smiling boy photo

The Sin Bin Spin: A Life Lesson From- Hockey?

Of course I heard the whistle. How could I not? He blew it at close range as he pointed his arm toward me. I don’t remember my offense, but off to the “sin bin” I went, tagged with the first penalty of my Rec league, street hockey career.

Penalties last 2 minutes, but with only one minute left in the period, I came out of the box to meet with my coaches and teammates between periods.  As the third period started, I took my place in the penalty box to serve the remaining minute of my sentence.

I was anxious to get back out there and play.  With me in the box, my team was short handed, using only 4 players while the other team had all 5. I didn’t like that my infraction made things harder on the whole team.

When that minute passed, the official opened the door and motioned me out onto the asphalt again and into the game.  I didn’t hesitate.  

As I sprinted across center court towards my position on the far side, the puck took a wild bounce, escaped it’s captor, and landed conveniently on the blade of my stick.

Photo by Francesco Paggiaro on

I was a defenseman. One without much in the way of puck handling skills. Usually, when I had the puck, I would just dump it down toward the net where the fancy, highlight-making front line would try working it into a goal. 

But today was different. I wanted to atone for my time in the sin bin. I was pumped. I was also alone at center court with the puck. Nobody else was anywhere near me.

I turned quickly and sped toward the net as fast as I could. An uncontested breakaway! Not wanting to loose control of the puck, I kept my head down and my eyes on the ball as I came within striking distance of the net. 

Should I try a fancy move? Nah- too risky.

Instead I decided to uncork a slapshot. I knew where the net was and didn’t need to look up. I sped closer, took a breath, and drew my stick back as high as I could.

I rarely scored goals, and was really hoping this would be one of my career highlights.

As I began to draw the stick down and unleash my power shot, a stressed and confused voice yelled, “Todd! What are you doing?!”

I was shocked. It was Marks voice. Mark, my best friend. Mark, the goalie on my team! Where was I? 

I looked up to see Mark in front of the net. Confused, I put the brakes on my power shot and pushed a weak, slow roller towards Mark. He brushed it aside easily; thankfully!

As I ran by the net, trying to compose myself, I heard laughter coming from the other bench. What was going on? Did I really just shoot on my own goalie?

Turning around to look toward the source of the laughter, it hit me. Yep- I did just shoot on my own goalie.

But why? How?

Teams switch goals in between periods. The goal I wanted to score in during the second period becomes the goal I want to defend during the third period.  I went to the penalty box in the second period, but came out of it in the third. The puck landed right on my stick and I broke for the net. The wrong net. I forgot that we had switched sides between periods.

How did I not notice I was headed the wrong way?

Because I never looked up. 

My head was down, focused on not losing the puck. I never saw which goal I was headed toward.

Embarrassing. Inexcusable. Stupid. Preventable.

And possibly – common.

Not at all common in hockey, but more common in life. How often do we, or others we know, shoot at our own goalie; taking the wrong action because we didn’t look up and take stock of the situation before acting?

When we do shoot on our own net, who plays the role of Mark, the goalie? Do we have someone who will stop us, shake us up or yell at us, finding someway to intervene before we make the worst of things?

I was grateful for Mark that day. And I’m grateful for those who play the role of goalie in my life.  I need them, but hopefully not too often. I try to look up, be aware, and not shoot on my own net.  

I don’t remember getting any other penalties in my street hockey career. I’m sure I did, but that first one sticks with me, both for the hockey drama it caused, and the life skill it taught.

Follow Todd and the crew at Wise & Shine Magazine and visit Todd’s personal, magazine-style blog called Five O’Clock Shadow. For Todd life as a musician, visit

18 thoughts on “The Sin Bin Spin: A Life Lesson From- Hockey?

  1. Whoa – that’s a good one. Love the metaphor of the goalie. And for the record, I think that would have been an easy mistake to make but thank goodness for all the Marks in our lives!

  2. I too almost score on my own (soccer) goalie. It is a moment that will stick in your brain for life. Glad you could bring a life lesson out of it

  3. Hockey protective equipment like hockey stick, helmet, protective gear,
    skates, jerseys and other accessories are required for hockey.

Leave a Reply