cover image ICE TIME: A Tale of Hockey and Hometown Heroes

ICE TIME: A Tale of Hockey and Hometown Heroes

Jay Atkinson, Author . Crown $23 (272p) ISBN 978-0-609-60706-0

Until now, The Game, by Hall of Fame goaltender and president of the Toronto Maple Leafs Ken Dryden, pretty much stood alone in the annals of great hockey writing. Finally, stiff competition comes from New England author Atkinson, whose year-long study of the high school hockey squad from his alma mater is a bona-fide masterstroke. Cynics might cringe at the Rockwellian town Atkinson describes; certainly it does seem odd in this day and age to follow the antics of some 20 teenagers without one mention of pregnancy, drug abuse or violence. Yet that is precisely the lush and heartwarming portrait Atkinson paints of his hometown of Methuen, Mass., a blue-collar Catholic town split between French Canadians and Italians, where hockey is the common language and obsession. The focal point of Atkinson's book is the game itself, which the author sees as a force of empowerment, family values and community, and most importantly, joy. He strives to share this joy with his five-year old son, Liam, whose pure glee at playing the game and worship of the teenaged players of Methuen High is palpable. Atkinson vividly illustrates the mental and emotional impact the sport has on its players and offers lucid descriptions of game action. The themes of the book may seem quaint—hard work, dedication, fairness, faith, camaraderie—but that does not in any way lessen its impact. (Sept.)