She sat at her desk going over every play in her head, trying to figure out what she had done wrong. She had gone through all of the first period when her door creaked open and there stood Jordan with Scott’s car seat in hand. “Baby, you okay?”
“Yeah, fine, just disappointed about the loss.”
“Babe listen; we’re nine and one ten games into the season, that’s amazing. I know that even you didn’t think that the season would start out this well. The guys are out there playing hard every night; it’s just tonight New Jersey played a little harder. Don’t worry it’s not like we’re on a ten game slide or anything, it’s one loss. I think we can get through it.”
“I think so too,” she said standing and making her way over to him. He wrapped his arms around her and she rested her head against his chest. “I just can’t wait until you can get out there again and help kick the rest of the NHL’s ass.”
“Believe me baby I can’t wait either, only a few more weeks and I’ll be back on the ice.”
A few days later practice was about to start and Jordan was in the locker room, sitting at this stall. “You know how I used to talk about wanting a motorcycle?”
“Yeah,” Jordan said looking up from the stick he was taping.
“Well do you think I should get one?”
“I don’t know, it’s up to you.”
“Okay, there’s someone else I have to talk to about it,” she kissed his cheek and left him to finish taping his stick. She walked up the runway and found Kris working on his slap shot. “Kris, can I talk to you for a minute?”
“Yeah coach what’s up?” he said stepping onto the bench.
“It’s not about hockey; it’s kind of a personal question.” He took his gloves off and helmet off before running his fingers through his hair. They sat in silence for a moment as Miriya tried to think of a way to word her question. “So I was thinking of getting a motorcycle, but I had to see if it was okay with you first. I know that you lost your best friend to a motorcycle accident, but then there’s TK.”
The look on Kris’s face quickly changed, he was no longer smiling but now sat with a solemn look on his face. “Tyler’s had his Harley for forever so he’s fine. I mean I still worry about him but he knows what he’s doing. Really it’s up to you whether or not you get it, but if it was me I wouldn’t.”
“Then I won’t get it.”
“Don’t let me make the decision for you.”
“No Kris, it really means a lot that you care about me. I know how hard Luc’s death was for you,” she paused for a moment thinking of Kris’ best friend who had died years before. “I don’t want you to worry about me so I won’t get it.”
“Anything for you babe,” she said giving him a hug. She quickly kissed his check and looked into his dark brown eyes. “Alright, I’m Coach Staal again until the end of practice.”
“Yes Mrs. Staal,” he said with a smile putting his helmet back on and stepping on to the ice.
Over the next two weeks the team picked up four wins in five games and this time Miriya took the loss a little better than she had the last time. This loss had come in a road game, the second of the trip. But two wins followed, the second at home.
The next day Jordan stepped out onto the ice for the first time since his injury, well the first time with the rest of the team. When he picked up a puck along the boards and began stick handling a wide smile came to his face. “How’s the wrist Jordan?” Miriya asked stepping on to the ice.
“Surprisingly it feels great,” he said, taking a shot that hit the back of the net.
“You’re looking good, what did Michelle say?”
“I’m healthy enough to play; now I just have to wait until you and Ray give me the okay.”
“We’re not putting you in cold, practice this week and see how you feel.”
The rest of the guys came out onto the ice and as usual practice started when everyone was at center ice stretching. Stretching was followed by some shooting and passing drills and finished with a short scrimmage.
When it ended most of the guys were still on the ice and Miriya pushed Jordan over to the penalty box. “Good practice today Staal.”
“Technically I’m not your coach right now, practice is over.”
“Really?” he asked, a sly smile forming on his lips. All Miriya could do was smile as Jordan pushed her back against the glass and his lips pressed hard against hers for a passionate kiss.
“You two should really get a room,” Colby said from the ice. Jordan’s lips never left Miriya’s as he kicked the penalty box door closed. “I guess that works.”
The week passed and Friday afternoon when practice had ended all of the guys had gone to the locker room, except for one. The one who remained was working on his stick handling and without more than a glance Miriya knew exactly who it was. She watched from the edge of the runway without a word and couldn’t help but smile. After a slapper from the point in the far end he started towards the runway. “What do you think coach?”
“How’s centering the third line tomorrow night sound?” At this a smile appeared and he stopped inches from her, pulling her into a hug. “You’re welcome, go get showered so we can go home.”
The next day morning skate went well and Jordan looked good back on the third line. He had gone to the weight room for some last minute strengthening before the game and that’s where Miriya food him. “Jay, I know that you want to be ready for tonight’s game but I don’t want you to overwork your wrist. I don’t want you to pull a Max.”
“Alright, let me go grab my stuff and we can go.”
Once they arrived home they showered, slept, ate and got Scott ready before returning to the arena. Minutes before the pre-game skate Jordan pulled his game jersey for the first time in over a month and you could see in his eyes that he was excited to be taking the ice again, especially at home. As he stepped out onto the ice his face lit up as the crowd cheered.
“We’ve been playing well all season and I hope to continue to do so tonight, and for all of the remaining game. Jordan’s back in the line-up so Max and Tyler you may have to look up before you make passes since you haven’t played together in a while. Jordan, I know that we’re playing Philly and they’re the team that hurt you but please do not go after Ryan Parent. If he messes with you and you feel the need to fight you can, just don’t get called for instigating. But a fight would definitely make for a good comeback and so would a goal or two. Alright boys, let’s get out there and kick some Philly ass.”
Everyone hit the ice and the second line was out for the opening face-off. Forty seconds in the third line hit the ice while the pick was in the neutral zone. TK picked it up along the far boards and was off into the Flyer’s zone. A crisp cross ice pass connected with Max’s stick and he put it up to the net where Jordan tipped it in for his third of the year and first since returning. After his usual fist pump he went to the boards for the “huddle” with his line. After a pat on the back he got a little more than that, Ryan Parent came up and slashed the back of his leg.
“You’ve got to me kidding me,” he said stepping on to the bench. “Did you see that?”
“I did, but I’m not going to argue it, you know the relationship between the officials and me.”
For the rest of the first period every time Jordan was on the ice Ryan Parent seemed to be too. Three-quarters of the way through the period the puck was in the Flyers’ end and their winger tried to get it out but Eats had other plans. After holding it in he slapped it towards the net from the point at fifteen forty-five to notch the Pens second goal of the game, unassisted.
For the remaining few minutes Jordan and Ryan both took the ice for two more shifts and both times whenever Jordan was along the boards he was on the receiving end of a few illegal hits.
It was the start of the second and one last dirty hit that pushed Jordan over the edge. “I’ve had enough of you Parent, let’s go.” And with that both sets of gloves were on the ice and the two combatants were circling at center ice. Now a much better fighter than in his first few seasons Jordan grabbed a hold of Ryan’s jersey and started throwing lefts. Ryan got one good punch in just before Jordan took him down to the ice and the officials separated them. The crowd was insane as they showed the replay on the Jumbotron and Jordan watched from the penalty box.
When the two teams went to their respective locker rooms the score was still two-nothing. “Gronk.”
“All you need is an assist in the third to get the Gordie Howe.”
“I’ll try my best; I take it you’re not made about the fight?”
“Me, Coach Miriya Staal, mad about a fight?” She asked with a laugh, the team joined with a laugh too. “It was a good, necessary, fight. He was beating up on you out there and I’m glad you dropped the gloves when you did.”
The third period started out rather quickly as Brooks and Kris passed the puck back and forth in the defensive zone as the front line changed. Brooks made one last pass to Kris before Jordan in the perfect position for a lead pass. The Flyers were stuck in a change and Jordan was off on a breakaway and beat the goalie, short side with a snap shot from the slot.
No much later Jordan was back on the ice for the face-off in the neutral zone. It was won by the Flyers who tried to take the puck into the Pens zone. At about the blue line Jordan picked it off the winger’s stick and was off the other way, all alone. His wrister went top shelf as the goalie went down and he stayed down as the team came to congratulate Jordan. The crowd erupted with cheers as hats fell to the ice from all around the arena. As Mike Lange would say, “He was smiling like a butcher’s dog” as he was practically tackled by his line mates.
The guys went to the bench as the hats were cleared and Miriya tapped Jordan on the shoulder. “I guess this beats getting the Gordie Howe,” she said with a smile.
The game ended with a score of the Penguins four and the Flyers zero, the guys practically attacked Jordan as when they got to the locker room. Miriya decided that she would join in the celebration before addressing the press and gave him a pat on the back as the guys cleared to their stalls. She pressed her lips to his but pulled away when Colby cleared his throat.
“Come on coach, save it for when you get home.”
“Not a bad idea, thanks Colbs,” Jordan said with a smile.
With that Miriya went to address the press.