It's finally that time of year again: Fall? No!
It's HOCKEY SEASON!!
Time to lace em up, throw on the sweaters, and hit the ice to train and compete for the one goal every team has - to win a championship. There is no better feeling then that!
Just promise me one thing before you hit the ice?!?!?!
For those of you who don't know me, My name is Peter Dudek Jr, but you can call me "Pistol Pete." That's what the boys used to call me.
I've been retired from hockey for almost two years now. And I'm one of the many that were blessed by the game of hockey. It gave me the time of my life and so many awesome memories, stories, and friendships!
Like many of us, I put on my first pair of skates as soon as I was able to walk, at the age of 3. My dad used to tell me I used to cry and cry every time I stepped foot on the ice. Well, it soon became the love of my life for the next 18 years of my life!
The game gave me so many amazing times and memories, time of unbelievable highs and indescribable lows. From getting drafted to the OHL & USHL and winning multiple championships throughout my career were some of the best moments of my career and life to this day. Hearing my coach say, "We are parting ways with you" and ending my career was the lowest time in my life, one that ended my career til this day.
I still live with pain because I can't play the game that I love competitively anymore. I mean, I can play in beer leagues but its just not the same.
And talk about pain. At 23 years old, I'm starting to feel the ill-effects of all those years of playing hockey. My back aches pretty much everyday and even my knees occasionally.
Why put my body through all of that? After all, Its just a silly game and your body is going to be wrecked when your 50, well in my case, 23.
I mean, have you ever even thought about the concept of hockey? We skate 200 feet up and down the ice, hitting and battling each other, all to put a little stupid rubber puck past a goalie in a net!
Well, no matter how silly it may sound, "I love the game and always will, it's in my blood, my DNA! I'm a hockey player! Always was and always will be!"
I love the smell of the rink, the sight of a fresh sheet of ice, the locker room, court and the stories that were told, the roadies, the chirps, the saves, the sound of the crowd roaring, the wins, and all the other moments that came with the game. These feelings live deep inside all of us hockey players.
And it’s that feeling we get when we step on that ice. Life is perfect and all your problems go away, even if its only for an hour or two. Things might have been awful in the real world. You could have broke up with your girlfriend, had an argument with your parents, failed a test, or got in a car accident... but when you step onto the ice, life is perfect and that's all that matters.
We live in the moment, there is just no better feeling. Words can't describe our love for the game and being on the ice. It's what we live for, what we love and remember.
And I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. And I wish I could but I'm thankful for all the friendships and memories hockey has created for me!
Anyways, a few weeks ago, I took a roadie with to Toronto with my dad, the man who taught me everything I know and who made me into the player I was. We threw it back to the good ol' days, traveling around North America to compete in hockey tournaments. Except, this time, we were going to the Hockey Hall of Fame and then to watch Team North America play Team Finland in the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.
And yet again, I sit there in the stands, watching in so much pain! (and excitement)
What do you mean, Pistol? (You may ask)
The things I would have done to be on that ice, competing with the boys for two points! Instead, I sat there, watching former teammate Mark Scheifele of the Winnipeg Jets, and former opponents Brandon Saad of the Chicago Blackhawks and Vincent Trocheck of the Florida Panthers. All of which, who were drafted to the OHL and USHL in the same draft class as me and to the same team as me. Crazy!
To think I could have been there, playing in the show? The same dream we all have as hockey players growing up. But I'm not. I'm old and washed up, sitting in the stands watching them. Don't get me wrong, they deserve it!
And now, as the season finally kicks off again, I'll be watching NHL games on T.V. and watching you play, wishing I was you! Wishing I was out there on the ice, competing and playing some puck!
So now that the season is starting, I have a message for you before the season begins!
My Message to You:
Work your ass off, make every memory you can, and every time you step on to the ice, enjoy every second of it!!! The long practices, the bag skates, the workouts, the wins and the loses. Many of times, it will feel like a grind, and you may feel like quitting. But I urge you, keep pushing, keep playing, and keep loving it!
Because, soon you'll be retired from competitive hockey too, just like me, loosing the love of your life you've always known.
[To Junior Hockey Players] If you get the opportunity, move away from home and live with a billet family! Play until you age out, unless you get a great opportunity to go D1. If not, you can always take a few college classes while you play (something I didn't do).
Some of my best memories and experiences came when I moved away to play hockey in Ohio (USHL), British Columbia (BCHL), and Blind River (NOJHL). You get to see and experience a new place, and man was BC amazing!! You have so much more freedom and live with families that are amazing to you.
Ultimately, I decided go to D3 at the age of 19, and not pursue my dreams of going D1, even after getting interest fro Yale, Clarkson, Union, and Canisius. I could have played juniors longer and pursued my D1 dreams while taking college courses so I wasn't as far"behind the game."
[To College Hockey Players] For those of you lucky enough to play college hockey in your career: Move away from home or get an apartment with the boys, wheel broads, go out with the boys, and have the time of your life!
I had the chance to sign with one of the top D3 teams in the nation, Norwich University, but decided to play at home for Buff State. And I don't regret it!
I do regret though, not getting an apartment and spending more time with the boys! Don't get me wrong, I still had a lot of good times and good memories while saving money in the process! The rookie parties, the bangers, the broads, the stories and so much more. But, I spent a lot of time working, working, working. Now I look back, wishing I had more time with the boys! Memories are well worth any amount of money spent.
[To Professional Hockey Players] Well, I never made it this far like I had hoped. But if you have then good for you. Keep playing and keep pursuing your dreams of making it to the Show! Play until you can't psychically, mentally, or financially play anymore.
[To NHL Players] I'll be watching so make sure to give us some good entertainment! A lot of dangles, stunning saves and snipes. Maybe even drop the mitts a couple time here or there. But, Congrats, your hard work all your life has paid off and you deserve it! You're living the dream!!
I sit here in my bed writing you this message, and it is hard! As a goalie, I always loved designing my helmets and goalie pads. Now, to fill the void, I'm currently designing hockey clothing for the boys as my first campaign for my clothing company. Clothing that represents the boys and the hockey lifestyle that when you put it on, you'll be looking good, feeling good, and wheeling good! ;)
If you want to check it out and maybe gear up for the season and turn heads around town: Click Here.
I'm super excited for this, but the whole time I sit here in pain, pain making this whole website and writing this letter to you because it brings back all the "itch." The itch to be able to get back on that ice and compete again for a championship!
Well I can't.
So promise me one thing?
As I sit here while the season starts, wishing that I was still playing, promise me you'll enjoy every last second of it and play every game like its your last! Live the dream! Make memories and awesome stories you can keep telling for years to come... and tell me them too because I'd love to hear and have some laughs! And bring home some hardware for the boys!
Enjoy it boys and Good Luck this season!
Peter Dudek Jr.
aka your friend, Pistol Pete :)
P.S. If you loved this article and promise me to enjoy every second your on the ice this season, then toss a comment below or throw me a share on Facebook so all our fellow hockey players will really think about it and cherish every moment.