Ice Magic, page 1
Copyright © 1973 by Matt Christopher Royalties, Inc.
All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the publisher.
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First eBook Edition: December 2009
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers is a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc. The Little, Brown name and logo are trademarks of Hachette Book Group, Inc.
The characters and events in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.
Matt Christopher® is a registered trademark of Matt Christopher Royalties, Inc.
To Dale and Joanne
THE #1 SPORTS SERIES FOR KIDS: MATT CHRISTOPHER®
The morning of Saturday, December 1, was unlike any other morning ever in Pie Pennelli’s life.
It started with a laser beam shooting at his right eye. The blinding light startled him. Then he realized that it wasn’t a laser beam at all but the sun shining through a hole in the drapery of his bedroom window.
He had been dreaming.
He moved over in the bed, hating to leave its soft, velvet warmth. But he knew he would have to soon. The Fly League hockey game started at eight o’clock and he had to be at the rink a half hour before, at the latest.
As if thinking about it was a signal, there came a sudden knocking on his door and his mother’s vibrant voice. “Pie! Get up!”
“Okay,” he grunted softly.
He got up, washed, put on his black and white hockey uniform, and had breakfast.
“Better hustle,” his mother said. “You’ve got only eight minutes to get to the rink.” He smiled at his blond, trim mother, and as he stood up, noticed with disappointment that she was still a head taller than he was.
“I’ll make it,” he said, and looked at his father, a lean, broad-shouldered man with a moustache. “You going, Dad?”
“Can’t this morning,” Mr. Pennelli said. “I’ve got to work on the car. Who are you playing?”
“The Bears,” Pie answered. “They’re real good.”
“So?” His father’s dark brows arched. “Be better.”
Pie shrugged, remembering that Dad used to say the same thing to Pat. Pie’s older brother, now at State College, was one of the best defensemen in the business. It was Pat’s ice skates Pie was using. They were about two sizes too large, but Dad said he couldn’t afford buying a new pair. “Your feet will grow into ’em,” he had told Pie.
“By then I’ll be in high school,” Pie had answered.
In the meantime he had to be satisfied with them, but even laced up tightly they felt like canal boats and slowed down his playing.
He flung the skates over his shoulders and went to the door. “See you later,” he said, and stepped out into the bone-chilling air.
He walked up Oak Street, crossed Madison, and turned left, soon reaching the high wire fence that separated the street from the gorge that gave the village of Deep Gorge its name. Just past the gorge the fence turned up at a right angle to form a protective wall between it and a path going up the steep, tree-dotted hill. A squirrel chattered as it clung, head down, onto the side of a tree that hung over the breathless chasm, and Pie smiled.
“Morning, squirrel.” He nodded.
He arrived at Davis Rink, and Terry — Terry “the terrible” Mason — saw him and looked up at the clock. A crooked smile came over the tall, dark-haired boy’s face. “Seven-thirty on the button,” he said. “One more second and you would’ve been late.”
Like Pie’s brother, Pat, Terry’s brother, Bob, was going to State College. Both Pat Pennelli and Bob Mason were competing for a position on State’s hockey team.
“A second is as good as an hour,” Pie snorted.
“The way you played last week I really believe it,” Terry said. “What do you do Friday nights? Watch the late-late show?”
“And the late-late-late show, too,” Pie replied, exasperated. He hadn’t sat down yet to put on his skates and Terry was already picking on him.
Last week Terry had done the same thing, picked on him throughout the entire game. How can I play a good game of hockey with him riding me all the time? Pie thought.
He didn’t know why Terry was so crusty toward him. He wished he knew, but he didn’t.
Ten minutes before game time both teams got on the ice and skated round the rink to limber up their leg muscles. The Bears wore brown uniforms with white trim and white helmets with a brown stripe across the center. Only a handful of fans sat in the stands that seated a capacity crowd of three thousand.
Up on the electric scoreboard the time clock read 12:00. The first of the four large glass buttons beneath the hour lights was lit. Each button designated a period. The game was composed of three periods. The fourth button was lit in case of a tie score, and that was used only when the high school played.
The buzzer crashed through the sound of gliding, slithering skates. The two referees blew their whistles, and like flies both teams scrambled off the ice, leaving only their first lines.
The Penguins protected the north goal. In front of the net was goalie Ed Courtney; at right forward, Pie; at left forward, Bud Rooney; at center, Terry “the terrible” Mason; at right defense, Chuck Billings; and at left defense, Frog Alexander. Watching from behind the boards stood Coach Joe Hayes, wearing a baseball cap and yellow-rimmed glasses. Beside him sat the rest of the Penguin roster.
Phreeet! went the whistle, and the ref dropped the puck.
Terry and Ed Kadola, the Bears’ belligerent center, slapped at it, and it skewed across the ice to Bud. Pie sprinted down the ice, looking over his shoulder for a pass. Slap! Down it came as Bud shot the puck to him.
Pie hooked it with his stick, saw Terry backskate toward the Bears’ net, and was about to fire the puck to him when a Bears defenseman bodychecked him. Another Bear stole the puck and slapped it hard to the other end of the ice. And Pie heard Terry yell, “You slowpoke! We could’ve scored!”
Almost on the heels of Terry’s chafing remark came a yell from the stands. “Come on, Pie! Show ’em!”
He didn’t dare waste time looking up to see who the rooter was, but the voice sounded familiar.
Then another voice yelled his name, and this one he recognized. It was Coach Hayes. “Get down to that blue line, Pie! Hurry!
He dug the point of his right skate into the ice and bolted toward the line. Across the red center line the Penguins’ two defense-men were struggling to wrest the puck away from the Bears’ forwards. Suddenly the puck shot to the side, rammed against the boards, and bounced on its edge toward the corner.
Terry and a Bear hightailed after it. Both reached it at the same time, collided, and fell. Terry, on his feet first, hooked the blade of his stick around the puck, dribbled it behind the Penguins’ net, then shot it up the ice.
Pie caught the pass, turned, and headed up the ice toward the Bears’ net. His feet seemed to be swimming in his skates, and he wished again that he was wearing a pair that fit snugly. He knew he could skate a hundred percent better with tighter-fitting skates.
He saw the Bears’ defensemen charging toward him, and he pulled back his stick, aiming to sock the puck at the space to the right of the Bears’ goaltender. Swish! He missed the puck completely. Then crash! Down he went as the two defensemen plowed into him.
Stars danced in front of his eyes as he landed on the ice, both Bears on top of him. The whistle shrilled. The Bears rolled off him, and he climbed slowly to his feet, groggy and tired.
He skated off the ice with the rest of Line 1 and felt a sharp blow against his right elbow. He turned. It was Terry, his face shining with sweat.
“Why don’t you take up tumbling?” he said. “You seem to do that pretty well.”
“I’ll think about it,” said Pie as he stomped through the open gate. He found a space on the bench and sat down.
He wasn’t going to tell Terry or anyone else about his oversize skates. They’d laugh him out of the rink.
For two minutes the second lines of both teams fought but had no success in knocking the puck into the net, and for another two minutes the third lines tried unsuccessfully, too. It wasn’t till the first lines went back in that a Bear broke the scoreless tie.
Then the Penguins knotted it up when Terry “the terrible” Mason, after driving down the ice from the red center line, socked the puck up into the corner of the net unassisted.
The rink resounded with a roar as jubilant Penguins drummed their sticks against the boards.
Five seconds after face-off, Pie caught a pass from Bud Rooney, bolted toward the Bears’ net, and saw his chance to score. The Bears’ goalie had slipped to one knee at the right side of the crease and was taking his sweet old time getting to his feet.
Smack! The puck streaked like a black pellet through space. Up shot the goalie in a futile effort to catch it with his gloved hand.
“Nice shot, Pie!” the familiar voice shouted again in the stands.
This time he recognized it, and a grin curved his lips. He looked up at the sea of faces and saw two that looked exactly alike — the Byrd twins, Jody and Joliette.
Jody waved. “See you during intermission!” he yelled.
“Can’t!” Pie yelled back.
“Your fans, Pennelli?” a voice sneered near his elbow.
He turned sharply and read Terry’s mocking grin.
“My friends, if you’d like to know,” answered Pie, and he turned his attention to the game, which continued without another score to the end of the first period. Penguins 2, Bears 1.
Pie skated off the ice, plagued by his over-size skates more than he was by Terry’s cutting sarcasm.
Tired and half worn out, he stepped into the locker room, sat down, and took off his helmet. The cool air felt refreshing. He was ready to settle for a few minutes of much-needed rest, when in burst a couple of kids, both in blue snowsuits and both looking as alike as twins could possibly look.
“Pie!” Jody Byrd cried breathlessly
“It’s coming out exactly like we thought it would!”
“Exactly!” Joliette repeated.
Pie stared from one bright-eyed, redcheeked face to the other. “What is?” he asked bewilderedly.
“The game!” Joliette cried. “It’s coming out exactly the same!”
Pie frowned. “The same as what?”
Just then Terry Mason’s voice cut in like a sharp-toothed saw. “Hey, you kids, beat it. Even the great Pennelli’s fans aren’t allowed in here.”
The twins scowled at him and headed for the door. “See you after the game, Pie.”
Pie nodded, still frowning. The same as what? he thought. Just what were those twins talking about, anyway?
Foff, and the second period was underway.
Terry Mason and Ed Kadola smacked at the puck. It skittered toward left forward Bud Rooney, who socked it across the ice to Pie. Pie stopped it, dribbled it across the blue line, saw a Bear defenseman charging at him, and passed to his right defenseman, Chuck Billings.
Bang! Chuck clouted the puck toward the Bears’ net.
The Bears’ goalie shifted his left leg and stopped it with his pad. He then picked it up and tossed it behind the net, where another Bear retrieved it and started to dribble it up the ice.
Crash! Pie bodychecked him at the boards as he tried to pokecheck the puck. Phreet! sounded a whistle, and Pie saw a ref pointing at him.
“Boarding!” the ref yelled. Pie shook his head and skated off the ice toward the penalty box.
“You went at him like a bomb,” said Terry, skating up beside Pie. “You can’t take more than two steps when you’re checking a guy. Don’t you know that?”
Pie glared at him. “I wasn’t thinking about steps,” he grunted. “I was thinking about getting that puck.”
“Well, you’d better think about steps, too,” Terry snapped.
Pie found it difficult to control his temper, and was almost pleased for the one-minute penalty. While he sat serving his sentence, the Penguins tried desperately to keep possession of the puck. They knew that if the Bears got it they could try a power play, and the Penguins, with five men on the ice instead of six, could do very little about it.
And that’s what happened. A Bear stole the puck from Frog Alexander and all five of their men — the goalie remained at his position — kept control of the puck. They passed it back and forth among them, evading Bud, Terry, Chuck, and Frog with quick, accurate passes.
Then snap! A goal!
Ed Courtney picked the puck up dejectedly and tossed it to the ref, while the huge room thundered with the resounding noise of hockey sticks drumming against the boards.
Penguins 2, Bears 2.
The ref waved Pie back onto the ice. It was a ruling that a man serving a penalty was permitted to get back into the game if the opponent scored a goal.
Ten seconds later the two-minute session was up, and Line 1 skated off the ice. Line 2 accomplished nothing, but the Bears’ Line 3 broke the tie when their center bombed one in from the blue line.
The Penguins’ Line 1 took the ice and threatened to score over a dozen times, but the Bear goalie’s fantastic saves stopped them every time.
Going into the third period Pie had his best chance of the game to chalk up a point. He had intercepted a pass from a Bear and was sprinting down the ice toward the Bears’ goal with not an opponent near him.
“Score, Pie! Score!” a shout rose from the stands.
He had reached the right side of the net and was less than five feet from it. He saw the goalie crouched there like a wall, legs spread apart, the big stick on the ice in front of him. But at his right side was a clear, wide-open space, and that was where Pie hoped to direct the shot.
He had to make his move now. He had to shift quickly to the left, sweep in front of the goalie, and shoot.
He shifted his skates, pointing them to the left in front of the crease in the direction he wanted to go. Then something happened. His feet had turned, and so had his skates. But not far enough. The combination of oversize skates and momentum made it impossible for Pie to turn in time, and he went crashing into the goalie.
The whistle shrilled. Disgruntled, he disentangled himself from the goalie and crawled out of the crease. He wasn’t hurt, but he couldn’t tell whether the goalie was. The face mask hid any sign that might be on the guy’s face.
But it didn’t hide the look in the guy’s eyes, the sparks of anger shooting from them.
“I’m sorry,” Pie said apologetically.
He saw the ref pointing at him and then at the penalty box. “Charging!” the man in the striped shirt announced.
And once again Pie had to serve a one-minute sentence.
“You had it made, man!” yelled
You would have blown it too if you were in my skates, Pie wanted to tell him.
Again the Bears used a power play to take advantage of the six men against five on the ice, and again they scored.
Pie came back on the ice filled with the determination to get that score back, and he managed to drive a shot that missed the net by inches. He could skate reasonably well forward, backward, and to the left and right, and he wouldn’t commit a foul or lose his balance as long as he didn’t attempt any sudden turns. But Pie knew that he had to make fast moves to score and that those sudden turns would always be his pitfall.
The two minutes were up, and Line 2 came in. Center Rusty Carr scored with an assist by left forward Bob Taylor at 9:17 on the clock, then scored again unassisted. Penguins 4, Bears 4.
Line 3 failed to score but played excellent defense, keeping the Bears’ third line from flashing on a single red light.
Pie, back on the ice for the second two-minute session of the period, blew another chance of scoring when Terry passed him the puck from the corner behind the Bears’ net. Pie stopped the pass with the blade of his stick and started to dribble closer to the net, only to be bodychecked by a Bear and have the puck stolen from him.
“Pie!” Terry yelled. “Why didn’t you shoot?”
Pie’s face turned red. He realized now that he should have shot the instant he had received Terry’s pass. Man! he thought. I’m glad Dad isn’t here to see this!
Fifteen seconds later the Bears’ Ed Kadola scored with an assist by his right forward. Then a Penguin blasted one in from the blue line to tie up the score, 5 to 5.
While the second line was on the ice, Terry said to Pie, “We’re going on the ice one more time. Hope you don’t do anything to get yourself in the sin bin.”
“You think I want to get in there?” Pie snorted.
“Well — you play as if you do,” Terry answered, bluntly.
Neither Line 2 nor Line 3 could break the tie, and Line 1 returned to the ice for its last chance. Pie remembered Terry’s curt warning and tried his best not to commit a foul. He realized, though, that being careful didn’t help either. Once, instead of charging toward a Bear to intercept a puck, Pie slowed down and let the man receive the pellet without trouble. Maybe, he thought—just maybe — the man might miss the puck.
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