Book Review - Seahawk: Confessions of an Old Goalie by Bruce Valley
Hockey wasn't always the high-tech, indoor game that you see on TV today. It used to be contested on outdoor ponds, games at the mercy of weather conditions, cars surrounding the rink to provide illumination for night games. Bruce Valley learned the game under those conditions in the 50's with the Rye Seahawks playing goalie at the tender age of 14. He recounts those memories in his book Seahawk: Confessions of an Old Goalie. For anyone with a love of hockey and a sense of history, this is a great introspective read that takes you back to a simpler time in our collective history.
Valley grew up in Rye in the 40's, a small town on the east coast, struggling to survive in the post WWII era. One day as a youngster, he looked out the window of his house and saw something he had never seen before... a bunch of men skating on ice with sticks, batting around a little rubber disk. His father explained the game of hockey to him, and his life was never the same. Without much else to do in a cold New England winter, Valley took up the game with a passion. This adhoc game turned into an official team in an actual league, and the Rye Seahawks became a dominant force in the area. Valley ended up joining the team at the age of 14 for a two year stint towards the end of the team's existence. While the outdoor version of the game was drawing to a close, Valley continued to make hockey a critical part of his life and passion. Thru his eyes, you see a side of the game lost to today's youth, and a piece of history that was played out every winter in small towns all over the Northeast part of the country.
I really liked this book. Valley writes with a clarity that puts you right on the ice, temperatures close to zero, picking up the shovel to clear the ice for the next day's games. He supplements his stories with scans of actual news clippings that reported the game results, treating the team and the games as high-profile sports entertainment. All in all, it's an introspective look into what the game of hockey means to someone, coupled with a step back into nostalgia.