to the rest of the game’s partakers.  As much as we need players to play and coaches to coach and officials to officiate, we require the Timekeeper to well, keep time and the score.  It can’t be overstated how compulsory their contribution is to the game of hockey. 

The game sheet starts with the home team, as they attempt to correctly complete their portion of information contained and then passed onto the away team for a similar operation.  The team officials must sign and the game officials are required to do the same.  Once reviewed by the on-ice officials, the game sheet lands in front of the Timekeeper.  It’s at this point in the festivities when the most important data is entered for the record.  The name and phone number of the Timekeeper is placed in the top right corner of the game sheet, placing the responsibility of all information pertaining to the outcome of each game in their capable hands.  They know this and it is with this knowledge they gain their place within the history of the game. 

If a single tenth of a second is wound off the clock without their direct and immediate attention, the outcome could turn out to be tainted.  It’s the focus and concentration of the Timekeeper that allows for the semblance of consistency over the course of the game.  A focus and concentration that is constantly bombarded with attempts to break it down.  From screaming, disgruntled coaches upset over a score board posting to screeching, embroiled parents upset over a score board posting.  Not to mention all this work, clerical and otherwise, must be completed in the less than cozy confines of the Timekeeper’s modest dwelling, the Timekeeper’s box.  Cold, cold and colder is the consistent climate for these brave souls to administer their tasks.  Frozen fingers and toes are the usual casualty of such a job, but the Timekeeper, like time itself, persists.  In some cases, when the stakes are highest, there may be two Timekeepers; one to work the clock and the other to complete the game sheet.  A goal, an assist, or penalties are regular occurrences during a game.  Incidences which the recording thereof we typically take for granted, until we absolutely need to know who committed the offense or scored that goal.  It is then, we discover why we need the timekeeper.  They have the answers; they satisfy our curiosity. 

Once the game is over, the score is tallied and the penalties are totalled.  Verified, the game sheet returns to the officials for one last check and then stored for safe keeping.  Sent to the office of the applicable governing body to be reviewed.  Insight into what may have transpired during any game can only be gleamed from the game sheet, but to know the definitive, one need only to glance at said record to find its truth.  An accumulation tracked by the Timekeeper.

These words may not change your view of the importance and indispensable efforts of the Timekeeper, but it doesn’t have to.  They’ll still be needed, always.

I wanted to take the opportunity by writing this piece to thank all the timekeepers I have managed over the past 4 seasons with NDMH.  These are some of the best people I have been associated with.  They insure that every game is recorded properly, so the credit goes to the deserving.  The most impressive part – they are just kids.  I would like to mention a few names especially.  Kayla Ford, Ryon Brooks and Kennedy South are just a few of the staff, but these three are exceptional Timekeepers.  Thank you for everything you do.  

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